The Tonya Harding revival is upon us in earnest now.
Sufjan Stevens, famed songwriter and longtime fan, has shared a transcendent ballad appreciating the once fallen figure skater now quietly enjoying a small scale image recuperation thanks to the upcoming biopic I, Tonya.
Originally penned for the Margot Robbie flick [but ultimately not chosen], “Tonya Harding” is a heartfelt epode as soft as it is sweet, as compelling as it is evocative, in its recounting of the troubled stars fall from glory. Explained in an essay released with the track, Stevens says:
I admit, early drafts of this song contained more than a few puns, punch lines and light-hearted jabs—sex tapes and celebrity boxing make for an entertaining narrative arc. But the more I edited, and the more I meditated, and the more I considered the wholeness of the person of Tonya Harding, I began to feel a conviction to write something with dignity and grace, to pull back the ridiculous tabloid fodder and take stock of the real story of this strange and magnificent America hero. At the end of the day, Tonya Harding was just an ordinary woman with extraordinary talent and a tireless work ethic who set out to do her very best. She did that and more.
That sentiment is sincerely felt as delicate strings swirl around subtle presses of the piano key before the electronic composition begins to swell under the weighty lyricism. You may be just as skeptical as I was pre-listen, but take this one in with an open mind and it clicks. Stream below and pre-order a special edition cassette and vinyl: