The word iconic is so overused that it drives me to iconoclasm, but sometimes it fits. That’s the case with cover of Violent Femmes eponymous (a word I love as much as I hate iconic) 1983 debut album.
Billie Jo Campbell was discovered at age 3 while walking down a street in Los Angeles with her mother. A photographer approached, told the mother that Billie Jo was adorable, and asked if she wouldn’t mind her daughter appearing in a photo shoot at a house in Laurel Canyon. The mother—“a free spirit,” Billie Jo explained—promptly set up an appointment. They later learned that the shoot was for the cover of an album by an obscure acoustic-punk trio from Milwaukee about to release their debut. In the photo, barefoot Billie Jo wears a cute white dress and strains to peer inside a darkened house through a window. She had no idea that this was an apt metaphor for the band’s songs, which capture that precise moment when childhood innocence is corrupted by the obsessions of the adult world—sex, violence, perverted religiosity, and omnipresent death.
A long quote but well worth the space. Here’s the cover:
Here’s the whole damn album: