Classic Album covers : Late For The Sky - Jackson Browne

Late for the Sky is the third album by American singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, released in 1974

Browne, as usual, conceptialised the album cover. Fancying art that would evoke the Belgian painter Rene Magritte’s 1954 painting ‘L’Empire des Lumieres’ (‘Empire of Light’),, he dropped in one day on Bob Seidemann, the photographer hired for the project, and tacked a poster of one of the Magritte paintings on his studio wall. “He asked me to duplicate it with a Chevy [in front of a house],” says Seidemann. “It was Jackson Browne’s Los Angelization of Magritte”

The photographer found an appropriate house around the corner from his studio, in Hancock Park, an upper-middle-class L.A. neighborhood of large, older houses. Then he went about the business of snapping. Seidemann, however, had no luck shooting a partly cloudy, bright sky in Los Angeles to splice onto his moody house/Chevy photograph, confessing a slight inconsistency in the Los g just the right dusk shot. “It took weeks,” he recalls. “I wanted just enough light so that we could catch the edge of the leaves of the trees. If it was [too] dark those leaves would have disappeared into the night. One of the reasons the photo works so well is that it’s photo graphically accurate. It’s not painted in.” It’s not all Los Angeles, though - he got the sky from a David Muench landscape of Table Mesa, New Mexico. Seidemann reversed the negative so we see a mirror-image on the album cover

Browne was delighted with the result. Bob Seldemann: “I spoke to Jackson in 1980 and he told me he thought it was his favourite cover “. The triumph of the cover lies not only in the fact that it is arresting. The Chevrolet, empty house, and sky are Late for the Sky lyrical props (further, in the songs the sky serves as the album’s most striking symbol of death/salvation); and the juxtaposition of darkness and light reflects Browne’s lyrical juxtapositions of resignation and idealistic determination, death and rebirth. The photo, meanwhile, is forebodingly framed in black, also the colour of the back side of the album. Lest the cover appear too funereal, a mood-defusing photo of a relaxed Jackson, almost smiling and looking as though he has a surprise to we share, occupies a small square of the back cover. In all, the jacket does justice to the stunning work of pop/rock art that lies between the grooves of Late for the Sky

The album itself contains the credit, ‘cover concept Jackson Browne if it’s all reet with Magritte’



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