Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sound by Its Cover: John Ashfield's Love Is Blue

By Nate Seltenrich
Wed, Apr 11, 2007 at 5:05 PM

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This is, without a doubt, one of the goofiest album covers ever. It's a joy to behold, really, because it's so damn genuine. I'm sure John Ashfield is a stand-up guy -- totally nice, committed to his craft, a talented singer even. And that's nice to see. But his pose on the cover of Love Is Blue is a character unto itself, a look that supersedes the man. You could spend the next five years of your life with John Ashfield and never shake this image from your head. That's how profoundly goofy it is. Something about a big guy like John dressed up in khakis and a baby-blue ribbed sweater while mimicking the playful pose of a schoolgirl is irresistible. He leans back, hands planted at his sides on an aluminum bench, mouth partially agape as if to say, Hey, I'm just having some fun here, legs extended out in front, feet crossed so that we can see the treads of his boots. Can't you just picture a ten-year-old girl dressed in her Sunday best making the same pose?

In addition to being frontman for SF-based power-pop group the Bobbleheads, Ashfield teaches music to elementary schoolkids, which explains why he's seated in a schoolyard, perhaps in front of his classroom. Has he adopted the innocent look of the children he teaches, or is that just a coincidence?

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Maybe this will shed some light: Love Is Blue is a remake of a 1968 Johnny Mathis record of the same name. Ashfield borrowed that title as well as all of the song names in the original sequence -- including standards like "Walk on By" and "Moon River" -- but wrote all new music. The cover image, in fact, is also inspired by the original art, in which Mathis perches likewise on a fence wearing an almost identical outfit. So the look is the same, yet the substance is new. Perhaps this explains why a grown man would pose like a little girl. Totally postmodern, man. Or maybe just goofy as hell.

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