‘Pop Pilgrims’ land at ‘Wilco Towers’
Loop North News

Marina City in the Spotlight

Nonesuch Records

(Above) Besides the title and the name of the band, Marina City is the only thing that appears on the cover of the 2002 Wilco album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

28-Jul-11 – It has been almost ten years since Chicago’s Wilco released its fourth and best-selling album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The album cover is based on a photograph of Marina City, forever giving Marina City pop culture landmark status, so much that fans of the alternative rock band often call the place “Wilco Towers.”

A video on the website A.V. Club, part of a series called “Pop Pilgrims,” features an interview with the designer of the album cover, Lawrence Azerrad. He and band leader Jeff Tweedy sifted through hundreds of photographs. Interviewed by Chicago comedian Dan Telfer, Azerrad says the final design, ranked by Paste Magazine as one of the decade’s 25 best album covers, was one of “three to four hundred” ideas.

“We tried a collage of many different buildings together but we realized as we stepped back from it, that it was too busy,” Azerrad says in the video, directed by James Fleishel and produced in Chicago. “And as we took a step further and further away, every step we made, it was clear that the most simple solution was the strongest solution.”

Picture Show LLC

(Above) Graphic designer Lawrence Azerrad (left) is interviewed by Dan Telfer (right) in a video on the website A.V. Club.

Marina City was the most appropriate building for the album cover, according to Azerrad, who has been working with Wilco for 14 years, “because it was very much a part of Chicago yet so very unique, which is a lot like Wilco.”

Released on April 23, 2002, the album has sold more than 500,000 copies in the U.S.

And who took the famous photo? Los Angeles photographer Sam Jones, who filmed the 2002 documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart about the making of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

(Below) Marina City had a smaller role in an early concept for the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album cover. (Click on image to view larger version.)


 Web site: Chicago: The Wilco towers

• Contact Steven Dahlman at sdahlman@loopnorth.com


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