Songs About Art
Lubbock, Tex., proto-alt-country troubadour Terry Allen -- a museum-enshrined painter and conceptual artist in his own right -- opens this playlist with a 1979 song called "Truckload of Art," about a Peterbilt Cabover hauling "significant piles and influential heaps" of "hot avant-garde" across the nation from New York City to California. Appropriately, a truckload of art is what this mix represents: tributes to Vincent Van Gogh from Don McLean; René Magritte from John Cale and Paul Simon; Frank Lloyd Wright from Simon again (with Garfunkel); Andy Warhol from David Bowie; Pablo Picasso from Jonathan Richman; Max Ernst from Mission of Burma; Paul Cezanne from obscure '80s New Wavers Special Guests; Salvador Dali from Television Personalities; M.C. Escher from Teenage Fanclub; Amedeo Modigliani from Book of Love; Michaelangelo from Sheila E; Jean-Michel Basquiat from Les Sans Culottes; and on and on.
There are also songs revolving around specific artworks: Both Nat King Cole and Brad Paisley on Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa; Television on the Venus de Milo; the Pixies (in "Debaser") on Dali and Luis Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou; and -- since bad art is art too! -- both Weird Al Yankovic and '70s folk-rockers Aztec Two-Step on the notorious Velvet Elvis. Rufus Wainwright, the Jam and the Creation all discuss the universal importance of art education, while Artifacts and KRS-One focus on the underground graffiti art phenomenon.
"Endless Art" by Irish alt band A House and "Picasso Baby" by Jay Z both shout out to a whole gallery of visual artists, the latter while exploring the purchase of fine art as a financial investment. And perhaps most fun of all, in "(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures," early Scottish punk goofballs The Rezillos praise an artist girlfriend's knack for molding them like a "lump of mud." See, art can be sexy, too. And on this playlist, it is in the ear of the be-hearer.