Sometimes, you have to appreciate that the world will collide around you and present you with said collision, wrapped up in a plastic album sleeve, for sale in a local used record store. “Merge” is the weekly photo challenge from WordPress this week, and you can see all the entries here.
Apparently, Jackie Gleason was more than the buffoonish comedian from The Honeymooners; he was a bandleader in his own right (even though he was admittedly not a conductor and apparently could neither read nor write music, and “vocally conveyed” his musical compositions) and his Music for Lovers Only stayed on the Billboard charts for 153 weeks. Which is not too shabby.
BUT! He also put out the LP Lonesome Echo, a tightly orchestrated swath of strings and tinkly piano that would be most appropriately packaged in an album sporting a cover bearing ladies in puffy chiffon. However, no. Lonesome Echo‘s cover was designed by and features none other than surrealist painter Salvador Dali. (And while you’re checking out the surrealists, take a look at Man Ray. Just for fun.) For those who aren’t familiar with Dali, go check out his work here. For those who are familiar with his stuff and just want to see the hellscape that is Jackie Gleason meets Salavador Dali…behold.
So, OK, is not so bad, no? There’s a butterfly on a kebab spike and some ominous shadow looming in the lower left, probably just a guy searching for his…is that an oud, randomly dropped in the rear center of the painting? Generally speaking, it’s weird, but whatever. Until you see the back cover.
Wow. Surely the record exec who dreamed this up never imagined there could be a photo wherein both participants would have looked happier being eaten by alligators. Look at Gleason; he’s smiling, but he’s arching his body, literally trying to pull himself as far away as possible from Dali. And Dali’s not even trying, bless his pointed little moustache. Said exec probably thought, “Artistic type + artistic type = WIN!” without ever thinking…maybe this won’t work. This ain’t some kind of Mexi-Thai fusion cooking that sounds crazy but has important commonalities upon which fusion may occur. Oh, no no no no. This is, “I know, let’s mix chlorine with ammonia and take a deep breath!” (<–Kids, remember, that is an extraordinarily bad idea.) And does the spiked butterfly seem like an appropriate cover for the man who orchestrates songs that make Mantovani seem edgy? If nothing else, it should grace an exotica album, and a freakish one at that, perhaps something by Yma Sumac. Sometimes, the merger between two different creative forces doesn’t result in groundbreaking innovations. Sometimes, merging two creative forces who clearly can’t relate to one another is a train wreck towards which we, the viewing public, cannot stop looking.
Below are some of my favorite contributions to this week’s photo challenge, which is indeed quite challenging.