Clearing Winter Crowds
Yosemite National Park, California
Last night I watched a biography of Clive Davis, the music producer and founder of Arista Records. Clive has signed on many of the most popular singers, songwriters, and bands that people of a certain age know and love: extraordinary artists from Janis Joplin to Alicia Keys. There was a special bond however, between him and Whitney Houston so the show spent more time exploring that relationship and her tragic death. Of course, you can't discuss Whitney Houston without delving into her gorgeous, full throated rendition of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You." What? Dolly Parton's? Yes, Dolly Parton wrote and sang that song 20 years before Ms. Houston belted it out in the so-so movie, "The Bodyguard." And yet, it has become so much Whitney's song that if Dolly wasn't such a superstar herself I doubt anyone would know the song other than what flowed via Whitney's beautiful voice. She now owns that song.
It has happened before, Jimi Hendrix and "All Along the Watchtower", "Blinded by the Light" sung by Manfred Mann's Earth Band and probably dozens more.
Which brings me to this: Why not photographs?
For example: Why have we not seen someone other than Ansel Adams own that grand vista from Yosemite's Tunnel View shown in, Clearing Winter Storm? Adams made that image in 1944! Over 75 years ago and no one has toppled the king? You'd have to be pretty naive to think that no one has created a better image from that spot; millions have tried. It wouldn't surprise me that over those 75 years someone's Uncle Bob or Aunt Jenny didn't accidentally take a quick snap while visiting and ended up with something equally as marvelous. Perhaps even those of you reading this have created something just as fine as Saint Ansel. Are we all just making copies?
So, is it because he was the first... the best...the most recognized... or maybe, the most marketed? Is Clearing Winter Storm locked in our cultural consciousness; the photographic equivalent of the Mona Lisa? Or am I totally off base?