William Eggleston’s photograph’s have the strange, meandering feel of a good American ballad. The long loneliness of this big place, a warm, friendly strum, the weird ability to capture the practice of everyday life in these states, the broken-hearted hope of relentless American dreamers. It’s no surprise then that musicians (not all American, not all balladeers, but always not far from either in one way or another) have such a penchant for putting Eggleston images on their album covers.
The Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (which always seems to be this side of awesome from Words Without Pictures to The New Topographics) has put up on the LACMA website a William Eggleston playlist to accompany its exhibtion of William Eggleston: Democratic Camera—Photographs and Video, 1961–2008, perhaps to listen to while trawling through bars and bedrooms, fields and faces of America. The choices correspond to the albums that have the photo-covers, and thus there are a few misses on the list for me, but as a whole it’s a decent set of songs to match against Eggleston’s Democratic Camera. I don’t know if it’s "On the Road" music or "Green, Green Grass of Home" tunes, but perhaps like a legion of our fellow citizens, its both, and the road is home. I’ll leave you with a few words from the Silver Jews’ “Random Rules” (the band is on the list, the song isn't, though it feels like it ought to be):
I know you like to line dance, everything so democratic and cool,
But baby there's no guidance when random rules.
- Andrew Berardini