Saturday, February 29, 2020

"Men with broken hearts"

RCA Victor art director Robert Jones and photographer Les Leverette won a Grammy Award in 1966 for Best Album Cover Photography for Porter Wagoner's Confessions of a Broken Man. In 1997, Leverette described the photo shoot for radio host and cultural activist Art Menius: “[Producer] Bob [Ferguson] called me and explained the idea of doing an album cover with Porter dressed up as 'Skid Row Joe'—washed out, tired, drunk, if you may. He’s a bum."
We agreed to go down to the steps at the back of the Ryman [Auditorium] one afternoon so that the sun would be away, and it would be nice, soft lighting. Knowing the fact that this was a sad album—recitations, men with broken hearts—and knowing that Ektakrome film in the daylight will give you a kind of blue cast when you are away from the sun, especially late in the day, I chose to use that. That doggone cover went on to when the Grammy for Album Cover of the Year from NARAS, much to everybody’s surprise. The first time a Nashville photographer ever won that award.
Confessions of a Broken Man (1966)
I can't confirm that Leverette also took the iconic photo for the cover of The Cold Hard Facts of Life, which followed in 1967. That and the image on the cover of The Bottom of the Bottle (1968, photographer unknown) tell a story that skirts melodrama and camp while remaining in touch with the very real sorrows at the origin point. Of the era.

The Cold Hard Facts of Life (1967)
The Bottom of the Bottle (1968)


elhombremalo said...

The Nomads doffed their hat to the cover with their Cold Hard Facts of Life - art direction by Neko Case

Joe Bonomo said...

Ha, great. I'f forgotten about that!

T. Tex Edwards said...

Here is the story behind the Porter Wagoner 'Cold Hard Facts of Life' cover investigated by Greg Germani:

Joe Bonomo said...

Thanks, T.!