Cover Art, part 1

Phew! I had a stretch there where it seemed like I was always either packing, unpacking, or on the road to the next show, convention, or writing workshop. The toughest day was last Friday, with a quick morning show at PCR; then a 109 mile drive to Palm Springs to do an afternoon presentation for the annual gathering of the California Science Teachers’ Association; then an evening outdoor show in front of 350 science teachers who were dividing their attention between me, their dinner, and the boats they were building out of cardboard and duct tape (long story, some other time); then a 109 mile drive back home so I could honor a breakfast commitment the next morning. I wanted to stay and enjoy the conference, it had all kinds of great scientific things going on! Maybe next time.

Thankfully, I now have the remainder of 2013 to focus on work here at GriffinEd World Headquarters in La Canada, California. I still have a few shows of course, plus the weekly artist-in residence thing (more on that next week) and my various math projects, but I mostly get to focus on nailing down the new album, now titled Over The Edge, due out in early 2014, plus do some serious writing for the next one after that.

So: we’ve got eighteen songs in the pipeline for Over The Edge, which means I’ve done the initial recordings (me on guitar and vocal, plus a few tracks on ukulele) with my brilliant producer Jeff Abercrombie; now I get a break while he brings in some studio musicians to make the songs sound, you know, more musical. Eighteen songs is more than we really need, which is a good thing because it means we can “weed out” one or two songs at the end of production if we’re not satisfied with them; a little extra margin for error can go a long way.

While Jeff is cranking the musical gears, I’m turning my attention to the art work for the CD. Six months ago I sent my artist friend Dan Brooks the lyrics to a cosmology song I wrote called “Shoulders Of Giants,” which traces the history of how we figured out where the sun goes and stuff like that. I also sent him a copy of a very old woodcut (old enough that copyright is not an issue, which is important!) for inspiration. Here’s the woodcut:


Then Dan did the same thing he did for the previous two albums: he played around with ideas for several months (I have learned to not rush genius) and consulted with me a few times. When he was satisfied, he started to paint. Last night, he sent me this:


Oh my. I am horrified, but I love it. I love the way Dan has kept the whole medieval aesthetic: the guitar is a little too small, the limbs are just a little off. It’s all slightly wrong in exactly the right way. And of course, there I am with my eyes up at the stars and my feet stepping over the edge. Sort of a metaphor for my life, I suppose.

We’ll digitally add the text later. Now, the back of the CD. This has different requirements because we want it to look interesting, but it has to allow for a lot of text: the playlist of all the songs, the credits for all the people who make the music happen, and so on. I found another old picture of the cosmos that isn’t too busy:


I’m going to putter with this and see if maybe we can integrate the text we need into the image, replacing the text that’s already there. If I wanted to earn extra geek points I suppose I could do the whole thing in Latin, but that might be too much of a good thing: we want to surprise and amuse the audience, not annoy and confuse them.

I have other ideas about the inside cover and inside tray; I’ll share those with you another day.

Oh, one more thing. I don’t say this often enough but I am extremely blessed by the people in my life who make my work possible, including you (yes, you!) you use this site. Without an audience of teachers, students, parents, and anyone else who likes good geeky music my music would be pointless. So: thank you for making it all work. I am having way too much fun doing this and I hope it has brought you some enjoyment too; I can’t wait to share the next few years with you.