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“Dolby’s Top 10 Songs about Paintings or Painting”

I’m not sure, but I think, that we’re entering a time of year now when a forest of genius typically matriculates up onto canvas — from the dregs and doldrums of still, stultified and scene-less winters. Realities have to exist in a person’s own mind in these environs, and so the imagination necessarily, and defensively, takes on wild and unprecedented shapes. And sure it’s something ironic, but I think it’s even more romantic, in a way, to fall in love with a painting, than with a person, because it suggests undeniable sensitivity in the muse, the ability to be taken and floored by art itself, not by a person in the flesh.

And ok, some of these songs are loosely, LOOSELY about paintings (like they just mention a painter, but they have to be mentioning the ARTISTIC ASPECTS of a painter, I discounted The Modern Lovers’ “Pablo Picasso,” as that song is just about how much of an a**hole the actual man is). Also I left off 10,000 Maniacs’ “The Painted Desert,” because I think that’s a metaphor. And yeah, “Pictures of Lily” straight up isn’t even about a painting at all, sure. Thanks for noticing. But it captures the ESSENCE of what I wanted to do here, seeing as the “Lily” girl is someone he’s never even met — bottle the phenomenon of such emotional rapture rendered from visual arts as to activate such things as muse-informing in the aural. I have a feeling a lot of these guys walk around shaky-handed, in REAL life, that is, if they live such a thing.

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10 Little Joy – “How to Hang a Warhol”

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Wow, Drew Barrymore might have been a little wet for these guys. So says my expert opinion. I think this it was around the point, 2009, where indie started to just be obnoxious — where it would have been better had bands just come and rocked out, like Iceage, Plague Vendor or Ceremony, but it was still seen as virtuous to be so vaudeville and chic. Still, this album proved definitely listenable and pretty inspired, the languorous music of the beautiful Californian, but somewhat of a telling capsule in its own right.

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9 Everclear – “Sunflowers”

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Actually, the way I went about deriving this song was, I just started thinking to myself, What musical artists actually SING in certain songs about having shaking hands? There was that sappy New Pornographers sh**, the opener on that one Band of Horses album, and then voila, my favorite good ol’ ear-bleeding-inducer, Art Alexakis of Everclear. Dolby Disaster has taken great pains in recent years to praise their last two albums, but the song that made me think of this is the unforgettable Sparkle and Fade closeur “My Sexual Life” (which happens to be sort of a ripoff of Pavement’s song “Box Elder”).

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8 Noah23 – “Guelph”

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Most Noah23 cuts place higher on this list, but “Guelph” lacks the hip-hop drive of his finer moments on Quicksand like “Saw Palmetto,” “Learning Curve” and “Nocturnal.” The line though is all too classic: “You could never in your wildest dreams / Even consider fu**ing with Andy Warhol,” to accompany the line on another one of these songs “Andy Warhol’s gonna blow this pop stand.” One feather in the cap of this whole thing is definitely 23’s intimidating, alpha male emcee status, which here he combines with a sense of one of the most kittenish, subtle artists of our time. Also recommended from this album is “Octave” (and the whole damn thing, obviously).

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7 Das Damen – “Sad Mile”

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Even more “grunge” than Helmet, their early-’90’s New York brethren, Das Damen occupied the melodic, anthemic realm of things, with pop tunes set to fuzzy guitars about frustration, angst and alienation — the everyman’s battles. “Sad Mile” boasts the following chorus: “After you walk that sad mile / You’ll know why / Just why / Mona Lisa smiles,” and it’s the type of thing that wields a certain appeal even if it doesn’t truly make sense (or if it does, I’m sure). Just this consolidation of struggle, the idea that everybody goes through the same things and that language is this powerful in relating the most specific and hopeless of feelings ubiquitously makes for a nice rock and roll mission statement in and of itself.

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6 Captain Beefheart – “Run Paint Run Run”

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If you’re in the right mood, like maybe driving around going from task to task on a gloomy workday, Captain Beefheart can be pretty rewarding — the grating jazz rock playing like an echo of life’s own cacophony. This track ushers in from one of his later albums, Doc at the Radar Station, a beautifully self-ambivalent and unassumingly brief jaunt of dissonant pop, “Run Paint Run Run” being sort of a transition track between the climactic instrumental “A Carrot is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond” and the plangent electric guitar/vox number “Sue Egypt.”

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5 The Who – “Pictures of Lily”

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I recently heard a story from this dude I work with about him being 14, being at a Who show with his dad, and getting flashed by each of a group of like four girls while partying outside before the show. It’s so ironic that The Who must have become so accustomed to behavior like this from coeds, because so many of their early songs like “Pictures of Lily” handle loneliness, and hopelessness before the female sex. Specifically, “Lily” is the tale of the first-person protagonist, Roger Daltrey, at this time a young boy, falling in love with the girl in these little pictures, only to find out she’s “been dead since 1929 / Oh how I cried that night.” A staple of greatest hits collections like Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy, it’s hardly a song anyone would call The Who’s best, but works pretty well for its excessively simple charm nonetheless.

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4 The Breeders – “When I Was a Painter”

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There’s lots of ways of looking at The Breeders’ debut album Pod, and one is that it plays as the work of a band which knew its glory days would be plentiful and temporally dispersed — with an initial fearlessness before the prospect of doing things differently. “When I Was a Painter” ends with a lengthy, hypnotic and riffy outro, which manages to be trippy, in a sense, even as a garage-rock trio, for its infectious groove and intimidating Kelley Deal guitar attack.

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3 Belle and Sebastian – “Sukie in the Graveyard”

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Stuart Murdoch on this album toggles between personal matters and obtuse narratives with commendable, artful ease, and this vignette about an amateur art “student” rises as a standout on what’s already a terrific album, The Life Pursuit. Also, it further tabloids Murdoch’s penchant for colloquy [“(Sukie) didn’t enroll but she wiped the floor with all the a**holes], to be pitted against “Another Sunny Day”’s “We’re playing for our lives / The referee gives us fu**-all.”

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2 The Stone Roses – “Going Down”

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And frequent one of those quaint bookstores in the rundown part of town, of course, for a discovery of what this song is ACTUALLY about. Still, not bad for a b side, you might say, eh sport?

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1 Bob Dylan – “Desolation Row”

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“Our age is essentially a tragic one,” once mused D.H. Lawrence, “so naturally, we refuse to accept it as such.” And Lester Bangs once wrote in his blurb entitled “California” something about New York being composed of “nothing,” about he and his friends regularly lying around with near-catatonia-inducing depression staring at the walls in their respective apartments, but that they still preferred their lives to California, because that “something” out west was so loathsome, or something like that. Anyway, I hope that covers it. Dylan clearly wanted no part of California, or flowers in his hair. You might say he’d seen too much, and actually, at first I wasn’t sure if “Desolation Row” featured any painting mentions or not, I just looked to it gravitationally knowing it to be a regularly warehouse of putrid expressionist imagery, a song that seems to predict a half a dozen assassinations of peaceful and inspirational American leaders, along with “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.”

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38 thoughts on ““Dolby’s Top 10 Songs about Paintings or Painting”

  1. either stupid or forgetful. we need to be reminded sometimes. it’s human nature to forget the unpleasant experience or pretend things did not happen. maybe we need a strong, courageous leader to show us the way. i think there is a consensus here that a food blogger makes a very good cahndiate;)dappy wishes to you in Penang 😉

  2. I really had a bad time meanwhile I was going in a diet, I reaalllly suffer! I love eating and I feel that is so unfair that I can eat whatever I want!!! But now I’m ok, I&;1827#ve lost 10 pouds! wishing for losing more 5… a lot of work!

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