Posted by: ableanna | March 12, 2008

Album Art: Talking Heads

I have been thinking a lot about the association between visual art and music; how this is changing rapidly and what this will come to mean in the history of our popular culture.

Growing up, there was nothing better than to spend a rainy afternoon sifting through my parents record collection, (which were stored in those gigantic brightly colored milk crates, stacked high in the middle of the living room) listening to music, reading the lyrics on the paper insert and intensely studying the detailed artwork found on these albums. Personally, the artwork wove an intricate story that would spark my imagination and narrate certain songs, or simply provide clues as to what the overall theme of the album was.

My memories of this are so strong that some songs will forever be associated with certain images i.e. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A. Actually, do I need to explain the visual to you?

My question is, how, or maybe, *what* sort of visual interpretation exists in our current iPodified culture? We have teensy images that may accompany a song, but it hardly feels like art. It hardly feels. I guess that to me, there is a lack of that tangibility. A lack of touch. Music only seems to appeal to sound- we no longer need to leaf through a lyric book, study album art, or place a needle on a disc to emit sound. The only thing I can think of is MTV, only now it would be more YouTube.

I do not have an answer, yet, but it is my intent to make Album Art a regular feature here.

For today, I am featuring one of my favorite album covers, designed and created by the lead singer, David Byrne:

Talking Heads

The album features portraits of the band members, which are a composite of Polaroid photographs taken by David Byrne. The realization that each square represented its own photograph blew me away and I have idolized him ever since. I’ve only just noticed now that this album most likely influenced my interest in David Hockney’s photography when I was in art school (and more interested on his opinions of it…. but that’s another topic for this blog). For the moment, just enjoy the visual parallels… and perpendiculars.




  1. The Talking Heads album cover is a throwback to 19th century French pointerlism. It also evokes a very very crude form of digital images, or pixellation. Think of what your digital camera would produce if it was a 1k camera, (not 8meg or similar)

    The Fear of Music cover was , in my opinion, just as revolutionary and out of the box

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