Monday, May 11, 2009

Not Everything Looks Good in Black And White

Mention the years 1963 or 1964 and chances are, they bring black-and-white images to your mind.

Funny how that colors our perception of the music of the time. The Beatles' songs from the period, or the early Kinks or the early Stones - they are all "black-and-white" songs. Whatever that means. The music sounds older and even quaint. How different the music from 1966 or 1967 sounds because of its association with the images from the period. (A bit ironical, considering that one of the earliest acid-rock albums from that era does not have any color on its cover.)

So when you see a picture like this, it comes as a surprise. (It's hard to believe that that fresh-faced kid in the picture would go on to write "My back pages" a year later.)

Look around for more lovely pictures of some famous (and some not-so-famous) "folkies". Then there are pictures of blues legends like Son House. We are accustomed to seeing fuzzy, grainy, b-and-w pictures of the "original" Delta bluesmen. But color photographs make them look so much more real and immediate.



??! said...

"The music sounds older and quaint"
So does this suggest that B&W photos make you/us classify the music as old/unsophisticated/not-fully-explored?

I'd think the opposite. That B&W photos make them more memorable. Give them a feeling of having been around for longer. I'd go on to say that the lack of colour itself subconsciously makes us classify them as 'classics', possibly by associating that factor with longevity.

km said...

I totally agree with your last point, but I said "older and quaint", not "unsophisticated".

The early Beatles, for example, may sound ragged and somewhat cruder but they actually wrote some very complex harmonies on the albums in the '63-'64 period.