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A Facebook friend posted about his meeting with Derek Riggs, the creator of Eddie, the character gracing the covers of Iron Maiden’s albums. Despite my efforts to soil that character, Eddie is iconic, as are the album covers generally. Among those covers, Number of the Beast is my favorite, and probably my favorite album cover of all time. Somewhere in Time is more impressive, and (one of my favorite 5 albums) Powerslave is more interesting, but Number of the Beast wins. My reasoning is less about the display and more about the message.
Derek intended no message.
“That particular idea I stole from a comic book that I’d read in the 70s, then I adapted it. I wasn’t trying to create a mood. I was just trying to get the job done in the short time I had.”
I inferred a clear message from it, and it raises a pet peeve of mine. When someone gets admonished for doing something bad, rather than say, “I will be a better person going forward,” they sometimes say something like, “That’s not who I am. That’s not me.”
Well, who the hell was it? It was your body doing that crazy stuff. Is there a gremlin living in your head controlling your every move? This excuse is appropriately along the lines of “the devil made me do it,” and it’s a subtle way to avoid properly owning up for the mistake. No, you did the bad thing. You’re responsible. It is you. We hope it’s not who you want to be, and we hope that you’ll grow out of it, but right now, you’re the asshole, not some unidentified, supernatural manipulator. The album exemplifies this by showing that, while the devil is pulling Eddie’s strings, Eddie is pulling the devil’s strings. The smaller Eddie is what people see, the devil is who Eddie blames, but ultimately Eddie is in control. That’s true for all of us.
Is my interpretation correct? Well, yes, because it’s a subjective perspective. Good art encourages you to think and feel on your own. It doesn’t matter what the artist intended; I read into it what I do, and you read into it what you do. Both of us can like it even if our interpretations are in direct opposition to each other or even to the artist.
In this case, I’m sure most of you took the same message from the art, so there really isn’t much of a dispute. So, I guess the real message of this post is, “Leave your gatekeeping at the door.”
Think about it.
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