Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Baddest Stamp

The US Post Office seems to get few things right these days.  There is an exception:  The Johnny Cash forever stamp which was issued in June, but I just bought today. 

This has got to be the coolest stamp.  16 stamps on a sheet which is designed to look like a 45 picture sleeve.  I was so impressed with the art direction, that I had to research.  According to the USPS site, the photograph was taken by Frank Bez during the photo session for Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash, which was released in 1963.  Greg Breeding served as art director and designer for the stamp.

Frank Bez shot many celebrities and did a lot of work for Esquire Magazine.  Here is a slide show of a few of his shots and stories behind them. The Jim Morrison photo has to make you laugh.  Duke Ellington was his favorite session.  He has photographed everyone from Angie Dickinson (her Esquire cover has been reproduced a few times) to the Byrds to Mahalia Jackson to Raquel Welch.   How does this guy not have a Wikipedia page? 

Greg Breeding is on assignment by the USPS and was given this project.  (There are three other designers on assignment with the USPS.)  He was born the same year the photo of Johnny was taken.  In an interview on Soundcheck  Greg said when he was a young boy and used to watch Johnny's TV show he thought,  "He was a scary figure to me."   He acknowledged the enormity of finding a photo that summed up Johnny's career.  Greg got the stamp right. Not only does he pay homage to the man in black, but he does so in a simple classic design with great use of brown, black and fonts. 

I thought it was hard to go from designing albums to CD's, but a stamp has got to be a whole other challenge. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stevie Nicks Horror Story

Stevie Nicks, everyone's favorite rock witch is going to appear on American Horror Story: Coven

In an interview with E!, Ryan Murphy, the series creator said,  "The season really is an allegory and a metaphor for any minority group in the country where you feel alone so she's a girl that has never known any other witches and all she's ever known is Stevie Nicks." 

Is Ryan implying that Stevie is a witch?  Maybe they'll try building a bridge out of her during her
appearance on the show.   Obscure reference below:

Friday, November 08, 2013

Dan Wilson In Words and Music

When a musician tells a good story, it's a golden evening.  Dan Wilson took center stage last night at Joe's Pub (with the accompaniment of keyboardist and smart phone programmer Brad Gordon).  Dan told lots of great stories and played lots of great music. 

Dan Wilson at Joe's Pub
I met Dan when I managed his earlier band Trip Shakespeare.  They were a powerhouse. Their live shows were unmatched for excitement and sweat.   Dan had the hits with his next band Semisonic.  Last night he told us of the genesis of Closing Time.  Although Dan was happy to be in his routine of playing the same song each night to close the band's set, band members were bored and wanted something new.  At the same time, he and his wife were expected their first child.  He wrote Closing TimeEvery new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.  When I first heard that song, it brought back so many memories of hanging out in clubs and talking to bands after the show.  There was always someone to say gather your coats and head out, we're closing.

Dan has co-written with "very strong women":  Carole King (his second co-write), the Dixie Chicks, Adele, Pink, etc.   In a story arc that played out over the evening, he began by talking about how initially it was slow going to hook up with other writers. Finally John Titta his music publisher asked his manager Jim Grant, if he would be interested in writing with Carole King.  Dan's mother said to him, remember she spells her name with an "e".  Being nervous at their meeting, the first thing Dan could think of to say to Carole was "My Mom loves you."  She said, "That makes me feel old." 

Several songs later, Dan gets to his writing with Adele.  They meet in this small studio in LA and Adele says I'm not really that familiar with your stuff, but my Mum loves you.  The ironic circle closed.  They wrote Someone Like You.  She played the unfinished song for her manager (who loved it) and her Mum (she cried).  Dan said we must be on to something and they were.

It's the little touches that make a wonderful evening even greater.  Dan who I admire as an artist as well as musician, had printed up a take home memento of the evening. His illustration work can also be seen in the video for his latest single Disappearing

Dan has three more shows on deck tomorrow in Minneapolis, then to Hollywood and San Diego.  Go see him!