by Patrick Roefflaer
This is the 30th article in our unique series looking at the artwork on Bob Dylan’s albums. A full list of the articles in the series is published here.
The album: Dylan
- Released: November 16, 1973
- Illustration: Richard Kenerson
- Art-director: John Berg
The exact date Bob Dylan signed a contract with Asylum is nowhere to be found. Some suggest there may be no contract at all. According to Rolling Stone, it was a gentlemen’s agreement, sealed with a handshake.
Therefore it is not clear what the arrangements are for the Dylan album, in the switch from the singer to another record company, after 12 years with Columbia Records.
According to one story, the album is seen as an act of revenge by his old firm, to ridicule the renegade artist by releasing substandard material. Others think it is the last straw, after which Dylan closes the door and makes the switch. Away from the firm that sees him as a has-been and would rather lose him than keep him.
As asking Dylan to pose for a cover photo is not an option, the graphics department has to work with existing material. A photo by Al Clayton is chosen. Curiously, it was previously printed on the inner sleeve of Self Portrait. The photo, taken on May 3, 1969, shows Dylan, along with some musicians, listening to a playback of a recording, while his son Jesse is playing on the floor.
Richard Kenerson uses an enlarged view of Dylan’s head from this photo as the basis for a screen print. The portrait in profile is placed in front of a metallic, silver-colored background and then enhanced with a red, yellow, purple and black stripe. It remains a guess as to the intention.
Dylan’s head from this photo as the basis for a screen print. The portrait in profile is placed in front of a metallic, silver-colored background and then enhanced with a red, yellow, purple and black stripe. It remains a guess as to the intention.
There is not much more information on the cover. And a little piece of information provided, raises further questions: “Back cover photograph and album design by John Berg.”
Remarkable, because the image of the front is simply reproduced once more, albeit in a more sober version without the colored stripes. Perhaps Berg provided the photo placed over it: something that most resembles boulders in a river bed.
A few weeks after the album was released, there is a single: “A Fool Such As I”.
Apparently, a more recent photo of the singer has been found to promote it. Its’ a black-and-white photo, taken during the filming of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.
Dylan is shown squinting into the lens, with a look that is somewhere between amused and annoyed. Wouldn’t this have been a better image for the cover?
2: Can’t help falling in love
3: Sarah Jane
4: The Ballad of Ira Hayes
1: Mr Bo Jangles
2: Mary Anne
3: Big Yellow Taxi
4: A fool sucyh as I
5: Spanish is the Loving Tongue