What’s in the bag? (102 & 103)

Iron & Wine – The Creek Drank The Cradle/Our Endless Numbered Days

81NdvNPG4CL._SX355_During my trip to Cambridge at the weekend I was given permission to buy a few records. As previously mentioned I visited Fopp, which used to be in Leamington Spa but closed down a few years ago to be replaced by Head Records. Head is a decent shop for vinyl but Fopp is a bit better I think, for choice and occasionally value. I bought a few albums, two of which were by Iron & Wine, which is essentially a guy called Samuel Beam, that were too cheap to pass up. The debut 2002 release, The Creek Drank The Cradle was £10 and the follow up album, Our Endless Numbered Days ‘was £11. As I had played the CD’s to death getting them on vinyl at these prices was a bit of a no brainer.

You may know Iron & Wine very well, or not know that you know Iron & Wine very well. The reason I say this is because there are several tracks that have been used in TV and Film. If you have watched any of the following then there’s a good chance that you’ve listed to Iron & Wine:

The O.C. Soundtrack (2004), Garden State Soundtrack (2004), L Word: Season Two images (1)soundtrack (2004), Grey’s Anatomy: Season Two soundtrack (2004), Numb3rs Season 3, Episode 19, “Pandora’s Box” (2007), Friday Night Lights Season 1, Episode 12 (2007), Friday Night Lights: Original Television Soundtrack (2007), Twilight soundtrack (2008), Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 soundtrack (2011), 90210 Season 1, Episode 18, “Off the Rails” (2008), House M.D. Season 4, Episode 16 (Season Finale, Part 2) Wilson’s Heart (2008) * Season 6, Episode 1 (Season Premiere, Part 1) Broken (2009), Ugly Betty Season 3, Episode 16 (2009) The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (2009)

And that’s not all of them, but it demonstrates quite well how sometimes we can hear a song and recognise it, but have no idea where the hell we heard it before, or I certainly find that at times at least.

The first album, ‘The Creek Drank The Cradle’ was recorded on a home set-up and does have a rather sparse, lo-fi sound about it having been recorded as a 4 track demo with the intention of recording a full band version with Calexico, but at some point it was decided to release the demo versions instead. I can see why, as the songs do have a certain charm that would have been lost had they received the full band/full production treatment. It was very well received upon its 2002 release, and rightly so.

1. “Lion’s Mane” 2:49
2. “Bird Stealing Bread” 4:21
3. “Faded from the Winter” 3:17
4. “Promising Light” 2:49
5. “The Rooster Moans” 3:24
6. “Upward over the Mountain” 5:56
7. “Southern Anthem” 3:54
8. “An Angry Blade” 3:48
9. “Weary Memory” 4:01
10. “Promise What You Will” 2:24
11. “Muddy Hymnal” 2:43

The second album, ‘Our Endless Numbered Days’, released in 2004 is a more polished affair and contains the song ‘Naked as we came’, which is a beautifully realised song, with a poignancy that is rarely seen in popular modern music. I listen to this particular song and it brings me to the edge of tears, not because it is sad, but because it is a joyous re-affirmation of life:

“Naked As We Came”

She says “wake up, it’s no use pretending”
I’ll keep stealing, breathing her.
Birds are leaving over autumn’s ending
One of us will die inside these arms
Eyes wide open, naked as we came
One will spread our ashes ’round the yard

She says “If I leave before you, darling
Don’t you waste me in the ground”
I lay smiling like our sleeping children
One of us will die inside these arms
Eyes wide open, naked as we came
One will spread our ashes round the yard

For more Iron & Wine join me at FTLOV Radio, 20:00 GMT on Thursday.

I really like the NPR: Music Tiny Desk concerts, so here’s one of those, ending with the song above, although it’s performed a little differently from the original:

The album’s title comes from the lyrics of the song “Passing Afternoon”: “There are things that drift away like our endless, numbered days.” Same Beam does write a lovely lyric and his gentle, understated delivery is somehow more effecting than something more dynamic. Of the two albums I’d recommend the latter first as it is somewhat more accessible, but get the former next.

 

1. “On Your Wings” 3:53
2. “Naked as We Came” 2:33
3. “Cinder and Smoke” 5:44
4. “Sunset Soon Forgotten” 3:20
5. “Teeth in the Grass” 2:22
6. “Love and Some Verses” 3:40
7. “Radio War” 1:56
8. “Each Coming Night” 3:28
9. “Free Until They Cut Me Down” 4:35
10. “Fever Dream” 4:16
11. “Sodom, South Georgia” 4:59
12. “Passing Afternoon” 4:01

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