Friday, 2 November 2012

My Top Ten Famous Artist Songs

Inspired by a recent blogpost by Kellogsville, here's my Top Ten songs about people who were good with a paintbrush...

10. Dar Williams - Mark Rothko Song

Dar Williams wanders around a gallery with a friend, admires the Renoirs and muses on the sad death of Mark Rothko. Some folks were born with a foot in the grave...

9. Counting Crows - When I Dream Of Michelangelo

And I dream of Michelangelo when I'm lying in my bed
I see god upon the ceiling I see angels overhead
And he seems so close as he reaches out his hand
But we are never quite as close as we are led to understand

8. Manic Street Preachers - Interiors (Song for Willem de Kooning)

From the album that made them household names... and yet, still they wrote songs like this.

7. Teenage Fanclub - Escher

And I don't know if I'm
going up or down, with you
Don't know if I'm coming
going up or down with you
But I don't mind

6. David Bowie - Andy Warhol 

Apparently, Warhol didn't approve. Which is kinda fitting.

See also Andy Warhol's Dead by Transvision Vamp.

5. Brian & Michael - Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats & Dogs

Manchester's most beloved artist, L S Lowry, gave local lads Brian & Michael (aka Michael Coleman and... erm... Kevin Parrott) an unexpected Number One at the height of punk in 1978. The charts used to be SO much more unpredictably interesting than they are now.

4. Jimmy Webb - Paul Gaugin In The South Seas

I make no secret of the fact that I consider Jimmy Webb one of the greatest songwriters to ever walk the earth, although his songs are usually more famous when performed by others. This one's all Jimmy though. Lovely.

3. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - Pablo Picasso 

In which Mr. Richman finds a truly wonderful rhyme for the name of one of the art world's most famous sons...

Well some people try to pick up girls
And get called assholes
This never happened to Pablo Picasso
He could walk down your street
And girls could not resist his stare and
So Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole

Jonathan Richman also wrote a song about Van Gogh. But someone else beat him to that...

2. Don McLean - Vincent

How you suffered for your sanity...

1. Paul Simon - Rene & Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War

I always thought that was a funny name for a dog.

A beautifully evocative tribute to not only the Belgian surrealist painter, his missus and their dog... but also a host of 50s doo-wop bands Simon imagines might populate the Magritte's record collection.

I also found songs about Dali, Hopper and Toulouse Lautrec... but which one is hanging on your wall?


  1. It doesn't name an artist in the title, but 'Art Star' by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is good.

  2. Replies
    1. Was Romeo a painter?

      Don't worry, Sag, we'll get to Shakespeare in due course. ;-)

  3. Ahem ... *clears throat*

    Banksy The Ohio
    We Are Mark Divo
    Robert Goodnough For You
    Can You Hear The Drums Hernadez
    American Patrick Pye
    Henry Moore Moore Moore
    George Stubbs Tears
    Another Brick In The Warhol
    Caravaggio Of Love
    Emin The Mood For Dancing

    *Apologises and hails taxi*

    1. And here's me regretting the fact that I neglected to include Upon Viewing Brueghel's "Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus" by Titus Andronicus (and I didn't even make that one up!)

  4. Now that's a clever one indeed...Warhol, warhol, warhol

    1. Art for art's sake... as 10CC had it.

  5. OK, how about The Rolling Stones and Paint it Black?

    1. That'll be on my Top Ten Painting (Not By A Famous Artist) Songs. Not that I mean the Stones aren't a famous artist... just that they're not singing about one in particular. I know, I make it more complicated than it needs to be.

  6. Again, no artist in the title but it would be remiss of me not to mention Endless Art by A House.

    1. That was in serious contention, but it failed on the strict criteria.


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