Released on Oct 3, 2006, The Crane Wife is the fourth album by The Decemberists, and first on Capitol Records. The concept for the album was inspired by a Japanese folk tale:
A common version of this story is that a poor man finds an injured crane on his doorstep and nurses it back to health. He releases the crane, and soon after a woman appears at his doorstep with whom he falls in love and marries. To earn money his wife offers to weave clothes that they can sell, but only if he agrees never to watch her making them. He eventually peeks in to see what she is doing and 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.
Some songs on the album were also inspired by William Shakespear's The Tempest.
In 2006, NPR listeners voted The Crane Wife the best album of the year.