So, I know it has been a while – both for me and a music review. But, you know, life happens. And lately, life has been crazy. New, old, unstable, unrelenting, busy life. I’ve been more stressed in the past few months than I have for the entire year.
And so, with all that anxiety in worrying about the past and future, I decided to pick a song that, I believe, is all about focusing on now. “Communion Cups and Someone’s Coat” from Around the Well, is one of my favorites from Iron and Wine. Sam Beam is the man behind the name and has one of the most calming voices I have ever heard. One that I, frankly, cannot get enough of.
The acoustics in this song are simple and beautiful, repeating this flowing melody with sharper upper tones and a ghostly echo. Like so many Iron and Wine songs, there is an earthiness to the sound and an easiness that is both relaxing and familiar. There are no drums, no bass, and nothing fancy – just Sam’s voice, the guitar, and a woman’s voice backing vocals to enhance the wonder.
Sam starts in with the first set of verses and answers:
Talk of yesterday and she will show her
brothers photographed in calloused clothes.
Say tomorrow and she’ll say come find me,
on a beach and there will be no moon.
and she will
kiss your face
Looking at this, many meanings can come forward from the lyrics dependent on a person’s history and life experiences. For me, right now, it is about today. The woman Sam talks about goes off on a sad nostalgia (photographed, calloused clothes) when asked about the past and when it comes to the future, it is dark and unknown (no moon). However, when you ask about the present and what is happening now, she is delighted.
The second verse continues this:
Talk of yesterday like bargain shoestring,
she will kick the car and find her friends.
Say tomorrow and then she’ll describe some
old communion cups and someone’s coat.
and she may
look your way
and lead you
When the past is mentioned, the woman is angered and begins to look for her friends. To me that is a reaction to find comfort now in the people that surround you. When the tomorrow comes about, she diverges and reminisces on details that are not important in life. As if to say, why focus on things to come and not enjoy right now? I love how when today is the topic, she pays attention to the speaker and leads them home. She is so delighted to be in the moment with another person that she will share her home.
This song is a reminder to me to stop worrying about what happened yesterday, quit analyzing the probabilities of my futures, and just enjoy the now. Be present in the moment and live life.
Please take a listen to the song here . I encourage you to then keep exploring Iron and Wine and bathe in Sam’s heart-wrenching sound.