“The Lilac Bush,” Annotated

Alumni Corner

Performing under the name Slow Dakota, PJ Sauerteig ’15 blurs the lines among music, literature and art; his third album, The Ascension of Slow Dakota, is an exploration of musical styles and literary allusions that defies easy categorization. Reviewer Andrew Keipe of PopMatters wrote, “The Ascension reads like a mini encyclopedia of the Western canon,” while Observer’s Justin Joffe wrote, “The Ascension of Slow Dakota packs itself so full of theological, literary and poetic references so as to almost laugh in the face of the three-minute hit singles and tight, 30-minute garage records.”

The 19-track album, released July 22, references T.S. Eliot, William Blake, Walt Whitman, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and many other literary legends. Six of the tracks feature narrative voice-overs performed by Columbia faculty: Philip Kitcher, the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy; Margaret Vandenburg GSAS’96, a senior lecturer in English at Barnard; and Joseph Fasano SOA’08, an adjunct assistant professor of writing in the Faculty of the Arts.

Sauerteig, a double major in creative writing and psychology at the College, now attends NYU Law. Below, he shares an annotated lyric from “The Lilac Bush,” breaking it down Lit Hum-style.

Text with scribbled margin notes in different ink colors