Sunday, February 3, 2008

Millworker, by James Taylor

I used to print ephemera a lot more than I do now. When the press was inside my home, it was just a lot easier to do little printing projects like small broadsides or folders. But with the press out in my unheated detached garage, it's more laborious to schlep type and stuff back and forth from the basement - where my composing room is located - to the garage. I'm also limited to printing during the warm months.
So anyway, I've always been partial to song lyrics by some of the more significant singer-songwriters, like Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and James Taylor. I particularly like James Taylor's song Millworker, which he wrote for a Broadway show that closed after a couple of weeks. He recorded it on his album Flag in the late 1970s.
I decided to print the lyrics. Now, lots of people issue Christmas greetings, New Year's greetings, Valentine greetings - I wanted to break the mold a little bit, so I issued my printing of Millworker as a Labor Day greeting. After all, the song is about a woman spending her life working in a mill, so the song seemed appropriate to issue to commemorate Labor Day. If you click on the picture, I think that you will get another web page with an enlarged picture that is large enough to be read.
As usual, I printed it without permission. I printed it on a single sheet of Fabriano Ingres Light 12 by 8 inches, that I folded into fourths to 6 by 4 inches. I set the type in Kennerley, and I printed a total of 60 copies.
One of the things that I wanted to do was to create some symbolic image from typographic ornaments. So I put together a grouping of ornaments for the title page that was supposed to represent a spool of yarn like you would see in a mill where fabric was woven. Apparently it didn't convey what I intended, as a number of people told me what a nice Christmas tree I had made (!). Oh, well.
I issued the piece in St. Louis on Labor Day, 1980. Some years later, after I had moved to Louisville, I had occasion to attend a concert by James Taylor at the Louisville Gardens (what had formerly been called the Louisville Armory, and where I had attended a James Brown concert back in 1966 - but that's another story). My wife had an acquaintance who was friends with one of James Taylor's backup singers, and she agreed to be a go-between to try to get him to autograph a copy of the piece, even though I'd printed it without his permission. So I gave the woman two copies of the piece, one for me and one for Taylor, and she passed it along to the backup singer who successfully obtained James Taylor's autograph on it, as you can see in the picture.

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