Thursday, January 14, 2010

Artist's Books on the Play List

If you've been to my studio, you know that I like to work to all kinds of music. So what could be better than music that is also packaged like a book? Two recent CD acquisitions in my collection fit this bill, and I thought you might like to see them.

The first, Steve Martin's The Crow ( the original wild & crazy guy), is his 5-string banjo music. If you've never worked to banjo before, it is great for book making. Try Bela Fleck or Elliott Sussman (oh, shameless plug here; that's my boy). Got a deadline? Get out the banjo CDs and slide on home!

Inside The Crow's front cover, there is a wonderful 3-D pop-up construction of a stage. An extra panel with a sleeve in back contains a little book with back story on the compositions, a kind of musical colophon demystifying how and why the tunes came to be. There's no need to fill those pages with pesky lyrics when you write banjo music, no sir. The graphics throughout the package are retro cool and the whole thing is just delightful. Martin declares, "this is the most expensive banjo album in the history of the universe." Did I mention his banjo music is also very nice? Truly Wonderful and Just As Advertised.

Another example is "Draw the Line" by David Gray, a songwriter favorite and regular on the playlist here. This package is bound like a hard cover book with a french groove on the spine, and incorporates a ten page signature that includes all the words to the songs. The lyric pages are a fanciful combination of graphics and type headings that look rubber stamped, like an artist's visual journal. The limited color palette (sepia with selected photo tinting and the song titles in neon orange) gives the album a nostalgic feel, reminding me of the glory days of rubber stamping.

Music grows increasingly digital, and little gems like these will surely disappear as more of us click and buy online. For now, I love a little documentation with my music, and kudos to these two artists for creating wonderful, unexpected visual treats.


  1. I loved this entry and will go seek out these gems. I grew up with the fabulous art of album covers "back in the day" and have always missed the experience of sitting down to listen to t new album while looking at the cover details. That was such a great art form.
    Thanks for sharing! Oh, and I like banjo music too.