This morning I will be listening to The Crane Wife by The Decemberists. It’s one of my newlyish favorite albums.. I’ve already gotten to the end of it and I think I will just listen to it on repeat until further notice for the day.
The Crane Wife is an album by The Decemberists, released in 2006. It was produced by Tucker Martine and Chris Walla, and is the band’s first album on the Capitol Records label. The album was inspired by a Japanese folk tale, and centers on two song cycles, The Crane Wife and The Island, the latter of which was inspired by William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. National Public Radio listeners voted The Crane Wife the best album of 2006.
1 The Crane Wife 3
2 The Island
3 Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)
4 O Valencia!
5 The Perfect Crime #2
6 When the War Came
7 Shankill Butchers
9 The Crane Wife 1 & 2
10 Sons & Daughters
The Crane Wife is an old Japanese tale. While there are many variations of the tale, a common version is that a poor man finds an injured crane on his doorstep (or outside with an arrow in it), takes it in and nurses it back to health. After he releases the crane, a woman appears at his doorstep with whom he falls in love and marries. Because they need money, his wife offers to weave wondrous clothes out of silk that they can sell at the market, but only if he agrees never to watch her making them. They begin to sell them and live a comfortable life, but he soon makes her weave them more and more. Oblivious to his wife’s diminishing health, his greed increases. He eventually peeks in to see what she is doing to make the silk she weaves so desirable. He is shocked to discover that at the loom is a crane plucking feathers from her own body and weaving them into the loom. The crane, seeing him, flies away and never returns.
Band leader Colin Meloy found a version of this story and decided to write music based on it.