Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Art in Music -- Humorous Songs About Picasso, Cezanne, and More...

Today's theme of songs that mention art -- "Humor." If you can't handle sarcasm when it comes to your favorite topic of art, then these songs may not be very humorous to you. But if you enjoy a good laugh and are willing to see the funniness of certain kinds of art, artists, or art debates, then you'll be able to appreciate the obvious amount of deep knowledge of art history required to compose these lyrics and thereby create these humorous tunes.

Modern Lovers -- Pablo Picasso
This hilarious rendition of Picasso's love-life confirms what many people believe -- the mysterious and thoughtful lives of artists are sexy and desirous. The indie rock band puts it bluntly, "Well some people try to pick up girls, And they get called assholes, This never happened to Pablo Picasso, He could walk down your street, And girls could not resist his stare..." Well, whether it was the girls chasing Picasso, or Picasso chasing the girls, who's to say; but we do know for sure that Picasso was well-known for having many extra-marital lovers.

Talking Heads -- Artists Only
This Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, including two members who were also visual artists, knew the trials and struggles of the artist's life. This funny song showcases the inner thoughts of creatives as they sing, "You can't see it til it's finished!" and "I don't have to prove...that I am creative!" Haha, every artist can surely relate.

Art in Music Warhol
David Bowie -- Andy Warhol
This recording begins before the music starts with a funny intro of Bowie correcting the recorder's pronunciation of Warhol's name. "It's "Warhol", not "Warho," he reiterates. Once the music begins, the song shares stories of Warhol's fame and glory, as well as bits of his high-rolling lifestyle.

Joni Mitchell -- Turbulent Indigo
If you didn't already know that Joni Mitchell was a multi-talented woman critically acclaimed for both her music as well as her paintings, you should. As a serious artist, she often included little pieces of art history knowledge or art-making techniques into her songwriting. Here, she presents the truthful and ironic dilemma of the wealthy high-society status that Van Gogh's paintings have, yet how he himself was lowly and unwelcomed. "The madman hangs in fancy homes, They wouldn't let him near!" Doesn't this make you question our current white-wall gallery approach to art?

Cezanne in Music
5 Chinese Brothers -- Cezanne
Here, the singer proclaims the much-debated tale of Cubism's beginnings. Was it Picasso or Cezanne? This guy clearly states it was definitely Cezanne, sharing the information in a matter-of-fact and charming way. Personally, I got several laughs out of the song -- not for it's historical assertions, but for it's funny presentation.

Stay tuned for more "Art in Music" posts...

In researching the musings of various musicians about the topic of visual art, I found songs including mentions of art are somewhat limited in quantity, yet profoundly inspiring and memorable. I chose to sort my findings according to a few common themes and then present a review of each group on the following schedule:
  • ODES (Part 1) to specific artworks, artists, or art movements -- June 8 (4 songs)
  • LOVE songs, some hopeful and others confused, referencing art -- July 6 (6 songs)
  • HUMOROUS songs about art or specific artists -- August 3 (5 songs)
  • BIOGRAPHIES of specific artists' lives -- September 7 (3 songs)
  • ODES (Part 2) to specific artworks, artists, or art movements -- October 5 (4 songs)
  • BALLADS of heartbreak, using art as a metaphor -- November 2 (3 songs)
  • REALISTIC narrations of pain, hope, struggle, and life, presented with references to art -- December 7 (5 songs)