Sunday, 2 June 2013

Never Mind The Jackson Pollocks - 10 Songs about artists

Lyricists namecheck their literary heroes often enough, but a few also honour their inspirational artists too. Here's 10 artists immortalised in song.

1) "Andy Warhol" - David Bowie
Written when Bowie went to New York and hung out at The Factory with the artist. Apparently Warhol was not best pleased with what Bowie saw as his tribute. God it was if Bowie had never heard the Velvet Underground's album. This live version of the song is bizarre in the extreme, starting out as jungle or dub step almost, before reverting to it's carnivalesque pub stomp from the original Hunky Dory album.

2) "Pablo Picasso" - Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers

Jonathan Richman goes to the heart of the matter and ditches Picasso's artistic merits, instead concentrating on the man's magnetism. And I love it. The track was used in the film "Repo Man"

3) "David Hockney's Diaries" - Television Personalities
The king of ice cool art here honoured by the British kings of indie lo-fi pop. Note, despite the proud/ironic boast of the cover art "They could have been bigger than the Beatles", the TVPs were so far ensconced in their niche that couldn't even be bigger than the Television Personalities.

4) "Born Toulouse Lautrec" - New Bomb Turks
Slightly odd alliance of US prole-punkers and fine art, but there you go.

5) "Vincent" - Don Maclean
Not only does Don dedicate the song title to the famous artist, the song proceeds to describe Van Gogh's paintings.

6) "Music For Jackson Pollock - Morton Feldman
because they not only knew each other, but the avant garde muso wanted to draw parallels with the revolutionary artist. A fertile period in US arts with the two art forms informing one another. Plinky plink music for slithers of dripping paint. A perfect symbiosis.

7) "Music For Marcel Duchamp" - John Cage
More plinky plink minimalism to honour the prankster godfather of the avant garde, he who recycled a toilet urinal and made it art, Marcel Duchamp. Cage wrote a piece of music without any notes or sounds at all. The "players" were still instructed to turn over the music score even though they weren't playing  their instruments.

8) "(I Want To Be) Tracey Emin" - These New Puritans
Quite jaunty tribute to the queen of jaunty trash art aesthetic herself, la Dame Tracey. Their genre is described as "Art Rock" which is quite fitting really. Don't forget that many of the early punk rock bands in the UK were formed by art college students.

9) "Painting By Chagall" - The Weepies
An example of lazy writing. Why come up with your own metaphor when you can just reference the style of a proper artist like Chagall. Dreck.

10) "Goodbye Toulouse" - The Stranglers
And so Toulouse gets 2 songs dedicated to him in this chart. This song doesn't really work for me, the wistful lyrical description of the street scenes painted by Lautrec, propelled by an ultra modern bass thrum, that's more stampede than café flaneur.

1 comment:

Tim VanSant Writes said...

This doesn't exactly fit your theme, but you put me in mind of Painters by Jewel.