Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.
Showing posts with label Neil Young. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Neil Young. Show all posts

Thursday, August 28, 2014



Once upon a time it was apparently quite easy to design album covers.  You got a photograph of the artist – portrait studio, recording studio, maybe playing live - you did some more or less fancy lettering and there was your album cover.

And then someone came up with the idea – how about we show the artist WALKING?
There are a couple of advantages here obviously, it gives the subjects something to do, and perhaps even more important, it’s a way of asserting they’re men (and in a few cases women) of the people who haven’t lost touch with the street.

When it comes to “most famous walking album cover” it’s probably a toss up between Abbey Road and The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.  I think Dylan just about edges it because even though we know it’s a setup, he actually does look like he’s walking somewhere, whereas the Beatles look like they’re only walking across the street for the sake of the photoshoot.

The Beatles actually looked a bit more natural on this one:

Of course when it comes to Oasis, it’s hard to know whether we’re dealing with homage or barefaced borrowing.  This picture is taken in Berwick Street, one of my “beating the bounds” streets when I go back to London.  Since there’s some motion blur on the cover you might be tempted to think the two men are the Gallagher brothers, but no, don’t be na├»ve.  The two men are Sean Rowley, who’s a DJ walking towards the camera, and the album sleeve designer Brian Cannon who’s walking away.  Apparently Owen Morris, the album producer, is lurking in the background.

I also suspect that photograph, borrows from this Duane Michael series, titled "Chance Meeting," but you know, in for a penny in for a pound, it’s all appropriation, innit?

No borrowings or homage here on this Dr Alimantado album cover, largely I think because walking down the middle of the street, wearing shorts with the fly open isn’t a look that really existed before or after, but in this case I’m glad it does.

Walking in the street too tame for you?  Then try the railroad tracks:

Earth too tame for you?  Try outer space.

And you can just about imagine what went on in the mind of Randy Jack Wiggins and his photographer when they made this cover.

“Sure,” said Jack, “I know I’m a boring old coot with a salt and pepper beard and dubious taste in shirts, but if we have a couple of good looking girls, and you know, they needn’t be professional models or anything, well if they walked with me holding hands, then that’d be a bitching album cover, wouldn’t it?  Wouldn’t it?”

 Maybe sometimes it’s better just to walk away from the camera.  If it’s good enough for Johnny Cash and Eminem, it’s probably good enough for you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


We know that Oliver Sacks is not a man who does things by half.  Some people might trip and fall while out walking, and end up with a twisted ankle. When Dr. Sacks falls, the results are dramatically catastrophic.  In his book A Leg to Stand On he meets a bull while walking on a mountain path in Norway.  He turns and runs, falls down the mountain, tears off his quadriceps, crawls for an hour or three, is found by reindeer hunters, stretchered to safety, goes back to England, has a big operation, and tumbles into an existential tail spin.  This of course is good for the writing even as it may be bad for the body and mind.

And things haven’t got any better with age for Sacks.  In his new book Hallucinations he’s walking across his office, trips over a box of books, falls headlong and breaks his hip.  Thus: “I thought I have plenty of time to put out my hand to break the fall, but then – suddenly, I was on the floor, and as I hit, I felt the crunch in my hip.  With near-hallucinatory vividness in the next few weeks, I reexperienced my fall; it replayed itself in my mind and body.” Well, of course it did, Dr. Sacks.

 I’ve also been reading Neil Young’s Waging Heavy Peace, which is sometimes kind of annoying but sometimes very readable and once in a while very moving.  And walking is occasionally involved.  Neil’s father, who was a journalist and a pretty good dad by all accounts, eventually suffered from Alzheimer’s, becoming in Young’s words “there and not there” and after a while he was “just gone.”
Young writes, “Last time we were at the farm we went for one of our many walks.  We always took long walks in the forest together when I visited him, at the farm or anywhere … On that day when we were back on the farm walking, Daddy got lost.  That really was the last walk we went on together.”

I haven't been able to find an image of Oliver Sacks walking, but above is one of him at least standing up. It seems, incidentally, that Oliver Sacks gets lost all the time.  In an interview with the New York Times he said, “A friend gave me a hat with a built-in compass, since I have no sense of direction. It beeps when you face north and the intensity of the beeps shows how close you are. I like to think it’s improving my awareness but truthfully, I don’t think I’m getting any better. And I get a little embarrassed wearing a hat that beeps.”

It was actually easier than I thought to find an image of Neil Young walking.  Here he is by the Berlin wall in the early 80s.  BUt perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.  After all, Neil Young did write a song titled Walk On.  The chorus runs as follows:
     Walk on, walk on,
     Walk on, walk on.