is the sixth studio album by the American new wave band Talking Heads
, released in 1985
The album examines themes of Americana and incorporates elements of country music, with many of the songs featuring steel guitar. It was voted as the best album of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll and is the band's biggest-selling studio album.
The cover art was created by outsider artist Howard Finster
, and was selected as album cover of the year by Rolling Stone magazine.
Howard Finster (December 2, 1916 – October 22, 2001) was an American artist and Baptist minister from Georgia. He claimed to be inspired by God to spread the gospel through the design of his swampy land into Paradise Garden, a folk art sculpture garden. His creations include outsider art, naïve art, and visionary art. Finster came to widespread notice in the 1980s with his album cover designs for R.E.M. and Talking Heads.
He retired from preaching in 1965 and focused all of his time on improving the Plant Farm Museum. In 1976, he had another vision to paint sacred art. According to Finster, "...one day I was workin' on a patch job on a bicycle, and I was rubbin' some white paint on that patch with this finger here, and I looked at the round tip o' my finger, and there was a human face on it... then a warm feelin' come over my body, and a voice spoke to me and said, 'Paint sacred art.'"
His diverse range of subjects include pop culture icons. His paintings are colorful and detailed; they use flat picture plane without perspective and are often covered with words, especially Bible verses. Every painting also has a number: God had asked him to do 5,000 paintings to spread the gospel and Finster wanted to keep track. He finished the 5,000 a few days before Christmas in 1985, but continued painting and numbering until the day he died. He slept in his clothes and subsisted on 20-minute naps, working around the clock. Mr. Finster said he did not fear death. ''Death is not my problem. My problem is getting all my jobs done well before I leave."
Finster gained national fame after his collaborative work with Athens, Georgia-based rock band R.E.M.. The group filmed the video for the group's debut single "Radio Free Europe" in Finster's Paradise Gardens in 1983. The following year, the band's singer Michael Stipe and Finster collaborated on a painting for the cover of their second album Reckoning.
After that the band made the song "Maps and Legends" (in its third album Fables of the Reconstruction) as an homage to Finster. Along with R.E.M., Finster also appeared in the documentary film Athens, GA: Inside Out, filmed in 1985, in which he tells the story of how he came to be an artist. Finster (and his art) also appears in the band's video for Radio Free Europe.
commissioned a Finster painting for Little Creatures
in 1985. Howard Finster was responsible for introducing millions to outsider art, but even with his fame, he remained focused on religious outreach. He said of the Talking Heads album, "I think there's twenty-six religious verses on that first cover I done for them. They sold a million records in the first two and a half months after it come out, so that's twenty-six million verses I got out into the world in two and a half months!"
Lee Kogan, director of the Folk Art Institute at the American Museum of Folk Art, called him "one of the most important self-taught artists of the 20th century". By the time he died, Mr. Finster, who called himself a "second Noah," was a celebrity in his own right. He played his banjo on Johnny Carson's television show, designed an award-winning record album cover for the Talking Heads and executed paintings to hang in the Library of Congress.
Finster died in 2001 in Rome, Georgia at the age of 84.