Music is inseparable from art. I often find that I am far more inspired by music I listen to than anything else. Music inspires me to sit down and work and keeps me going while I am making art, sometimes for many, many hours.
Conversely, we know many of our favorite pieces of music through the artwork associated with them. A prism with a rainbow is not just a symbol representing Dark Side of the Moon, but rather, our understanding of the record is negotiated by Storm Thorgerson’s masterfully simple design. It creates an expectation for us and helps clarify the artist’s intentions.
Album artwork allows us to foster a physical connection with sounds that we love. We wear our favorite albums on our shirts, stick them to our computers and color our social media pages with them.
I often feel as though I am living through an album that I love. Shuggie Otis’s landmark Inspiration Information is a heartbreakingly honest story of failure, hope and change. “Sparkle City” is Otis’s story of leaving his home for a place he has always dreamed of, and arriving in the evening to find that the city lights make the city shine like a jewel. Arriving in Boulder after one of the most difficult years of my life, standing at Chautauqua as the sun set this summer, watching lights shine one by one in the Boulder Valley, I will never forget how it felt to hear Otis’s words:
“Arriving at my destination,
Never know where is all frustrations,
Cool as I want, in a easy chair,
Happy just to know, that I’m gonna be there…”
I’m sure all of us have had a similar experience where it felt as though an artist articulated what we felt. Here are a few records that have deeply impacted me at different points in my life.
Jacob Newman is a sophomore from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.