November 29, 2010

i saw sinners making music and i dreamt of that sound


This song instilled a deep and intangible longing and sadness in me the first time I listened to it on Friday afternoon. With this, our first listen to a studio version of a song from the new Iron & Wine album, Kiss Each Other Clean (love that title), I was stopped in my tracks and held there, spinning. Back in one of those rare moments when I was able to write exactly, precisely what I feel when I listen to a song, there was the long ramble I wrote about “The Trapeze Swinger” last year, about how Sam Beam makes us feel like we are walking into the middle of a song that has always existed, tapping a primal vein of rhythm and harmonies that have been pulsing for eons. That’s also how this song feels. Even with the flourishes of unexpected electronica, I would personally call this song a masterpiece, on par with The Trapeze Swinger. I am wrapped in to this world he is describing.

STREAM: Walking Far From Home – Iron & Wine (lyrics)

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The first two stanzas feel like holding your breath – keening, suspended. My favorite part of the song comes forty seconds in, one breath after the marvelous lyric, “I saw sinners making music, and I dreamt of that sound – dreamt of that sound…” — the aural fuzz clears out and the “ooooh woaaaaah” vocal harmonies start cascading and tumbling over one another.

With that apocryphal air of epic poems that Sam Beam does so well, there’s a push and give, back and forth on this song of the freedom of discovering new lands, but also a recognizance of the tethers that bind those inner parts of us back to the things we love. The opening line talks about walking somewhere “where the names were not burned along the wall,” which to me speaks of shaky, wet, nascent freedom. But even with everything freshly created, “I was walking far from home but I carried your letters all the while” and “I found your face mingled in the crowd.” We lose what we lose to keep what we can keep.

Also, how can you not see a marvelous parallel here with Dylan’s “Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”? Like a sister song, fifty years later.

This is the first track on the EP/maxi-single of three new Iron & Wine songs that I picked up on Record Store Black Friday. It’s the first track on the new album, along with “Half Moon” and eight other songs. Kiss Each Other Clean is out January 25th on Warner Brothers/4AD, Sam Beam’s first album since leaving Sub Pop.


  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Turcott Music Feed, Eversilences. Eversilences said: i saw sinners making music and i dreamt of that sound: This song instilled a deep and intangible … (fuelfriends) [...]

    Tweets that mention i saw sinners making music and i dreamt of that sound | Fuel/Friends Music Blog -- — November 29, 2010 @ 10:33 pm

  • Well that certainly was a stellar way to start the morning. What a gorgeous, comforting tune. Totally with you on feeling like I’ve already heard this song a million times before I’ve ever listened to it once. He’s such an absolute wizard with words and melody, which is on full display here. Can’t wait for the Daytrotter session that will hopefully be posted soon so we can get a few more peeks at the new tunes. Waiting until late January seems like forever, but judging by the new songs we’ve heard so far it’s going to be more than worth it.

    Adam — November 30, 2010 @ 7:10 am

  • I think I’ll just keep playing this one over and over again today, thanks. I love how more and more layered Sam Beam’s sound is becoming, given each progressive album. And this one sorta represents his move into the more electric sound exploration, sorta like when Dylan picked up his electric geet not so long ago. There will be an uproar as a result (it’s already started), but those who are willing to hop on board with this will be in for quite the enjoyable ride. That’s what I tend to think.

    Dainon — November 30, 2010 @ 8:20 am

  • i tend to think that too, D.

    browneheather — November 30, 2010 @ 10:51 am

  • I love Iron & Wine… Thanks for passing this one along. Such a great song.

    Jake — November 30, 2010 @ 10:52 am

  • Thank you.

    Martin — November 30, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

  • This voice is one of my favorite sounds in the whole world.

    katie — November 30, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

  • Well, I’ve listened to this about 20 times already… SO GOOD

    Megan — December 1, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

  • How could I let it go this long without giving I&W a listen?! Unreal. What a beautiful song. The “ooh wahs” remind me of “In The Flesh?” off “The Wall” with the music and vocals sounding like a combination of Angie Aparo and Death Cab For Cutie. This just tugs at my heart strings, get choked up every time I hear it.

    Rage — December 1, 2010 @ 9:44 pm

  • I really like the arrangement of this song – there are so many elements occurring that fit together so well. Thanks so much for posting it.

    Dustin Edge — December 3, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

  • Sounds great. I’m friends with someone who played on this album and am looking forward to hearing it.

    Justin — December 4, 2010 @ 9:38 am

  • This song and the b-sides included are a huge disappointment. “Walking Far From Home” contains snapshots of images that are supposed to be poignant, but since they are simply recited, one after the other without any sort of context, any meaning they would have had is completely lost. Iron & Wine has become a caricature of itself.

    Ryan — December 4, 2010 @ 11:45 pm

  • Such a comfortable sound. Comfortable as home. Haven´t listen to this song before… thank you for the post. Greetings from Mexico.

    SAÚL — December 22, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

  • Thank you for this…. thank you….

    Loren — January 22, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  • i couldn’t listen to the whole album for days. i just set it to repeat the very first song and listened for hours. couldn’t skip it. can’t skip it. just…
    this is the only song i need right now in my desperate state of emotional mayhem. loved “Such Great Heights”, but this gives me even more. the song sends shudders through my brain every time when i reach the moment
    “I saw loaded linen tables” and the strange electro sounds wave around me. one of those (too few) epic moments.

    david — August 30, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

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