Tue, Sep 17, 2019 at 9:00 AM
Iron and Wine’s second full-length record, Our Endless Numbered Days arrived in March 2004 with a sense of excitement and expectation and less out of nowhere than his 2002 debut, The Creek Drank the Cradle. If Creek was the baptism by which we would come to first experience Iron & Wine, then Endless would go on to become the communion by which to celebrate them.
Our Endless Numbered Days marked many firsts both professionally and personally for Iron & Wine principal singer-songwriter Sam Beam. The record deals with a life in transition filled with youth and innocence, hope and love. As noted author Amanda Petrusich states in her liner notes for the 15th-anniversary edition “Our Endless Numbered Days is a timeless record about the passage of time, and how little any of us can do to stop it.”
Prior to the recording of OEND Beam had seen his life go thru big changes. He became a father for the first time, had gotten married and went from a full-time college professor to a touring musician; to take advantage of the host of new opportunities presenting themselves, he moved from Miami to Austin.
This was reflective in the writing for OEND as Beam was no longer drawing solely on fictional characters and imagery, but instead the language he used was more personal and direct. The narrative was relatable to his own life even if everything about it wasn’t reflected in his living. As the world was opening itself to Beam, so was he opening himself to the world.
OEND was recorded in Chicago’s Engine Studios over the course of one week with producer Brian Deck. It was the first time Beam had been in a studio to record and with a producer. Deck was fresh off having recorded Modest Mouse’s The Moon and Antarctica and had been in one of Beam’s favorite bands, Red Red Meat. Joining him in the studio was the touring band Beam had put together to support his debut - Jonathan Bradley, EJ Holowicki, Jeff McGriff, Patrick McKinney and his sister Sarah Beam.
Upon its release SPIN called the record a “masterwork” one that is “self-assured, spellbinding, and richly, refreshingly adult.” Pitchfork, which gave the original album “Best New Music,” had this to say, “An astoundingly progressive record: Beam has successfully transgressed his cultural pigeonhole without sacrificing any of his dusty allure.” OEND has went on to become Iron & Wine’s biggest-selling record, having sold over 556,000 copies to date. Paste Magazine ranked it #4 on their best indie folk records of all time.
In conjunction with the re-issue, Iron & Wine will team up with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to perform the record in its entirety. Arrangements are being handled by noted composer David Campbell (Adele, Michael Jackson, Beck), whom will also conduct the LA Philharmonic.
Outside of the accolades, the record has received over the years, it’s clear to Beam that relationships with this record run deep. “I’ve learned that people have a deep love for these songs and in general with my music. It’s clear to me that it’s a one on one thing that helps you get thru something or become aware of something inside you. Performing them with an orchestra will be a fun yet intimate way to breathe new life into the songs.”
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