Years ago I was a driver in a carpool that included a pick-up/drop-off at a home on Lucerne, just north of 3rd Street. One of the highlights of this leg of the journey was the fact that the house that was the backdrop in the iconic Jackson Brown album cover ‘Late for the Sky’ was a few houses away from my carpool destination. This Jackson Browne album was a favorite, full of tunes that I can still remember the words to years and years later (Late for the Sky, Fountain of Sorrow, Walking Slow).
At some point during this carpool stint (mid ’00s), the home underwent a total renovation. The facade of the house was transformed and ended up looking quite different from the way it looked on the album cover, which was shot in the early 1970s. As the renovation progressed and I could see this piece of rock history being changed forever, I was unable to get my young passengers to share my pain.
Now, The Guardian (the British daily newspaper/website) is featuring a story about classic album covers and how Google Maps can be used to go back and document the locations used as backdrops in famous album shots. Of the twelve covers re-visited by The Guardian (including the iconic Abbey Road cover; and classic covers from Oasis, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd) – they chose Browne’s ‘Late for the Sky’, giving a shout out to Hancock Park in the process.
Most stories about this photo shoot refer to the backdrop location as Hancock Park, even though the home is in Windsor Square. Wikipedia refers to the setting as a home in South Pasadena, although every other reflection we have read notes the home as being in Hancock Park. Browne spent a lot of time in and around the neighborhood…recording nearby and as a regular at Lucy’s El Adobe on Melrose.
A blogger at the site ‘Never Mind the Bus Pass’ shares a little background on the album cover:
Late for the Sky is the third album by American singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, released in 1974 Browne, as usual, conceptualized the album cover. Fancying art that would evoke the Belgian painter Rene Magritte’s 1954 painting ‘L’Empire des Lumieres’ (‘Empire of Light’), he dropped in one day on Bob Seidemann, the photographer hired for the project, and tacked a poster of one of the Magritte paintings on his studio wall. “He asked me to duplicate it with a Chevy [in front of a house],” says Seidemann. “It was Jackson Browne’s Los Angelization of Magritte”
Check out more of what Browne was thinking and a picture of ‘L’Empire des Lumieres’ at ‘Never Mind the Bus Pass’.
If you look at the comparison of the two pics above, you can almost see the original 1920s home. The distance between the lamp post and the tree holds up. The roof lines on the subject house and the house to the north are right on. The distance between the front yard and the home appears to be distorted in the Google Maps photo.
Late for the Sky by Jackson Browne…be sure to go find your copy – cover and all – at Amoeba.