Iron & Wine

Iron & Wine

Beam performing in 2015
Background information
Birth name Samuel Ervin Beam
Born (1974-07-26) July 26, 1974
Chapin, South Carolina, United States
Associated acts
Iron & Wine at a 2006 concert at Brooklyn's McCarren Park Pool

Samuel "Sam" Ervin Beam[1] (born July 26, 1974), better known by his stage and recording name Iron & Wine, is an American singer-songwriter. He has released five 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). He occasionally tours with a full band.[2]

Beam was raised in South Carolina before moving to Virginia and then Florida to attend school. He now resides in Durham, North Carolina.[3] The name Iron & Wine is taken from a dietary supplement named "Beef, Iron & Wine" that he found in a general store while shooting a film.[4][5]

Early life

Beam was raised in Chapin, 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 School, Chapin Middle School, and Chapin High School. While home from college, he was a waiter at California Dreaming restaurant in Columbia. Beam earned a bachelor's degree in art from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. He specialized in painting before graduating from the Florida State University Film School with an MFA degree. Before the release of the first Iron & 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.[6] He had been writing songs for over seven years before a friend lent him a four-track recorder. He began making demos and gave one to his friend Michael Bridwell, brother of Band of Horses lead singer, Ben Bridwell. Michael handed it to Mike McGonigal, editor of Yeti magazine, who chose "Dead Man's Will", later released on In the Reins, for inclusion on one of his magazine's compilation CDs. Beam later came to the attention of Sub Pop Records co-owner, Jonathan Poneman, who contacted Beam to propose a deal.[7][8][9][10]

Musical career

Beam released his first Iron & 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,[11] Simon and Garfunkel,[12] Elliott Smith, Neil Young and John Fahey.

Also in 2002, Beam recorded a cover of The Postal Service's then-unreleased song "Such Great Heights". Rather than being included on an Iron & Wine release, the track was initially included as a b-side of the original version by The Postal Service. It was later included on the B-sides and rarities album, Around the Well. He then followed up on his debut album in 2003 with The Sea & The Rhythm, an EP containing other home-recorded tracks with a similar style to the songs on the debut.

Beam's second full-length 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, he recorded the song "The Trapeze Swinger" for the film In Good Company, and had his version of "Such Great Heights" featured in an advertisement for M&M's and in the film and soundtrack for Garden State. This version was later used in a 2006 advertisement, and eventually released as a single in 2006 backed with recordings of "The Trapeze Swinger" and "Naked as We Came" made for Radio Vienna.

Sarah Beam, Samuel's sister, at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland

In February 2005, he released an EP entitled Woman King, which expanded on the sounds of his previous LP with the addition of electric guitars. Each track features 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 southwestern rock, traditional Mexican music and jazz to the songs' arrangements. Several tracks, most notably, "Burn That Broken Bed", feature brass instruments, a first for Beam's music.[13]

The third full-length Iron & Wine album, entitled The Shepherd's Dog, was released September 25, 2007.[14] This album was voted one of the ten best of 2007 by Paste magazine.[15] Contributors included Joey Burns and Paul Niehaus of Calexico, as well as jazz musicians Matt Lux and Rob Burger.[16] 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."[17]

Beam has released most of his music on iTunes, including several exclusive EPs. The Iron & 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) 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 television series such as Grey's Anatomy, The L Word and House M.D. "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.

The B-sides and rarities album Around the Well was released in 2009. Iron & Wine also contributed the song "Stolen Houses (Die)" to the AIDS benefit album Dark Was the Night produced by the Red Hot Organization.

On November 26, 2010 Iron & Wine released a special edition Record Store Day Black Friday 12" vinyl and CD single called, Walking Far From Home for independent record stores.

Kiss Each Other Clean, Iron & Wine's fourth full-length album, was released on January 25, 2011 on Warner Bros. Records in North America and 4AD for the rest of the world.[18] With this album, Beam blended his earlier styles with a stronger pop influence.[19]

Iron & Wine's fifth studio album, Ghost on Ghost, was released on 15/16 April 2013 on Nonesuch Records in North America and 4AD for the rest of the world.[20] Ghost on Ghost marked a further exploration into the pop sounds of Kiss Each Other Clean while also exhibiting jazz and R&B influences, with jazz drummer Brian Blade contributing to the album.

In January 2014, recording during the polar vortex in Chicago, Sam Beam and his regular collaborator Brian Deck co-produced eight of the ten songs on Chadwick Stokes' 2015 album The Horse Comanche.[21] Beam contributed the Iron & Wine band to the sessions and sang backing vocals.

In February 2015, Iron & Wine released a new studio album, Archive Series: Volume 1, which features unreleased songs recorded during the same period as The Creek Drank the Cradle. The covers album Sing Into My Mouth was released July 17; it was recorded with Band of Horses singer Ben Bridwell.[22]

On February 4, 2016, Iron & Wine premiered two new, unrecorded songs, "Kicking the Old Rain" and "Thomas County Law", on Pitchfork Radio. Beam indicated that both songs were to be released on a unannounced forthcoming release of his, and not on his upcoming album of duets with singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop.[23]

On April 15, 2016, Iron & Wine released Love Letter for Fire, an album of duets with American singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop, on Sub Pop. The album features contributions from Wilco's Glenn Kotche, Rob Burger, Eyvind Kang, Sebastian Steinberg, and Edward Rankin-Parker. It was produced, recorded, and mixed by Tucker Martine. Iron & Wine and Jesca Hoop are touring North America in support of the album, starting in May 2016.[24]

Personal life

Beam, his wife Kim, and their five daughters live in Durham, North Carolina.[25] He was raised in the Bible belt as a Christian, but is now an agnostic: "That was a confusing time for me, but I don't miss being misled. I'm not an atheist. There's an undeniable unseen world that some people call God and think they know more about than other people. I try not to get hung up on the names."[26][27]

In 2011, a portrait of Beam was painted by British artist Joe Simpson. The painting was exhibited around the UK, including in a solo exhibition at The Royal Albert Hall.[28]



List of albums, with selected chart positions, sales figures and certifications
Year Album Peak chart positions
2002 The Creek Drank the Cradle
2004 Our Endless Numbered Days 158
2007 The Shepherd's Dog 24 24 74
2011 Kiss Each Other Clean 2 36 15 54 10 24 57 32
2013 Ghost on Ghost 26 88 32 43 100 40
2015 Sing into My Mouth (with Ben Bridwell) 116 67
2016 Love Letter for Fire[38] (with Jesca Hoop) 173
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or was not released in that territory
Year Album US
2009 Around the Well[29] 25 B-sides and rarities compilation
2015 Archive Series Volume No. 1
Live albums
Year Albums US UK Notes
2005 Iron & Wine Live Bonnaroo
2009 Norfolk 6/20/05
2011 Morning Becomes Eclectic


Year EPs US UK Notes
2002 Iron & Wine Tour EP
2003 The Sea & The Rhythm
2004 Iron & Wine iTunes Exclusive EP iTunes only
2005 Woman King[29] 128
2005 In the Reins[39] 135 with Calexico
2006 Live Session (iTunes Exclusive) iTunes only
2006 Live at Lollapalooza 2006 iTunes only


Other contributions


  2. Tangari, Joe "Iron & Wine Interview" Pitchfork - October 1, 2007
  3. McDonald, Sam "Iron and Wine returns for solo show" - February 21, 2014
  4. Cosyns, Simon (2007-11-01). "Iron and Wine star on full Beam". The Sun. London.
  5. Marchese, David "Why He's Called... Iron and Wine" - January 10, 2011
  6. "Iron and Wine, Jason Ferguson, Miami New Times, April 10, 2008".
  7. ""Iron and Wine", Georgiana Cohen,".
  8. Gross, Joe (26 Sep 2007). "Music". Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  9. ""Planting Together: An interview with Iron and Wine's Sam Beam", Maud Newton".
  10. ""Iron & Wine: Biography", James Christopher Monger, Rovi".
  11. Kearney, Ryan (2002-10-02). "Iron & Wine: The Creek Drank the Cradle". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
  12. Bickford, B.R. (2003-02-19). "Iron & Wine: "The Creek Drank the Cradle"". Retrieved 2006-05-14.
  13. "Burn That Broken Bed" (Media notes). Iron & Wine. 2011.
  14. Khanna, Vish."Iron and Wine’s Guiding Light", Exclaim!, October 2007.
  15. Paste magazine issue #38
  16. Khanna, Vish (October 2007). "Iron and Wine's Guiding Light". Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  17. Gill, Andy (2006-11-17). "Sam Beam: Love, God, death and a tree of bees". London: The Independent.
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 15, 2010. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
  19. Rosen, Jody (3 February 2011). "Iron & Wine's Technicolor Roots". The Rolling Stone. p. 64.
  20. "Iron & Wine Return With New Album Ghost on Ghost, Share New Track "Lovers' Revolution" | News". Pitchfork. 2013-01-31. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  21. Goodman, Asha. "Chadwick Stokes' The Horse Comanche Out Now to Widespread Acclaim". Sacks & Co. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  22. Ryan, Shane (April 2, 2015). "Iron & Wine, Band of Horses to Collaborate on Covers Album". Paste.
  23. "Iron & Wine's Sam Beam to Debut Two New Songs on Pitchfork Radio This Afternoon". Pitchfork. 2016-02-04. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
  24. Monroe, Jazz (2016-02-10). "Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) Teams With Jesca Hoop for Duets Album and Tour". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
  25. Menconi, David "Iron & Wine finds a new home in Durham" The News & Observer - June 26, 2014
  26. Newton, Maud "Planting Together: An interview with Iron and Wine’s Sam Beam" The High Hat
  27. Brown, Helen "Iron and Wine: Don't mention the beard" The Telegraph - September 15, 2007
  28. Breihan, Tom "Ezra Koenig, Matt Berninger, Sam Beam Immortalized in Oil Paintings" Pitchfork - February 23, 2011
  29. 1 2 3 4 Iron & Wine > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums, AllMusic
  30. "Billbarod 200: August 8, 2015". Billboard.
  31. "Discography Iron & Wine". Australian Recording Industry Association.
  32. "Iron & Wine Album & Song Chart History: "Canadian Albums"". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.
  33. "Iron & Wine". Dutch charts.
  34. "Iron & Wine". Norwegian charts.
  35. "Iron & Wine". Hung Medien.
  36. "Iron & Wine". Schweizer Hitparade. Hung Medien.
  37. "Iron & Wine". The Official Charts Company.
  38. Young, Alex (2016-02-10). "Iron & Wine's Sam Beam announces new album with Jesca Hoop, shares "Every Songbird Says" — listen". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2016-06-02.
  39. Iron & Wine In the Reins Charts > Billboard Albums, AllMusic
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