Friday Top 10, errrr, 20: The art of music

This week’s Friday Top 10 is actually a Top 20, and comes by request of the lovely and talented Mrs. Lo for use at her gallery opening next week. It features 20 songs where the song itself, the artist, the album where the song came from, the video for the song, or even the album cover were heavily influenced by works of art or the artist that created it. Some are obvious (I’m looking at you “Upon Viewing Brueghel’s Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus”), while others are a bit more subtle (What influenced “Debaser?” You are soon to find out.) Props to the Onion AV Club for doing a bit of the legwork for me in a really interesting article a few weeks ago. I knew some of these but others are new to me.

Debaser – The Pixies: “Got me a movie / I want you to know. / Slicing up eyeballs / I want you to know” Dali’s surrealist short film “Un Chien Andalou” anyone?

Andy Warhol’s Dead But I’m Not – EIEIO: Put this one in the obvious column, Just loved the heck out of this song and the album it came from (That Love Thang, seek it out!) back in the late 80’s.

Andy Warhol – David Bowie: Well, duh. Lots of Warhol inspired songs/groups on here. Just don’t mispronounce the man’s name in Bowie’s presence.

Venus De Milo – Miles Davis: A Miles Davis classic. Plain and simple.

Losing My Religion – R.E.M.: The amount of Caravaggio imagery in the video for this one is almost a bit overwhelming.

Venus – Television: One of the truly great bands of the 70’s. “I fell / right into the arms / of Venus De Milo.”

Mona Lisa – Nat King Cole: Probably the most famous “art” song ever.

And She Was – Talking Heads: One of two tracks on this list where the album cover was created by one of my favorite Southern artists, the wonderful Howard Finster.

I’m Waiting for the Man – The Velvet Underground: If there is a rock band more associated with an artist than the VU and Andy Warhol, I can’t think of it.

Metal Postcard (Mittagaisen) – Siouxsie and the Banshees: I’ve heard this song a ton and never stopped to consider the art connection. I just knew that Siouxsie rocked. Based on John Heartfield’s 1935 photomontage Hurrah! Die Butter Ist Alle!, and the album it came from was named after Munch’s The Scream.

Blue Period Picasso – Peter, Bjorn, and John: Another that shouldn’t require much in the way explanation.

Cemetery Gates – The Smiths: This one is a bit of a stretch, I’ll grant you. The song rather famously features a laundry list of writers, including Keats, Yeats, and Oscar Wilde. Wilde wrote the Picture of Dorian Gray, and that was about a painting, so art, right? Anyway, I just like the song a lot. My list, my rules.

Dorain Gray – Anna Nalick: Quite frankly, I’ve never heard this song in my life. I needed another song to get to an even 20 and searched for Dorian Gray. Hope it’s a good one. 🙂 Hey, it’s not bad in a Feist-y kind of way.

Upon Viewing Brueghel’s Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus – Titus Andronicus: Probably shouldn’t be surprised that an act that takes its name from Shakespeare would end up on an art playlist.

Pictures of Matchstick Men – Status Quo: Those of us of a certain age probably remember the awesome version of this song done by Camper Van Beethoven. The Quo did it first, however, and it is a shoutout to the paintings of L.S. Lowry. Thanks for clearing that up, AV Club!

Venus in Furs – Velvet Underground: See above.

Pablo Picasso – Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers: I can’t tell you how happy I am to have a reason to include a Modern Lovers track on a Top 10 playlist finally.

Letter Never Sent – R.E.M.: Another Finster gem of an album cover. And my love for this song is borderline embarrassing.

Guernica – The Stone Roses: One of my favorite deep Stone Roses tracks takes it’s name from one of Picasso’s most famous works. Even if the song is beyond pretentious.

Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me) – Paul McCartney and Wings: I’m breaking one of my cardinal rules here and acknowledging Sir Paul’s Wings era, but it’s fitting at least.

And the Spotify playlist for your listening and subscribing pleasure.

Did I miss any good ones?



Posted on September 13, 2013, in Music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Jimmy-

    No obvious art related recommendations, but two comments. One, the beauty of Letter Never Sent cannot be denied. I don’t recall that being on your top REM songs (too lazy to go confirm) but if I am allowed to revise my recommendations, that would certainly make the cut. Secondly, and more importantly, the Matchstick Men song by Status Quo…I had no idea. I am a -huge- Camper fan and everything off of Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, plus Matchstick Men, are WAY up there on my all time list. I am surprised that it is a cover but they certainly are faithful to the original while giving it their own certain flavor. If you want me to get fired up for reminiscent high school music that most have never heard of, start with Litany (Guadalcanal) and then Eye of Fatima. Now I have to go revisit all of my Feelies music. Good stuff.

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