MC Taylor was watching footage of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by Donald Trump’s MAGA faction when he saw a rioter displaying the upside-down American flag, a recognized but rarely used symbol of distress. The North Carolina singer-songwriter’s stomach dropped. Taylor and his band, Hiss Golden Messenger, were just weeks away from releasing their new album, Quietly blowing, in March — with an image of an inverted American flag on the cover.
Despite 2,000 copies of Quietly blowing already pressed to vinyl prior to release, Taylor called his management team and label, Merge Records, to pull them. As Taylor saw, a change had to be made.
It was the original cover. Sidelined after we all witnessed a large white majority, Republican men indulged in mayhem in the US Capitol a year ago today. Thousands of them now sit on shelves in a warehouse. @dnorsen_design @mergerecords @brianlschwartz pic.twitter.com/olkmVdM4s3
— Hiss Golden Messenger (@hissgldnmssr) January 6, 2022
“In an instant, the cover felt utterly inadequate and a little childish, even,” Taylor recounts. rolling stone. “It was hard for me to imagine anyone having the bandwidth to pick up and listen to something covered in an American flag, because I certainly didn’t… The flag became insensitive, overly privileged and dilettante .
Taylor’s decision was not without ramifications. It required both new art – a photo of him staring thoughtfully in a field was chosen as the cover – and a new release date of June 25, four months later than planned.
Now that a year has passed since the uprising, Hiss Golden Messenger releases a limited run of the previously pressed version Quietly blowing and its quirky cover as a way to support democracy. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from album sales will be donated to Democracy now!non-profit news organization.
The initial idea behind the cover – created by graphic designer Darryl Norsen – came amid the turmoil and tragedy of the first year of the Covid pandemic. The art, says Taylor, “was a commentary on the state of our nation…[It] was meant to be subtle: I knew a lot of people weren’t going to count the 52 stars – one for Puerto Rico and one for Washington, DC.It was also another nod to Sly Stone There’s a riot going onthe 1971 album Hiss Golden Messenger refers to in the title track.
Taylor says he now sees the value in the original artwork. After discussing the background behind the cover in a Tweeter earlier this month – on January 6 – he received overwhelming comments from fans who wanted to see him out. “It kind of changed the story that I have in my head,” he says.
“For as many problems as America has, many of which have their roots so deep in our cultures and institutions, I love this place,” Taylor says. “I like it because of the people. It’s a place worth looking at under a microscope because of that.
The previously sidelined Quietly blowing is available now. Hiss Golden Messenger kicks off a US tour this week in Greenville, South Carolina, with stops in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles and Nashville.