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22 Art Songs for Your Late-Summer Listening Pleasure


Jonathan Richman, probably around the time he wrote “Pablo Picasso” (1976)


Here, Glasstire readers, are 22 art songs for your late-summer listening pleasure, from me to you. Not a comprehensive list (by any stretch!), but an attempt to honor some old favorites, introduce you to some tunes and performers you may not have heard before, and toss in some of my sentimental picks. A lot of genres are represented here.

These are all, for me, very listenable songs, and perhaps ideal for a car trip or flight on your way to a museum show or art-friendly city, or a wander through a museum or gallery.

Listen to this audio below if you want to hear how I came by the list and why I chose each track. I speak briefly about each one. (Parents: two uses of profanity.)



Here’s the list and the links that’ll take you to each track on youtube (some are videos; most are just the music):

The first two I had to just put at the top for obvious reasons:

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers – “Pablo Picasso” (1976)

David Bowie – “Andy Warhol” (1971)


The rest are in no particular order, really, but I like this flow:

King Krule/Zoo Kid – “Out Getting Ribs” (2011)

Rufus Wainwright – “The Art Teacher” (2004)

The Rezillos – “(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures” (1979)

The Jam – “Art School” (1977)

King Crimson – “The Night Watch” (1974)

They Might Be Giants – “Meet James Ensor” (1994)  Very informative!

Talking Heads – “Artists Only” (1978)

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Art Star” (2001)

Santigold – “L.E.S. Artistes” (2008)

Paul Simon – “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War” (1983)

Regina Spektor – “All The Rowboats” (2012)

The Weepies – “Painting by Chagall” (2006)

Terry Allen – “Truckload of Art” (1979)

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – “Spiral Jetty” (2011)

Art Brut – “Modern Art” (2004)

Television – “Venus” (1977) Let Television into your life.

Mission of Burma – “Max Ernst” (1981)

Belle & Sebastian – “It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career” (1998)

David Bowie – “Joe the Lion” (1977) RIP our beloved Chris Burden. We miss you.

Bonus! Martin Creed! – “Thinking/Not Thinking (Work-1090)” (2011)


Enjoy your first week of August, and I’ll be back the week after next.




[Update 7/31/15: Thanks to Iva Kinnaird, who made a Youtube playlist where you can listen to all the songs HERE]



also by Christina Rees
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17 Responses

  1. Iva

    Yes, do a part II! and it sounds like there is enough for a Part III! I love music more than art. It gives us (artists) something to listen to when we work and not go crazy, or helps us go crazy in the right way.

  2. This is great! How have I never heard the Pablo Picasso song before? I’m sure he got called an asshole more than once from his many paramours. I haven’t listened to Talking Heads in so long. They have a special place in my heart.

  3. David McClain

    If you do a part II, I would suggest the whole album, Songs for Drella, by Lou Reed and John Cale, their bio-album tribute to Warhol released shortly after his death.

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