The Sufjan Stevens Tour of Illinois
When my family took a road trip across the northern U.S., we listened to music throughout, and took particular care to time Sufjan Stevens's Illinois to coincide with our entrance into the state. Afterward, my uncle raised the idea of visiting each location referenced on the album alongside the song that references it. In a fit of boredom/curiosity, I consulted Genius and Google Maps to work out what this would entail. Specifically, how must one travel to visit every location that is referenced by a song as that song begins?
Sticking to roads, the resulting trip covers 2023 miles and thus requires an average speed of over 1700 mi/h (2700 km/h). For comparison, Wolfram|Alpha tells me this is 1.3 times the top speed of the Concorde.
The sequence of destinations one derives from the album is subjective. In particular, I was uncertain about whether to include "The Seer's Tower" -- apart from the pun in the title, the song appears to have nothing to do with Illinois -- but I decided to add a stop in Chicago. A couple of songs refer to larger regions than cities; in this case, I picked the city in the region which is closest to the previous destination.
The resulting itinerary is:
The most punishing leg of the journey is from Godfrey to the Palisades, because the interlude "A Conjunction of Drones Simulating the Way in Which Sufjan Stevens Has an Existential Crisis in the Great Godfrey Maze" is only 19 seconds long. This requires you to travel at 46800 miles per hour. It would result in an acceleration of over 200 g, which would kill you faster than you can say "curse you, Sufjan Stevens, for luring me to this horrible fate".
- Highland ("Concerning the UFO Sighting...")
- Chicago ("Come On! Feel the Illinoise!")
- Jacksonville ("Jacksonville")
- Decatur ("Decatur, or, Round of Applause...")
- Chicago again ("One Last Whoo-hoo..." & "Chicago")
- Dixon ("To the Workers of the Rock River Valley...")
- Peoria ("Prairie Fire That Wanders About")
- Godfrey ("A Conjunction of Drones...")
- Mississippi Palisades State Park ("The Predatory Wasp...")
- Bushnell ("Let's Hear That String Part...")
- Chicago yet again ("The Seer's Tower")
- Chauncey ("Out of Egypt...")
By comparison, the section from Chicago to Dixon (next to the Rock River) is the most relaxed, allowing you to scale back to 600 miles per hour. This is one of four segments which allow you the luxury of dipping below the speed of sound.
Finally, we can consider the opposite (and less dangerous) question: what if you stay within the speed limit and instead slow the songs down? Then there's a bit of good news: in the more relaxed sections, you would only have to slow the music down by a factor of about 10, so it would still be well within the range of human hearing!