Smith & Straughn (a.k.a. the audubon society)


It all started with an English composition assignment. On the first day of classes at Iowa State University, CW Smith’s professor, Kiki Classen, asked each student to bring in a sample of his or her prior composition work: something they felt was indicative of their ability and writing style.

CW brought in a meticulously scored copy of his song, “The Myth (I Used to Believe).” Ms. Classen wasn’t trained in music, and wasn’t at all sure how to interpret CW’s submission. She passed it on to her husband, Rob Straughn, a self-taught folk-rock musician, who unfortunately didn’t read music either.

Rob decided instead to meet CW, and the two struck up a musical partnership that has lasted now for over 25 years. They wrote songs in CW’s dorm room, recording demos on a cassette recorder that were then re-arranged and re-recorded by CW’s band Sound System.

By the end of 1988, CW had transferred to Simpson College, and Rob had moved back to his home town of Madison. The two would send lyrics, chord diagrams and cassette tapes back and forth through the mail, each expanding on the ideas of the other. When Rob came to Iowa at the end of the year, the two set about their first collaborative recording project. The result was the audubon society, a self-titled release that explored their acoustic-rock and folk roots and their more experimental sides as well.

In the following years, the audubon society recorded two more albums, Ancient Blue and The Princess, then a fourth, Ackworth, after renaming themselves Misunderstanding. The new name gave them the freedom to explore more advanced recording techniques and experimental arrangements than would have been appropriate in the acoustic mindset of the audubon society.

By 1996, CW had begun building a recording studio with longtime friend and Sound System alumnus Steve Hudspeth. CW and Rob continued to write and record, but their style and technique continued to evolve. Another new name offered a clean break from the past. They had become Smith & Straughn.

the audubon society: complete works 1988-1992                    PREVIOUS CDNEXT CD

released 1999

the audubon society - complete works

released 1999 • four cassettes on 2 CDs

the audubon society, 1989

    Take Me Away

    This Is Real

    The Privileged Ones

    Someone to Hold Me Close

    Dream of a Scene


    Winter Wind

    Sheila Sometimes

    Another Stranger

    Father, No

    Over the Blue

Ancient Blue, 1989

    Imbroglio Dance

    Someone to Hold On To


    Blue Rain

    Nothing to Write About

    Alone with My Thoughts

    A Colder Day

    Sea of Dreams


    This Is Real

    Ancient Blue


The Princess, 1991

    When Will I Find You?

    Passage to Iberia (Te Quiero)


    Give Me the Simple Life

    Oh, So Beautiful

    A Slap-Dash Affair

    Time That Is Given

Misunderstanding: Ackworth, 1992


    I’ll Get It

    Big Road

    The Prize

    Every Little Sound

    A Little Misunderstanding

    A Wonderful Day

    A Lone Tree

    Sailing Slowly

    ... And So it Came to Pass

    America (Mother of a People)

    Gonna Need an Angel