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Portland, OR, 97214

Sonic Sketches are beautiful, three-panel portraits of the world's greatest songs…transformed into striking works of visual art.

The Decemberists – "The Crane Wife (1 & 2)"

The Decemberists – "The Crane Wife (1 & 2)"


The Decemberists – "The Crane Wife (1 & 2)"

from 79.00

Sounding both ornate and unadorned, intimate and epic, “The Crane Wife (1 & 2)” is, in many ways, emblematic of The Decemberists, whose sprawling, grandiose style serves to complement –rather than dilute– singer Colin Meloy’s eloquent, affectional storytelling. 

Like the Japanese folktale from which it’s drawn, “The Crane Wife” is a fable of love, greed, free agency, and loss. Also in common with traditional folklore is the song’s use of animal/human transformation: a poor man, finding an injured crane, nurses the bird back to health and releases it. Soon after, a beautiful woman arrives at the man’s home, and the two marry. As the couple are desperately poor, the woman offers to weave silken clothing, which can then be sold at a nearby market. Her only condition: that the man never watch her as she works. Time passes, and the couple grows wealthy. Rather than being content, the man grows increasingly greedy, and forces the woman to make even more clothing. As her workload escalates, the woman’s health declines; the man, blinded by greed, fails to notice. Finally, in his desire to learn the secret of his wife’s success, he peeks into the room where she weaves her clothes, and sees a large female crane plucking feathers from her own body and inserting them into the loom. The crane, seeing the man, flies away and never returns.

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