Saturday, August 23, 2008
Artists Only: Songs About Painters
About a week or so ago, I tried putting together a playlist of songs about painters. It took some doing. From my own files, I only had about three, and it took a lot of Googling to come up with more.
I kept having to tweak my searches, as "songs about artists" and "songs about painters" was too broad, and the songs themselves tended not to have the kind of specificity I wanted. I didn't want "Paint It Black" or "A Case of You" or "Picture Book" -- those are about something else.
I wanted songs where art or the making of art or the viewing of art really played a strong role -- songs that in some way or another had the smell of oils, the stink of frustration, or the bliss of inspiration about them.
Ultimately I did get some great recommendations from friends, and I stumbled onto some useful lists here, here and here.
In some cases, I just started typing in "song about Mark Rothko" or "song about de Kooning." Those actually worked out, beautifully. No such luck with Arshile Gorky, Bosch, Breughel, or any number of others. I'm sure people have written songs about them. I just don't know what they are.
Also, I discovered a great song by Jonathan Richman about van Gogh that kept me from having to use Don McLean's treacly "Vincent."
Anyway, here's what I came up with, and I rather like it. There isn't a bad song on it.
1. Artists Only, Talking Heads
2. When I Dream of Michelangelo, Counting Crows
3. Vincent Van Gogh, Jonathan Richman
4. The Art Teacher, Rufus Wainwright
5. The Painter, Neil Young
6. Pablo Picasso, The Modern Lovers
7. Hopper Painting, Janis Ian
8. (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures, The Rezillos
9. Painting by Chagall, The Weepies
10. Art School, The Jam
11. When I Was a Painter, The Breeders
12. Max Ernst, Mission of Burma
13. Escher, Teenage Fanclub
14. Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War, Paul Simon
15. Mark Rothko Song, Dar Williams
16. Interiors (Song for Willem de Kooning), Manic Street Preachers
17. In the Gallery, Dire Straits
18. Art Star, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
19. Andy Warhol, David Bowie
20. Art Class (Song for Yayoi Kusama), Superchunk
21. When I Paint My Masterpiece, Bob Dylan