Monday, June 15, 2009

Robert Whitaker on the Butcher Album Cover - Part 2

Q: So, they were happy to pose like that? When you look at the picture, you know, there's sort of false teeth on one of their knees and...

WHITAKER: John played with all sorts of bits and pieces. Before we actually did the picture, I did a few more sort of outtake pictures which were of them actually playing with just a box full of dolls, which they pulled out and stuck all over themselves. And, I mean, that was just quite a funny sequence of pictures.

Really and truly, it's not important for the public to read in some symbolic meaning, because they're playing with a bunch of dolls. In all actual fact, if you were to look at Meret Oppenheim's Lunch in Fur, which is a tea cup and saucer and a spoon made out of fur, it's an apparent switch-around of how you think, you know, can you actually imagine drinking out of a fur tea cup? Well, putting dolls or meat or false teeth or eyes with the Beatles essentially is part of that breakdown of what one regards as normality. It's also, you know, it's a satired pun as well on... René Magritte said "This is not a pipe." He'd made a painting of a pipe, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe." And it's clearly obvious it's not a pipe, it's a painting on a wall, but it's a painting of a pipe, so he just underlines it and says "This is not a pipe," which is an absolutely true statement. And it's as much a true statement as, you know, this entitled, not by me, "butcher's sleeve." It causes an enormous amount of controversy, whereas if people would put their tongue in their cheek and laugh a bit about it, it could have treated with a certain amount of less ridiculous hypocrisy.

I think it was basically Capitol, who I think produced it, I honestly haven't got an enormous amount of history about this, apparently this is an enormous amount of documented history. Things that I've never heard of, but there was a fairly large outcry from various radio disc jockeys and things like that who were saying, "Well, we're almost retching with the disgust of this picture." Which was a shame, because if it had been taken in a more lighthearted vein, it might have got across.

1 comment:

David Stock said...

Certainly they aren't butchers of music. Interesting picture though!