November 2011


Fellow Creatures.

Life As It Happens.

As an independent writer with limited financial resources and a desire to take advantage of electronic publishing, a major challenge is coming up with designs for book covers. I’ve managed OK, at least in my opinion, with some short story collections I’ve put on Kindle and Smashwords. But when it came time to publish my rock bio, A Brief History Of Pink Floyd, I was unsure how to do it without running foul of copyright laws.

I didn’t want to risk any conflicts with photographers or music business entities that might result from simply using images from the Internet or from media kits — although, come to think about it, isn’t publicity what those media kits are for anyway?

In any case, I wanted to do something a bit more challenging. The visions in my head were of iconic images from Pink Floyd’s history. The cows on the Atom Heart Mother album cover. The moon, of course, from the title track of The Dark Side Of The Moon. The strange dreamscape from the soundtrack album More, with the windmill as the one defining object.

As a graphic designer, I knew I couldn’t match Storm Thorgerson who, with his company Hipgnosis, did so much to imprint the visual portrayal of Pink Floyd on the popular consciousness. But perhaps I could put together a cover that would strike a chord with fans of the group.

My initial inspiration was a combination of cows, as referenced above, and the sleeve design for the album Ummagumma. Instead of portraying the four group members, as on the original Ummagumma  sleeve, I’d use cows. As on the original, I’d re-arrange the cows for each of four pictures. So, just as guitarist Dave Gilmour moved from the front of the group in the main photo so that he was progressively further back in the other three, so the cows would move from front to back too.

For good measure I threw in an LP sleeve, substituting Syd Barrett for the Gigi soundtrack on the Ummagumma cover, and a glass (actually plastic) bottle as in the original.

In homage to the More cover, I set the cows against a background of rather parched landscape complete with a windmill, and then solarized everything.

The overall concept is undoubtedly better than the execution. As I said, I’m no Thorgerson. But hopefully my book cover will resonate with the group’s fans. And if all it does is generate puzzlement, well it won’t be the first time Floyd-related material has done that.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005TPFLLE

Arizona-born singer-songwriter Marty Robbins is the subject of “Some Memories – Growing Up With Marty Robbins”, a childhood memoir related in part by his sister Mamie.

A new version of the book, available through Kindle and other digital platforms, adds family photos collected by Marty’s twin sister, the late Mamie Minotto, to the text of the original print edition available from Booklocker.com

Photos of Marty and Mamie, their parents and also of Marty during his service in the Navy accompany Mamie’s reminiscences about the childhood they shared in and around Phoenix, Arizona, in the 1920s and ’30s.

The book takes its title from “Some Memories Just Won’t Die,” one of Marty’s final recordings before his death from heart failure on December 8th, 1982.

Descended from Texas and Arizona cowboys and Utah Mormons on their mother’s side and Polish stock from Michigan on their father’s, Marty and Mamie spent their early years in poverty and domestic strife. What they lacked in material wealth though, they found in the riches of their desert playground.

In anecdotes about the family’s frequent moves and squalid living conditions, Mamie recalls the feisty brother who always seemed able to laugh off setbacks. There are also glimpses of Marty’s developing interest in music, from playing harmonica with his father and uncle to his first gigs as a shy sideman in a local band.

Marty moved to Nashville in the early 1950s, but he never lost his attachment to the Southwest. Stories he heard and the wild open terrain he loved inspired him to write his international hit “El Paso” and other gunfighter ballads.

In 1960, “El Paso” won him the first of two Grammy awards in the Country and Western category. The second followed 10 years later for his composition, “My Woman, My Woman, My Wife.” Among his other 18 Country chart toppers between 1956 and 1976 were “A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation),” “Devil Woman” and “El Paso City.”

In addition to his music, Marty acted in television Westerns and even wrote a short Western novel, entitled “The Small Man.” His great passion outside music and family was stock car racing, and he was nationally rated as a NASCAR driver.

Sadly, Mamie passed away before this account was completed, but the adventures she shared with her brother live on in these vivid and heartfelt descriptions. Much of the material was adapted by journalist Andrew Means from interviews given to him by Mamie. Additional material came from friends and family who knew Marty in his formative years living in Glendale, serving in the Navy during World War Two, and subsequently making a name for himself on the Phoenix entertainment scene.

The 136-page print version of the book (without photos) can be ordered from Booklocker.com, priced at $12.95.

CAFE SOCIETY

Course I remember him now.

Now you mention the camouflage gear. Hard to miss, weren’t he.

We’ve had our share of weirdoes in ’er, but he took the prize, he did.

How did it start? Give me a second. Let me think.

http://www.thestonehobo.com/?page_id=1340