For My Multi Media Publishing and Design class, I was asked to design a vinyl album cover for my favorite band.
Thus, I spent several hours with The Civil Wars this past week, learning and studying the ins and outs behind the band’s music.
With every album cover, The Civil Wars identify who they are as a band. The band’s name represents the innate tension and small battles that we have within ourselves and our own interpersonal relationships.
Every album cover is in black and white. I also watched several music videos and noticed how most of their music videos are also produced in black and white. Is this done on purpose? Absolutely. First, the band hopes to create music that is timeless and mysterious, music that could have been written 50 years a go or is a musical tour de force from 50 years in the future.
John-Paul, co-writer and singer of the grammy award winning folk-duo addressed the mystery in their songwriting when he stated that “we write that way on purpose…we try to leave the edges blurry and allow the listeners to put themselves in the position of the singer.” This was John-Paul’s response to the meaning of the lyrics from one of their top charts, To Whom it May Concern.
To Whom it May Concern is the inspiration behind my album cover design. It represents the ache for human companionship, yet the pain and hurt that comes with those relationships. We build walls, we walk the same paths, and sometimes we get lost in the past as we try to convey and understand the emotional tensions we undergo.
Joy Williams, the other voice behind the folk band, states that their music has heavy themes, but real themes. She echoes the words of Plato, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Since this album design represents The Civil Wars Greatest Hits, I spent a good amount of time listening to their top charts and pulling out lyrics to form a letter that is addressed to “dear whoever you might be” which comes from their song To Whom it May Concern. The letter that I created from their song lyrics represents the overall message from The Civil Wars: we all are fighting a hard battle within ourselves.
The lyrics are in a cursive font to represent the personal touch and humanity of the writer while The Civil Wars Greatest Hits Collection is in a bold typography.
“Dear whoever you might be, there’s a note underneath your front door that I wrote 20 years a go. I had me a girl taught me those things a young man should know. I’m coming home real soon, please leave a light on for me. let me in the walls you’ve built around. we can light a match and burn them down. Won’t do me no good washing in the river, can’t no preacher man save my soul. i know everything you don’t want me to. you think your dreams are the same as mine. i don’t love you, but I always will. Try to convince me that I’m not drowning. take me from this valley to the mountaintop. I can’t help falling out of love with you. why am I holding my breath. you’ll be the only one for me my dear, my darling. i just want to hold your hand, hang on every word you said. miles and miles in my bare feet, still can’t lay me down to sleep. you’ve been lonely too long. I will pray, pray, pray until I see your smiling face. I don’t love you, but I always will.”
There is an inevitable reality that we all fight our own Civil Wars.