IN 1971, PHOTOGRAPHER HENRY DILTZ AND ART director Gary Burden were invited to the home of an unknown singer and songwriter named Jackson Browne to dream up the cover of his first album. “We went into his house, he gave us each a beer and started playing the piano,” Diltz recalls. “He started singing ‘Rock Me on the Water’ full voice, and I got the shivers. It was just awesome.” Diltz instinctively grabbed his camera and began snapping photos of the impromptu performance, but admits he had trouble concentrating.  “I could barely take pictures,” he recalls. “It was like I was floating in air.” Minutes later the trio decamped to Browne’s backyard, where Diltz took the portrait that would become the basis for the iconic cover of Jackson Browne. Burden treated the photo with a silk-screen effect and duplicated the appearance of a canvas water bag (used at the time to keep auto radiators from overheating in the desert), right down to the precaution “Saturate Before Using.” Browne worried that listeners would believe that was the album title, and for good reason—by the 1980s a CD reissue of the album mistakenly listed its title on the spine as Saturate Before Using.

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