Murmur Trestle
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Murmur Trestle

Jason Thrasher

Foreword by Patterson Hood

Introduction by Beth Hall Thrasher

Title Details

Pages: 104

Illustrations: 60 color photographs

Trim size: 10.700in x 9.750in

Formats

Hardcover

Pub Date: 09/01/2024

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8519-2

List Price: $34.95

Imprint

NewSouth Books

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Bradley Hale Fund for Southern Studies

Murmur Trestle

Jason Thrasher

Foreword by Patterson Hood

Introduction by Beth Hall Thrasher

A photographic meditation on an iconic American structure at the crux of nature, history, and the passage of time

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The back cover of R.E.M.'s influential 1983 album Murmur famously features an image of the wooden Trail Creek Trestle. Over time the aging nineteenth-century train trestle in Athens, Georgia, became known as, simply, the “Murmur Trestle,” a global pilgrimage site for fans of the band. Removed in 2021 to make way for a pedestrian bridge and bike path, the trestle has been captured for the ages in this new collection of photographs by Jason Thrasher.

Thrasher spent six years focusing his lens on an immersive exploration of the Murmur Trestle, photographing it within its changing natural environment. His contemplative images encourage readers to engage in a visual meditation, urging them to closely observe and appreciate the details of the decaying subject. Thrasher’s keen eye and patient observation reveal the wonders of details large and small and the harmonious interplay between wood, light, nature, and the seasons.

Together with a foreword by Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers and “Reason to Rot,” an original poem by MacArthur Fellow J. Drew Lanham, these images speak to the trestle's significance in the community, the region, and the world. Murmur Trestle encourages wanderers to find solace in the gentle rhythm of nature through the passage of time and to embark on personal journeys of introspection and connection with the world around us.

Jason is a fabulous photographer who has always kept his finger on the pulse that makes Athens vibrate. Not surprisingly, this new collection meets the high standards he assigns to his craft.

—Bill Berry, R.E.M. and The Bad Ends

Jason has always had an eye for beauty. Here he has taken our beloved iconic 'Murmur Trestle' and uncovered the creature hiding beneath the mundane shell of creosote and kudzu, giving it an almost otherworldly life of its own.

—Terry Allen, photographer

Here are striking images that surpass imagination: boundless tangles of kudzu in the dying southern light; then, unexpectedly, the trestlework rising up, its framework defying time yet suggesting the poetics of decay. A series of elegant images of the subject under a blanket of snow echoes a minimalist Japanese woodblock print.

—Jim Herbert, painter and filmmaker

A beautiful collection of images of our beloved South, complex and nuanced with spark and surprise.

—Michael Stipe

Murmur Trestle is Jason Thrasher’s visual meditation on one of Athens, Georgia’s most iconic vernacular structures. The trestle was originally made famous by Sandra-Lee Phipps’ Southern Gothic photograph that graced the back cover of R.E.M.’s groundbreaking album Murmur. Thrasher’s book expands upon Phipps’ singular photograph through a William Christenberry-esque multi-year study that beautifully captures the patina of time on the human-built structure as well as the changing natural flora within the surrounding environs.

—Richard McCabe, curator of photography, Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Jason Thrasher’s photographs whisper to us, both up close and from afar, of a now-departed southern monument—the echoes of once-rumbling trains and, later, the bursting forth of southern alternative rock into popular consciousness. With the Murmur Trestle gone, the pictures conjure those intimate moments when Thrasher and the hard-worn bridge once communed together with the teeming spirit and restless power of southern nature.

—Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, curator of American art, Georgia Museum of Art

Gifted photographer Jason Thrasher documented the iconic Athens, Georgia, Trail Creek Trestle (AKA the Murmur Trestle) prior to its demolition, to make way for the new pedestrian bridge and overlook on the Firefly Trail. His new book is an artistic look at the beloved railway trestle in its final hours through the seasons. There is much more than kudzu to be seen—mimosa, Virginia creeper, and jewelweed adorn the creek banks, while moss clings to the old trestle. Downtown Athens feels like it’s a complete world away.

—Vanessa Briscoe Hay, Pylon and Pylon Reenactment Society

Murmur Trestle will be of interest to so many: those interested it in the historical evolution of cities and towns; those who are intrigued with how photographs can tell a story in a way that words cannot; those who want to be more present with their surroundings both natural and human-made; those who tend to notice the ways in which once-important structures are left behind when we've decided they're no longer useful to us.

—Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Bookshop

I have long been a big fan of Jason’s photography and can think of no one better suited and able to capture this part of Athens’ history.

—Mike Mills, R.E.M.

J. Drew Lanham

About the Author/Editor

JASON THRASHER is an artist and professional photographer, covering the Southeast's rich and varied music scene, including portraits of the Drive-By Truckers, Guided by Voices, R.E.M., OutKast, and Widespread Panic. His photographs have been published in Rolling Stone, Billboard, New York Magazine, and the New York Times. His work is in the permanent collections of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, Music City San Francisco Museum, and the Georgia Museum of Art. He is also the author of Athens Potluck, a book of photography and personal essays about the Athens music scene that won the Georgia Author of the Year Award. He lives in Athens, Georgia, where he owns the Ace/Francisco Gallery with his wife and business partner, Beth Hall Thrasher.