What's Wrong With This Picture

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Modern Folk Musician album cover

Original version

Did you catch it? For those of you who don't have that CD, the back cover of the album is the exact same shot, except that I'm turned around facing with my back to the camera, and the album on the stump is also flipped around to show the back cover. If you look very closely on the full-screen image of the current album cover, you'll see that there is no album on the stump in the image of the album on the stump. (...twig on the branch, and the branch on the limb, and the limb on the tree, and the album on the stump, and...)

So how did I get a picture of the album cover on the album cover? And no, it was not Photoshopped in.

The Modern Folk Musician was my very first CD, released in, as I recall, 1993. Some years later, I had almost sold out of the first printing of 1,000 copies. The album had "gone balsa". So I started to get all the paperwork together to print out a second run, and discovered I could not find the cover photos. The layout and artwork was still there, but no photos. This, of course was back before digital photography was prevalent, and all the images were saved in the form of photo negatives. I realized that I had sent the negatives themselves to the company that duplicated the album, as they had also produced and replicated the booklet. And the company, alas, had gone out of business, and was nowhere to be found.

There was nothing to be done, but to go back and retake the same photographs. So I got together with the photographer, Don Riemer, and re-photographed both the front and back covers. We went to the same location (Fort Nonsense National Park in Morristown, NJ) and duplicated as best we could the same poses. And we were fortunately just about done, when we were accosted by a park ranger, who informed us that we would need to obtain and pay for a permit to do any commercial photography in a National Park.

Just for a joke, I had put one of the last remaining CDs from the original printing on the stump for the picture to see if anyone would notice. The only person who ever brought the discrepancy to my attention in all the 20+ years that album cover has been around was an 11-year old girl. There are one or two other differences. It's a different computer, and a different tree stump. (Neither the original stump, nor the replacement were rooted in the ground, but brought there for the occasion.) I'm wearing a different shirt and pants, and probably different underwear as well. The shirt I wore for the original was my favorite shirt; it was made to order for me out of a pure woolen fabric that I bought specifically for the purpose, and was close to 20 years old at the time the photo was taken. It finally wore out before the second photo was taken, to my great sadness. And the original cover had that old "Compact Disk Digital Audio" logo in the lower right corner. (Who now remembers what "CD" stands for?) The image on the right was scanned from my last remaining copy of the CD from the first printing, which is why it has that streak of distortion across my face. It had gotten a little wet, and wrinkled at that spot.