Skip to main content

Hole Notes with Dale Turner: The Sublime Subtlety of Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam

These videos are bonus content related to the February 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

Sam Beam is a solo musician best known by his stage and recording name, Iron & Wine. Like many successful singer-songwriters of the new millennium, Beam broke into music’s mainstream via film and TV: his recording of “Such Great Heights” (written by the Postal Service) was featured on the soundtrack of the 2004 film Garden State and appeared in an ad for M&Ms.

But his success was far from overnight. By the time he scored with “Such Great Heights,” Beam had released a pair of albums (including 2002’s Creek Drank the Cradle) and had signed to Sub Pop Records.

Prior to that, he’d taught courses in cinematography at the University of Miami and spent nights quietly writing and recording while his wife and daughters slept—hence the development of his early work’s whisper-quiet intimate sound, which many liken to the moody, folkie vibe of Simon & Garfunkel, Nick Drake and Elliott Smith. This month, I’ll look at some of the nuanced fingerstyle moves and colorful voicings of Beam’s best-known songs from Iron & Wine’s decade-plus discography.