The cover image for The Solution is the Problem depicts a solitary, leafless tree exposed on a plain with clouds covering the sky.Â As these songs have all developed, I have been drawn to the image of a singular, weather-beaten tree, the only thing standing tall in stormy times, and have found a few over the years that would work well.Â I think the concept relates well to the songs, and the notion of feeling like an outcast, standing alone, beaten down by your environment, a comforting ear nowhere to be found.
I like the questions it asks â€“ what is this tree doing out here all alone?Â Is it dying or just going through a tough winter?Â Is there anything else near?Â Is the weather going to get better or worse? â€“ all questions that could be asked of the environments in these songs.
I gave it a sort of extreme color treatment to make it stand out a bit more, and to represent the â€œextremeâ€ filters we usually see each other through â€“ demonization, paranoia, character assassination, and so on.
It is not, as some will inevitably suggest, a Joshua Tree, and does not have anything to do with the U2 album of the same name.Â In fact, Joshua Trees rarely grow alone, but mostly in groups, providing an ironic mirror of the career of a mainstream rock band â€“ they can put a lonely tree on their album but theyâ€™re never alone.
The photo was taken by Ian Greig and released under the Creative Commons License, which sadly is all I can afford in terms of photography.Â The tree itself is north of Liverpool, England.Â I am grateful to Ian for making this iconic photo available and welcoming me to use it.Â In fact, the page on which I originally found it now says the photo was selected â€œby an American singer songwriter to be used as an album cover.â€