My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
It never ceases to amaze me when magical sequences of events happen, are somehow tied together and make visible shifts in one’s life.
A little earlier in the same year we made the cover for Conor in Mexico we were invited to collaborate with Jim James on a cover for one of our most favorite bands’ ever My Morning Jacket. Wow! Jim came to Malibu where we live and we spent three intense days in our studio working out the cover art. Jenice and I had done many days of research and collecting images, stories, etc beforehand. It was electric when ideas were crackling around the room between the three of us. We were building a very large and elaborate montage of images to tell a story that started with Jim. It was about World’s Fairs and large congregation of humanity, energy, thought, art and money around a central idea that has global reach. These events were always met with great enthusiasm and people marked epochs in their lives by having attended a World’s Fair. One story that is a part of the lore of the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1890 was told in a very popular book The Devil in the White City. It tells of a serial killer who was connected to the Fair itself and was big news at the time in the city of Chicago. I really love the final art we made and think it is a “talking picture”; it has a story to tell and tells it eloquently. At the same time it’s very mysterious too.
My Morning Jacket had never had a photo of themselves on an album cover - it had always been some kind of art. This time we were able to include some beautiful photos of the band that Autumn De Wilde took in an elaborate gilded Baroque theatre building in Chicago. We integrated the balconies into the elaborate shapes and designs of the Ferris wheel and other structures at the Fair. I think this is one of the very best covers we have made. I love telling stories with images and that is what informs everything I do in visualizing the music I so love. For me it’s all about communicating visually and how you can orchestrate visual elements and put together a string of predictable responses utilizing the most subtle, honest and organic influences. When you are creating imagery for music you have that as a guide, a map and a thread to follow either with the lyric content or the tone, and mood of the music itself.
For awhile people were asking what ever happened to good music and bemoaning there not being good bands out there. I was so busy doing art for continuously new and exciting music with Neil Young that it never occurred to me there was any validity to that argument. In the end I have irrefutable verification that good music and all that goes with that is alive and well in the 21st Century. Conor, Jim and other young singer-songwriter troubadours are hard at work making music to feed our spirits.