Help is on its way, and all these stories sound the same.

This is another one of those times when I ask whoever reads this stuff to weigh in with an opinion.

As you may or may not know, I set myself the somewhat ridiculous goal of releasing four full-length albums this year (it would have been easy enough a decade ago when I didn’t care one bit about anything resembling professionalism or craft; it’s a bit of a different story these days), and I’m working on the second one right now. I hoped to have it completed and ready for public consumption by the end of this month, but it turns out there’s a bit more work to do than I thought there was. Coming up with new material faster than you can keep up with it will cause that to happen, it seems. Because of that, any album I make is continuously shifting and changing shape up until the very last second.

So a May release is looking a little more realistic right now. If I really wanted to go crazy, I could probably get it out there right at the very end of April. But I don’t like to rush things.

I thought I already had the album cover art figured out until I thought of something else and wasn’t so sure anymore. This happens to me every second or third album, I think. And here’s where any feedback anyone might have becomes useful.

Up until yesterday I was pretty set on using this Polaroid picture i took of myself. Don’t ask me how I managed to get the framing just right…almost every subsequent attempt I’ve made at the Polaroid self-portrait has failed pretty miserably, resulting in me wasting a handful of exposures and then swearing after remembering how difficult and elusive the film for this camera is. The important thing is, this one turned out. I like how i look kind of miserable and angular, though I assure you i was neither one of those things when I snapped this picture of myself.

Well…maybe I was a little bit angular. But that’s as far as it went.

So I’d pretty much settled on that. But then I came across this picture I forgot about (not taken by me) from a little while back. And I kind of like it as a hypothetical album cover as well. The background will probably be white instead of grey, but white wouldn’t show up too well here, for obvious reasons.

What do you think? I think i’m now leaning toward idea number two there with Sideways Johnny, though there’s also something I still like about the first image. While I was going to have my friend Lauren draw or paint me something for album art, for some reason I feel like my face needs to appear on this one. Every time my face has shown up on one of my album covers over the past eight years it tends to be obscured in some way, either in shadow or — in the case of MY HELLHOUND CROOKED HEART — in computer-animated form. I don’t know why, but I feel like it’s about time I showed up on an album cover looking like myself, free of manipulation or intentional obfuscation.

Because it’s a breakup album! Only not at all. A few breakup songs do not a breakup album make. But they’re really fun breakup songs, let me tell you. I think you’ll especially enjoy the one I like to call “I’m Not Your Dirty Little Secret Anymore”. It’s the catchiest piece of bile I’ve given birth to since the angry album with the wooden gun on the cover. In other words, it’s sure to make you swoon. And if that doesn’t make you swoon, surely the surprising absence of a long-winded album title will do it.

EDIT: I’ve been playing around with that second picture, and now I’m really liking this arrangement right here.


  1. I like number 2 and I think it would make a great album cover. The question I have is: does is it suit the mood of the album?

    The feeling I associate with Number 1 is intense. The angular look would go well with songs that are bit edgy and have bite.

    Number 2 is softer. I’d expect lighter songs, happier songs and maybe even a melancholic song or two.


    1. you raise some good points, charles…the thing is, there are all kinds of songs; some have bite and are a bit edgy, some are lighter and happier, some are melancholy, and some are just ridiculous. i don’t think anger is the overriding theme, though, so maybe #2 fits the material better.

  2. i think i like #2 as well….i’m thinking of a dropped camera(by who?) taking a picture as it hits the floor of an exhausted Johnny West in the midst of attaining his goal…..

    1. ha! i like that, rog. like a falling fly on the wall. it was an ex-lady friend of mine who took the picture. there was something about it i always liked…maybe a cross between the candidness and the blurriness of it.

  3. i just happened upon this now, and while i appreciate the fact that you like the photo enough to use it as a cover, it actually (legally) belongs to me. i would’ve appreciated being asked permission to use it, and i’m owed at least a credit.

      1. actually, the more i think about it, i believe the water is a little murkier. you took the picture, yes, but it is not a professional photograph. it was not taken under any even remotely professional conditions, it was clear you never intended to sell it in any way, and it was a picture taken of me in my bedroom, without any express verbal permission given by me. i am the “subject”, and i believe i would have more of a leg to stand on if you decided to sell or use it in some way without my permission, as opposed to me using it for a completely non-profit purpose. and i don’t ever use someone else’s work without giving credit.

        i don’t stand to make any money at all by using it…in fact, i would lose money having cds printed, because i don’t charge anyone any money for my music. you wouldn’t stand to lose anything at all (aside from getting a cover art credit in a cd booklet, which i guess some people might construe as a bad thing if they don’t like their names showing up in print).

        if i recall correctly, you also once used a song of mine years ago in a short film you made. i’m pretty sure you didn’t ask for my permission, and i’m pretty sure i have emails to prove it. that music legally belonged to me.

        i didn’t ask your permission because i didn’t think putting a candid photograph taken of me — that i didn’t imagine you would ever want to use for anything — on one of my cd covers would be an issue, especially when no money is involved anywhere along the line.

        but again, if you’re not comfortable with it, i just won’t use the picture.

  4. i’m not uncomfortable with it, and it’s not an “issue”… all i was saying was that i would’ve appreciated being asked permission to use something that was mine (in which case i would’ve been fine with it, because as you said, i wasn’t planning to use it for anything), or at least being told about it. and for the record, the photo is still mine, regardless of the points you made in your first paragraph ( section 13; i have to know this stuff for work).

    and fair enough, i did use a piece of a song of yours years ago (no email proving needed). i think that was a bit different, though, because it was a one minute class project that was shown to a classroom of 15 people once, not something that will be mass produced and distributed, and i did tell you about it.

    regardless, i’m not trying to start a legal battle, and you can obviously decide what you want to do. like i said i’m glad the picture is appreciated, and i’m also glad to hear the credit will be there if you do decide to use it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s