The Great Big One: Liner Notes

I’ve always loved liner notes. You know — the lyrics, photos, and messages included in the packaging for CDs, tapes, and records. Back in the day, part of questing for an album was seeing what the cover art looked like under the shrink wrap, how it would unfold in a paper accordion for cassette tapes; CDs had cool little booklets. I remember going through my dad’s record collection and how enormous the notes seemed – giant treasure maps, canvasses for lost art, tour photos, abstractions. I remember Thick As a Brick. The Wall. August and Everything After – a cover with faded cursive lyrics to a song that didn’t even make it onto the album. What a mystery! I loved listening straight through for the first time, flipping pages. You could feel the whole mythos of the work swirling, sinking in.

After being steeped in music for The Great Big One, I thought: What about liner notes for a book? Sure, the book already exists in print — but to me, liner notes were always about the space just outside the circumference of the main artistic product. Everything that couldn’t quite make it into the book or onto the album. Pictures, inspiration, research, anecdotes, drawings, mysteries. Since books are something we can already hold and turn the pages for, maybe liner notes could be digital.

I’m going to give it a try. I’m even going to give it a hashtag, so if this happens to be a social media project I actually manage to follow through with, one day I can type #thegreatbigone #linernotes and have a whole collection of videos, photos, deleted scenes and sections, everything surrounding a book that was – for several years – roughly the size of my life.

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