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Iron And Wine is the stage and recording name of folk rock singer-songwriter, Samuel Beam. He has released three studio albums, several EPs and singles, as well as a few download-only releases, which include a live album (a recording of his 2005 Bonnaroo performance). Beam was raised in South Carolina before moving to Florida to attend school, but now resides outside of Austin, Texas. The name Iron And Wine is taken from a dietary supplement named "Beef Iron & Wine" that he found in a general store while shooting a film.
Beam was born July 26, 1974. He was raised outside Columbia, South Carolina, where his father worked in land management and his mother was a schoolteacher. When he was a child, his family took regular trips to the country where his grandfather ran a farm. He attended Seven Oaks Elementary, Irmo Middle School, and Chapin High School. While home from college, Beam was a waiter at California Dreaming restaurant in Columbia.
Beam graduated from the Florida State University Film School with an MFA degree. Until the first Iron And Wine album, Beam's main source of income was as a professor of film and cinematography at the University of Miami and Miami International University of Art & Design. He had been writing songs for over seven years before a friend lent him a four-track recorder. His friends handed out copies of demos that he had made, and the owner of Sub Pop Records personally contacted Beam and proposed a deal.
Beam released his first Iron And Wine album, The Creek Drank the Cradle, on the Sub Pop label in 2002. Beam wrote, performed, recorded and produced the album in his home studio. Featuring acoustic guitars, banjo, and slide guitar, the album's music has been compared to that of Nick Drake, Simon and Garfunkel, Elliott Smith, and John Fahey. The debut album was followed in 2003 by The Sea & The Rhythm, an EP containing other home-recorded tracks with a similar style to the songs on the debut.
Beam's second album, Our Endless Numbered Days (2004), was recorded in a professional studio with a significant increase in fidelity. Produced in Chicago by Brian Deck, the focus was still on acoustic material, but the inclusion of other band members gave rise to a slightly different sound. That same year, Beam recorded the song "The Trapeze Swinger" for the film In Good Company.
Sarah Beam at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland
In February 2005, Beam released an EP titled Woman King, which expanded on the sounds of his previous LP and added electric guitars. Each track featured a spiritual female figure and had subtle Biblical undertones.
The EP In the Reins, a collaboration with the Arizona-based rock band Calexico, was released in September 2005. Beam wrote all of the EP's songs years earlier, but Calexico added their trademark fusion of dusty southwestern rock, traditional Mexican music and jazz to the songs' arrangements. Several tracks feature brass instruments, a first for Beam's music.
The third full-length Iron And Wine album, titled The Shepherd's Dog, was released September 25, 2007. This album was voted one of the ten best of 2007 by Paste magazine. Contributors included Joey Burns and Paul Niehaus of Calexico, as well as jazz musicians Matt Lux and Rob Burger. When asked to describe the album to The Independent, Beam remarked that "it's not a political propaganda record, but it's definitely inspired by political confusion, because I was really taken aback when Bush got reelected."
In 2002, Beam recorded a cover of The Postal Service's then-unreleased song "Such Great Heights". Rather than being included on an Iron And Wine release, the track was initially only included as a b-side of the original version by The Postal Service. In 2004, Beam's version was featured in an advertisement for M&M's and in the film Garden State and its popular soundtrack. This version was later used in a 2006 Ask.com advertisement. A single of the Iron And Wine version of "Such Great Heights" was released in 2006, backed with recordings of "The Trapeze Swinger" and "Naked as We Came" made for Radio Vienna.
Beam has released all of his music on iTunes, including several exclusive EPs. The Iron And Wine iTunes Exclusive EP features unreleased studio recordings, including a Stereolab cover and two tracks which had previously only appeared on vinyl. The Live Session (iTunes Exclusive) EP features Beam and his sister, Sarah Beam, performing a number of tracks from his albums, as well as a cover of New Order's "Love Vigilantes". Sarah Beam has contributed backing vocals on many of Beam's studio recordings.
Beam's music has appeared in a few TV show soundtracks, including Grey's Anatomy and The L Word. Notably, 2008 saw the use of "Passing Afternoon" in the emotional finale of the fourth season of the show House, M.D.. Later in 2008, "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" was used in the film Twilight. The song was specifically chosen for the film's prom scene by Kristen Stewart, the female lead, and appears on the film's soundtrack.
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