If I were to record an album, I’d want the cover to look like “The World of Nat King Cole”: three of me in front of a bare concrete parking garage wall, with “THIS WAY OUT” painted behind me as a sign. It instantly says a lot, some of it contradictory: it’s fun, it’s wistful, it’s regretful, it’s sorrowful, it’s a touch desperate or angry. I like it.
Plus he’s dressed sharp. Skinny tie, shiny shined shoes, and dark single-breasted suits with skinny lapels — you can’t go wrong. (Actually, that’s a lot like how I look some of the time.) His posture and body language say a lot too. In the farthest right Nat, he looks like he’s about to ask a bit brusquely if you’re coming with him — like it’s 2:30 am and the night’s just getting started. About to walk out from under the glow of the single sodium lamp into a dark night full of stars and streetlights, glowing cigarette ends and deep shadows. A regular Twilight Singer. He looks like he’s waiting for someone, but she didn’t come. What happens to that great coat he has slung over his arm? The hat is also a nice touch — which also disappears.
Ordinarily I’m not crazy about sans-serif fonts, but here the typeface works, because it looks vintage — Rat-Pack-ish, or Ocean’s 11 (the first one, the original, the good one, with Sinatra — not the remakes, which were fine but not Sinatra & Dean Martin. I mean, c’mon…) I also like the colors that subtly separate the title — it’s a nice touch. It’s not overpowering, but it still catches your attention. It reminds you of a time when everybody smoked like chimneys and nobody noticed (or cared, if they did connect the dots) that lung cancer was carrying most of them off, and when the drinks were real men’s cocktails, never watered down — martinis and manhattans, or just whisky, instead of peppermint pattys and Smirnoff alcoh-pop. (Nowadays it’s hard to get a decent drink, and even harder to find someone decent to drink it with. I have to read private-eye novels to imagine the kind of company I’d like to have when I imbibe. Have I mentioned what a sorry-ass, enervated, effeminatized, corporate plastic world full of fakes and simulacra we live in?)
Sometimes musings like this post tell you more about the author than what the author’s (ostensibly) writing about. That may or may not be the case here…I guess you’d have to know me to find out. (And who does, these days?) I’ll say this much: the guy in that picture doesn’t look like he has a bad back, a four-day headache (from the weather, for cryin’ out sakes, not the hooch — what a pansy reason), a bunch of obligations he can’t seem to find time to get to, any paralysis, neurosis, or hangups from same, or any problems finding solace and companionship with the fairer sex. He looks like he knows where he’s going, at least to start, and if that doesn’t work out he’s got a backup plan, and if that goes to hell he knows he can freelance — calm, confident, and cool as a freshly shaken martini frosting your glass. Not without resources, and damn hard to surprise. That alone might make a guy want to be him, as they say around here. Maybe if I ever record that covers album I’ll use this, or maybe I’ll just concentrate on being the kind of man I want to be — and to blue blazes with what anybody else thinks.