I'm a member of a Patti Smith site, and she wrote lately about how the cover to Horses had been chosen in some poll or another as the best album cover ever. I'm glad to say she has the smarts and perspective to realize that 'best' is relative, but still she was gratified to see that the cover was still well-regarded. She quoted from her memoir, 'Just Kids,' about the session with her friend the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, and the resulting photograph. I commented:
"On a Saturday in 1975, I left work in the early afternoon. We worked a half day on Saturdays. I drove to Caldor, a department store, part of a chain that no longer exists. They had a guy running the record department who really knew what he was doing. Rare for a chain store. Propped prominently on a shelf was a copy of Horses. I'd read a story in Rolling Stone about Patti that caught my interest. (Remember when RS was of use?) 46 years later I still so clearly remember seeing that cover for the first time. I had to have it. Bought it, drove home, went upstairs to my bedroom, and heard music unlike any I'd ever heard."
This afternoon I listened to the Ry Cooder album Chicken Skin Music while driving around. I remembered how I had read good things (probably in RS), about Cooder back in the seventies, and how I chose that album because I was amused by the cover. I was always the skinniest kid in a room, and my choice may have had something to do with that. I got to thinking about how in 2021, a kid who's curious about Ry Cooder will go on some site and play a bunch of songs that had been selected by someone (or some algorithm) for some reason or another. Just a bunch of songs, and maybe great songs, instead of a group of performances carefully chosen and sequenced by Cooder and his producers. Man, I'm glad I came up at a time when the album was important, and when the 12 x 12 LP cover could be a statement.