While strolling, or should I say hustling- to avoid tourist-hating glares and eye rolls, through the most populated city in the United States, I would always wonder how many amazing people had walked the very same sidewalks as me. In the city where celebrity sightings are as common as taxi drivers cutting people off, it would be difficult to find a street in Manhattan that doesn’t have some secret claim to fame. The birthplace of some of the greatest music of all time, New York City is where many artists got their starts in all different genres of music from jazz to punk rock and everything in between and also the place many of them chose for their album art photos. Real Estate Agent by day, Bob Egan spends his free time as an album art detective, hunting down settings of some of his favorite records for popspotsnyc.com.
Paul Caridad and I met Mr. Egan in a serendipitous New York fashion- at a falafel place in Greenwich Village that seats about 8 people. Paul noticed Bob looking at an awesome-looking Carly Simon record and sparked up a conversation. We talked over pitas and Bob told us that this album was his latest project. With the help of Google Maps Street view, Bob has been able to hunt down the locations of some amazing events in pop culture and Rock and Roll. Each entry on his blog goes through the history of the album and all of the intricate trials and tribulations it took to track down each piece of pop history.
In tracking Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited Egan found that the townhouse stoop in Gramercy Park was right under his nose and he had walked right past it numerous times in the past.
Here’s how he got the tip:
On the site, Kramer, who photographed Dylan many times, is quoted as saying that he took the shot outside of an apartment that Dylan was sharing with his manager, Albert Grossman “in Gramercy Park.” He added that he took the photo out on the front steps. Dylan had gone in and put on a motorcycle t-shirt and the photographer positioned Dylan’s friend (Bob Neuwirth) with a camera, behind him, and took two frames and “that was that.
A fan of Bob’s site also alerted him that The Flight of the Conchords used the same spot for one of their hilarious music videos. (The relevant part starts around 3:40 in.):
Bob has received some much deserved praise for all of his detective work. The art director for Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush album wrote to him:
Wow! Your piece placing the album cover shot in context is mind blowing and caused me to have an acid flashback. I am Gary Burden, Neil Young’s long time visualist and art person. I art directed the taking of this photo and was standing right there behind Joel when the shutter clicked. Very good idea and execution.
What an honor that must have been!
How did I find it? Pretty simple. If you look closely at the garbage can to the left of Maria — the address is right on it! 418 West 56th Street. In the photo, I’ve turned it sideways so that it’s easier to see.
Pretty Clever, Bob!
Meeting Bob was like being in a Rock and Roll History course with the coolest professor on Earth. This post can not even begin to describe how in depth he goes for each one of the projects on his blog. Be sure to check out PopSpotsNYC for more incredible pop culture locales uncovered! Send Bob a Tweet to let him know how awesome his work is and follow to see the latest PopSpots right away!
My 15 second Viddy Interview with Bob Egan in front of Bob Dylan’s Old Apartment on Macdougal