Sunday, October 21, 2007

If a picture sings a thousand words . . .

Over 20 pages in in the November issue of Vanity Fair, Annie Leibowitz offers a photo essay entitled "All Over This Land" which takes a look at folk musicians.

The essay opens, as it should, with Joan Baez who was the face of the folk music in the sixties. As an added bonus, the brief description makes no effort, pay attention male reporters, to reduce her to "girlfriend of." The Guthries and Peter, Paul & Mary follow but the next two that caught our interest after Baez were Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins because they offer an interesting contrast. One is an artist involved in the world (Mitchell), the other, the description offers, "can command a swanky cabaret room" -- and that about says it all. (Well, almost. Don McLean is apparently no longer in vogue since Collins championed him more than any listed and he's AWOL from the description.)

The essay closes with Buffy Sainte-Marie and Richie Havens ("The Trailblazers") holding hands and it's among the most powerful and detailed of the photos in the essay.

You can also check out the essay to note who is still estranged from his first family. Hint, both children posed with their mother for a Van Fair photo essay a few years back. As their father was absent from their lives, they are now absent from his. Dad loves something, but it's not his adult children.

Leibowitz, of course, made her name at Rolling Stone. She went on to greater fame (some say infamy) at Vanity Fair. Checking out the essay will remind you of how talented she was and still is. It's among the finest work she's done and will remind everyone of how, like Diane Arbus, she managed to break into the boys club that is world famous photographers in the first place.

The only thing missing from the essay is a wrap around quote. Via Janis Ian, we'll provide it:

Folk is the new black

Cheaper than crack and you don't have to cook

Download it and see

The first time is free, then you'll be hooked

You can be politically correct

You don't even have to risk your neck

Better than crack -- folk is the new black.

-- "Folk Is The New Black," written by Janis Ian, title track to her 2005 CD.

The issue is on sale now. More information at Vanity Fair's website which also has posted video of the photo shoots.
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