Illustrating Song Lyrics Using Midjourney AI

Published: 8/3/2022

There are a lot of philisophical arguments around AI generated art—is it really art, is it derrivative, does it negatively impact the artists whose work went into the model, how does any of that differ from human consumption and modulation of art, etc. This post isn't about that. This is about having fun with a new tool.

Using Midjourney I started illustrating song lyrics. Using the stanzas as prompts yielded interesting, chaotic results. Occaisional words need to be changed in order to comply with Midjourney's content guidelines (like changing guts to courage to convey the same meaning, without the risk of generating...well...guts).

The first song I illustrated this way was Josh Ritter's Another New World. This haunting narrative of an explorer hell-bent on making a hyperborean discovery was released in 2010, on the album So Runs the World Away. It hooked me from the first listen, and that love deepened following the Punch Brothers cover in 2012.

Here are the illustrations, and the stanzas that inspired them.

The leading light of the age all wondered amongst Themselves what I would do next | After all that I'd found in my travels around The world was there anything else left? ”Gentlemen", I said, "I've studied the maps, And if what I'm thinking is right, There's another new world at the top of the world, For whoever can break through the ice”

loading...

I looked round the room in that way I once had And I saw that they wanted belief So I said "All I've got are my guts and my God" Then I paused, "and the Annabelle Lee" Oh the Annabelle Lee, I saw their eyes shine The most beautiful ship in the sea My Nina, My Pinta, My Santa Maria My beautiful Annabelle Lee

loading...

That spring we set sail as the crowd waved from shore And on board the crew waved their hats But I never had family just the Annabelle Lee So I didn't have cause to look back I just set the course north and I studied the charts And toward dark I drifted toward sleep And I dreamed of the fine deep harbor I'd find Past the ice for my Annabelle Lee

loading...

After that it got colder the world got quiet It was never quite day or quite night And the sea turned the color of sky turned the color Of sea turned the color of ice 'Til at last all around us was fastness One vast glassy desert of arsenic white And the waves that once lifted us Sifted instead into drifts against Annabelle's sides

loading...

The crew gathered closer at first for the comfort But each morning would bring a new set Of the tracks in the snow leading over the edge Of the world 'til I was the only one left After that it gets cloudy but it feels like I lay there For days maybe for months But Annabelle held me the two of us happy Just to think back on all we had done

loading...

We talked of the other worlds we'd discover As she gave up her body to me And as I chopped up her mainsail for timber I told her of all that we still had to see As the frost turned her moorings to nine-tail And the wind lashed her sides in the cold I burned her to keep me alive every night In the lover's embrace of her hold

loading...

I won't call it rescue what brought me here back to The old world to drink and decline And to pretend that the search for another new world Was well-worth the burning of mine But sometimes at night in my dreams comes the singing Of some known tropical bird And I smile in my sleep thinking Annabelle Lee Has finally made it to another new world

loading...

loading...