Friday, July 08, 2005

The Trapeze Swinger-Iron and Wine

In Good Company was a pretty decent movie and featured surprisingly good ensemble acting. What also kept my attention throughout the movie was a very good soundtrack, prominently featuring the work of one of my favourite artists, Iron and Wine. Thus, the highlight of the movie for me was the previously unreleased Iron and Wine song played over the closing credits, "The Trapeze Swinger". This song is probably the only good reason to buy the movie's soundtrack. Realizing this, the evil people at iTunes made this the one track that couldn't be individually purchased. That might have something to do with the 9:29 length of the song, but I'm sure it's because of people like me.

The song itself is utterly crushing. It is the emotional equivalent of taking cyanide. Musically, this track nestles itself amongst the pieces of The Creek Drank the Cradle, most resembling the standout track, "Upward Over the Mountain". The song carries the same painful nostalgia, constantly asking the woman of the song to "remember me". In fact the poetry in the song is so beautiful that it is worth reading on its own here. The music of each stanza doesn't change very much, but it actually serves to increase the sense of longing and regret. I don't think it is remotely boring, and features a particularly lovely hymnal chorus in the background and beautiful sparse percussion. As the song progresses, it sounds like Sam Beam is joined by a female voice, but it's subtle and distant. Like his lost love. The last musical change near the end of the song is a series of rising and descending whole notes by what sounds like a subdued piano that takes the listener to the final abrupt ending.

Even though this song is probably my favourite Iron and Wine song, I would urge a new listener to begin with The Creek Drank the Cradle, and wait to embrace this song only after falling in love with Iron and Wine's delicate mastery.