October 13, 2015

"... Bob Dylan’s backlit corona of hair, the Chicago logo embossed in chocolate and Bruce Springsteen sharing a private joke with the saxophonist Clarence Clemons..."

The album covers of John Berg, who has died at the age of 83.
At Columbia, Mr. Berg’s job drew not only on his flair for packaging but also on his esteemed eye for selection. Assigned to create a cover for “Born to Run,” he found himself contemplating with distaste the sober posed photograph that Mr. Springsteen had chosen.

“Bruce showed me the picture he wanted, which I always describe as ‘John Updike,’ ” Mr. Berg recalled in The East Hampton Star interview. “He looked like an author, one of those back-cover-of-his-book pictures. I asked him to leave the stuff with me and I would go through the contacts.”

Sifting the images, by Eric Meola, Mr. Berg came upon one of Mr. Springsteen in a moment of candid intimacy, his face dissolving in mirth as he leaned on Mr. Clemons’s shoulder.

With that image, the album’s cover became one of the most totemic of all time....

12 comments:

MadisonMan said...

The corrections sometimes crack me up. Like today's:

An earlier version of a picture caption with this article misidentified the album cover on the bottom left. It is Thelonious Monk’s “Underground,” not “George Szell Conducts Beethoven.”

Laslo Spatula said...

The Vinyl LP with its cover: gone.

Playboy's Nudes: going.

Bastards aren't gonna take my Mood Ring.


I am Laslo.

Gordon said...

Geez, ANY excuse to write about little Bobby Zimmerman. If only he had written a song about Madison the way he did about Minneapolis. Or, had you taken a job at Minnesota law school instead, you positively could have bought a house on 4th Street. Ah, well, coulda shoulda.

Carol said...

Haha, I bought that Thelonious Monk Underground album. I'd heard of him somewhere, and the cover suckered me in. It was not his best effort but it was enough to display his oddness, and make me laugh.

So I guess the album art worked.

Gordon said...

As Carol suggests, cover art was important. One of the things about the conversion from LPs to cassettes to CDs has been the decline of album cover art. The same thing has happened with indie publishing; without the resources of the publishing company to provide the money to pay artists, lots of indie books have, um, less colorful covers, if they have any at all.

But successful indie writers will tell you that good cover art makes a difference, even if it's only glimpsed on Amazon.

Coupe said...

I can never find a way to use totemic in a sentence.

Scott said...

@Coupe: Yeah, that bugged me too. "Totemic" is sort of like "venerated" but referencing an animistic world view. I think the author is engaging in a little twee culture surfing. It's hyperbole with a stupid cultural reference.

Unknown said...

Did he take the iconic shot of the woman in a dog collar smelling a glove for the Spinal Tap album?

Scott said...

Are there shades of degree between "iconic" and "totemic?"

"It was ironic that it was so iconic that it became totemic," he said laconically.

Nichevo said...

Was he Teutonic on the Taconic?

"Ja."

traditionalguy said...

He was more a colonic.

And I am wondering what's wrong with admiring a unique man that came from your hometown or not?

Walking in the shoes of ordinary men is easy, but walking in the shoes of a Master in a field needs some comments at every opportunity. Bobby Jones was an Atlanta lawyer that went to my Law school, and he played some Amateur Golf, but there has never been as great a master in his field.

Nichevo said...

Why do you lawyers always Capitalize incorrectly? Is it a Thing?