Iron & Wine: Early Outtakes (pt. 1)
Iron & Wine’s 2002 debut, the masterful The Creek Drank The Cradle, is not what you’d consider a groundbreaking album in the traditional sense. The album was recorded with no pretense of impending fame, and I can imagine Sam Beam was probably as surprised as anyone to find out that Sub Pop was willing to release it “as is” when they first heard the tapes. Who would have thought at the time that Beam’s frail sounding southern anthems would find the strength to influence the next wave of bedroom boys with gentle voices and battered guitars? His influence is discernible throughout the modern indie-folk genre, and the blogging community (including this one) has been guilty many times of using The Creek Drank The Cradle as a reference point for reviewing similar artists.
There is no doubt that Beam, ever the self-challenging artist, has developed into a songwriter capable of more sonic tricks than The Creek Drank The Cradle ever hinted at. His band’s sonic progression, from the debut to Our Endless Numbered Days and last year’s The Shepherd’s Dog (as well as his various side projects and EPs), are all the work of a man very much aware of the need to evolve as an artist in order to maintain relevance. The one constant over the past 6 years though has been the consistency of his writing. Each album is full of songs with striking imagery, uniquely original metaphors, and allusions to the many driving forces that inspire him - tradition, religion, sex, death, the South, nature, family, childhood, memory, and so on and so forth.
Though each album in the Iron & Wine catalog is essential, the one I find myself returning to most often is in fact the debut. I’d dare say that The Creek Drank The Cradle is the best example of what a man can do with an acoustic guitar and an 8-track since Nebraska. Originally a film professor in Florida, Beam recorded dozens of songs before he had ever even played in front of an audience. Eventually those songs were whittled down to the 11 that finally wound up on the album. Over the years other songs from these early years have been released here and there, most notably the The Sea & The Rhythm EP. Others became the object of many a serious fan’s fruitless online search. That’s where this post comes in. Here are a few noteworthy outtakes from that bountiful era that, to my knowledge, have never seen legal release:
MP3 :: Sacred Vision
MP3 :: Same Old Song
MP3 :: Call Your Boys
MP3 :: Her Tea Leaves
MP3 :: Ab’s Song
MP3 :: Waiting For A Superman
As far as I know “Sacred Vision”, “Call Your Boys”, “Her Tea Leaves”, and “Ab’s Song” are Sam Beam originals recorded around the same time as the songs from The Creek Drank The Cradle.
“The Same Old Song” is a cover of a classic Motown song originally made famous by The Four Tops.
“Waiting For A Superman” is, of course, Iron & Wine covering The Flaming Lips song from the classic The Soft Bulletin. This one has been in pretty regular circulation for years.
There is plenty more where these came from. Check back in a day or 2 for another batch of early Iron & Wine rarities.