Monday, April 14, 2008

An Essay on Influence

"I saw that photograph of the men standing around the pool table, and read that phrase, '2-Kool 2-Be 4-Gotten,' and the inspiration was obvious. Every time I sing that song I credit Birney Imes. Birney's work is, in photography, what a good blues song is to me-gritty, edgy in all its parallels."

-Lucinda Williams

This record is ten years old now. It sounds as good to me now as it did then. I remember how thrilled I was when I made the connection between the record I was listening to and the book of photographs that I had been looking at. I love it when work by artists in one medium cross reference work by artists working in another medium. It can also be a tiresome exercise when the point of the work is the reference itself. Such is not the case here. A lot of the lyrics from this song are taken directly from the words on the walls in the photographs from Birney Imes' book Juke Joint, but in the end what you get is a Lucinda Williams song. As a photographer, and one who has photographed musicians, it's rewarding and revelatory to find that we are often drinking from the same well. I know a lot of photographers and some my closest friends are photographers, but the most rewarding exchanges have often come from the musicians, painters, writers, filmmakers, and friends working in other mediums. Maybe there is less competition there, or that the discussion rarely strays to shop talk. But more than likely it's the recognition that we find a commonality through our ideas and our collection of cultural influences, and in that, it validates for us what we do and why it matters to us.


"2 Kool 2 Be 4-gotten" mp3
by Lucinda Williams, 1998.
available on Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

Photograph by Birney Imes
Freedom Village Juke
, Washington County 1985.
from the book Juke Joint, University of Mississippi Press. © 1990


F Daum said...

Thanks for showing me the Jamel Shabazz book. I was thinking about about the Caroline, No radio broadcast yesterday: Tadayuki Yuki on drums, a Go-Go's cover, "Lamp shade on My Head", someone being a Portuguese, and jokes about having to get to the new Fassbinder screening.
Come look at this Flickr album of mine:

You might like this on Flickr:

-Francisco said...

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Is this Alright? If Is not good then let me know

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Anonymous said...

Strange, I have seen this wonderful book in the past and just picked it up from my bosses bookcase during a dull moment at work. I was suddenly very intrigued by the writing on the wall. "Aren't those Lucinda lyrics?". Although Lucinda is a friend of mine, the inspiration behind her amazing songs mostly remains a mystery to me. It was great to find your blog and the answer to my which came 1st the wall or the lyrics dilemma . God bless Lucinda and Birney Imes!!