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Guest Post: Michelle's Favorite Record

My Favorite Record

by Michelle Cornelison

My favorite vinyl record in my collection is The Creek Drank the Cradle by Iron
& Wine, released on Sub Pop records in 2002. I won’t go to much into the context and specifics of its release because I want to focus on its structure in the LP format.

This is my favorite record to listen to. The album art is, on the whole,
unremarkable—no fancy heavyweight double LPs with full color storybooks here, which is pretty typical of a Sub Pop vinyl release. It does have a modest insert with lyrics and a few images, one of which I actually just realized looks like a drypoint etching, which is a pretty cool side note. I call this my favorite because it is the one I listen to most often (the record that is, not the album in general). Many of us have certain albums or bands we enjoy especially during a specific season or time of day. In The Creek Drank the Cradle I have found a collection of songs that fit all seasons, all moments.

The first time I ever listened to this album in full was in the vinyl format. I know this is cheesy, but I remember the day clearly. I spent nearly the whole morning in my room painting the walls green, with the sun shining in the windows, taking breaks to flip records. I remember thinking how perfect this album was for the occasion, specifically “Rooster Moans,” the fifth track on side one.

Another thing worth noting about The Creek Drank the Cradle is the first song. First songs are so important for an entire album to be good. I don’t know about you, but I am very much an album person when it comes to listening to music. Maybe it comes from being an artist, but I really value experiencing the songs the way the artist intended. But if I find myself needing to skip over songs when listening to an album, I will certainly still listen to it, but it will most likely never become a favorite. All that chatter to say, the first song, “Lion’s Mane” is spectacular, and anyone who has listened to it must know that it is the auditory equivalent of basking in the sun with your eyes closed. It’s a great one for waking up. Records always have two first songs though (or four, etc.; one for each side). The second first song, “Southern Anthem,” is also strong.

Last songs are equally important (and again, this record has two). Maybe I am being ridiculous, but when the break between sides of a record does not feel like a natural pause it makes me uneasy. (But I shouldn’t complain; I suppose the more abrupt the changeover is the less likely I am to accidentally leave the needle dragging around the center of the record for half an hour). The last song on the first side is both heavenly and haunting. It is without question my favorite on the album, and possibly my favorite by the artist. It is definitely a falling asleep song. I encourage you to find it and listen—even as
a single track, from your computer, although it is even better with the whole album. The actual last track is a good one (“Muddy Hymnal”), but I think some of the previous songs could have better served as the finale, especially “Weary Memory.” I think it might be because “Muddy Hymnal” is such a short song, at less than three minutes.

And so ends my endorsement of this excellent release from Sub Pop, which I recommend to listeners of all ages and backgrounds (I guess except for the fourth track, which contains a certain contentious word. But every other song is lullaby-appropriate). I will conclude with the lyrics to my favorite track, “Upward Over the Mountain.” Cheers.

Mother don’t worry, I killed the last snake that lived in the creek bed.
Mother don’t worry, I’ve got some money I save for the weekend.
Mother, remember being so stern with that girl who was with me?
Mother, remember the blink of an eye when I breathed through your body?

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten.
Sons are like birds, flying upward over the mountain.

Mother I made it up from the bruise of a floor of this prison.
Mother I lost it, all of the fear of the Lord I was given.
Mother forget me now that the creek drank the cradle you sang to.
Mother forgive me, I sold your car for the shoes that I gave you.

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten.
Sons can be birds taken broken up to the mountain.

Mother don’t worry, I’ve got a coat and some friends on the corner.
Mother don’t worry, she’s got a garden we’re planting together.
Mother, remember the night that the dogs had her pups in the pantry?
Blood on the floor, the fleas on their paws, and you cried ‘til the morning.

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten.
Sons are like birds, flying always over the mountain.

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