Pat Metheny Group – Travels

Author: Colin | Published: 6/12/09

Pat Metheny Group - Travels

Pat Metheny Group - Travels

Pat Metheny Group - Travels

Pat Metheny Group - Travels

Pat Metheny Group - Travels

Pat Metheny Group - Travels

Artist Pat Metheny Group
Title Travels
Label ECM
Year 1983
Designer Dieter Rehms
Music Jazz
Desktop Download image
Notes This is a very special possession of mine. The design itself by Dieter Rehms is incredibly resonant, particularly for anyone who loves to travel – all those roads and all that light: dawns and dusks and rain and sun, places glimpsed in a moment and gone.

I was given this album for my 20th birthday. At the time I was working as a kitchen porter in a hotel in Munich having run out of money travelling back from spending some time living on a kibbutz. It was a present from the chamber maids, cleaners and other people I worked with in the hotel – their signatures are there on the inner sleeve. Many of them were gastarbeiter from what was then known as Yugoslavia, I can’t help but wonder what happened to them and their families. When I took this album out to photograph I discovered a piece of paper that I must have slipped in there 20 years ago. The note was written by my friend Robin a couple of years after I got back. It’s such a cheerful note and combined with the signatures and little messages from my hotel friends it makes this album priceless.

I’m no enemy of mp3s. I listen to them extensively just as I now read books on my iPhone, but how will digital media accrue these traces of time and memory that I value so dearly? Text and images can be added to mp3 files just as digital books can be annotated, but neither possess half the power that the handwriting of these notes does.

If anyone has something similar, please get in touch in the comments or by email (hardformat – dot – org – @ – gmail – dot – com), we’d love to feature a gallery of sleeves treasured for their marks or the messages they carry. We wouldn’t need high quality pics and it doesn’t have to be personal to you – see this old blog post as a non-personal example.


  1. Very good point, very well made. Like you, I use MP3s extensively, and can’t really imagine going anywhere without my 160gb iPod, but the power of the physical product, when it comes to music or book, is much stronger.

    I can’t bring myself to digital books. For me, the smell of the paper and ink, the feel of the paper, that’s all part of the experience of reading a book. This is perhaps a romantic view of what a book is (after all, the content of the book should be the most important thing, shouldn’t it?), but that’s one that occasionally dictates which edition of a book I buy. I usually get paperbacks for the convenience, but I recently checked different versions of Frankenstein and bought the one that had a nice thick cover, heavy paper and neatest print. Daft? It probably would be for most people, but for me, it’s part and parcel of the experience of reading that particular book. And I went on to buy another book in that collection, which I’d never ever heard of previously.

    When it comes to music, I feel quite sad when I hear kids saying that the artwork doesn’t matter. Of course it does (as this site shows time and time again). And not only the artwork/design, but also the weight of the card used for a sleeve, the choice of card over jewel case for CDs, etc.. All this is part of the experience of listening to a record. It is not essential I guess, but it adds another dimension, it caters for the senses not directly engaged by the music itself.

    In the case of this Pat Metheny album, it is precious to you partly because of what it signifies to you, of the personal touch… Not only this couldn’t happen with MP3s, but the chances of still having MP3 files in 20 years, having survived countless computer crashes and hard drive failures in the process, is, I’d say, pretty slim.

    Comment by themilkman — December 16, 2009 @ 1:52 pm
  2. Thanks Milkman. Funnily enough, I just the other day began reading Jose Saramago’s Death By Degrees as a physical book. I’ve already found myself frustrated at forgetting it – something I never do as I always have my phone with me. Saramago may also not be a good choice for my return to paper as his signature style of very long sentences and very few paragraph breaks is more challenging on the larger format of a page than that of the iPhone screen. Having said that, I do still buy books, but my indulgence is focused specifically on photography books.

    Glad to hear from a fellow fan of the physical!

    Comment by Colin — December 19, 2009 @ 10:25 pm


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