Once upon a time painting served a very important function: documentation. Set “art” aside for a moment and simply think about what the ability to render things real and imagined allowed people to do prior to photography. Portraits were our family photos, landscapes broadened our view of the world, on and on.
Now we post photos of our sandwiches and desserts, so we don’t really need the visual arts for historical purpose. That doesn’t mean that painting is no longer important, simply that the inherent value of a marked up canvas has changed. Some find them valuable as investments. Others see worth in the craftsmanship itself. Lots of people just like pretty pictures, and that’s okay, too.
For me, though, the value of painting in the modern world lies in the doing. Regardless of the outcome, getting out the brushes and feeling the hum of right brain dominance is a joy unto itself.
All of which is my way of saying that although my high school self-portrait was a hunk of junk by virtually any standard, it was a raging success in the sense that the doing switched off my self-critical brain long enough to give me a little peace.
And that is why today you are getting a playlist of songs about paint:
“When I Paint My Masterpiece,” Bob Dylan. An obvious choice, but a good one to get things moving:
“War Paint,” Rush. Presto is an overlooked nugget in the Rush discography. Far from their best but far from their worst, you can find used CD copies for just a couple of bucks. Give it a spin:
“Pucker Paint,” Danny Wolfe. A weird old rockabilly cut that sounds really dirty for some reason. You can find it on volume 5 of the That’ll Flat Git It series:
“Painting the Town Blue,” X. So what’s the deal — haven’t I convinced you to buy More Fun in the New World yet? Come on!
“Painted Bird,” Siouxsie and the Banshees. You can’t spell Siouxsie without I.O.U., which I made abundantly clear in a very cheesy linocut circa 1986:
“Paint A Vulgar Picture,” The Smiths. Cool find! A mopetastic demo:
“New Coat of Paint,” Tom Waits. Waits hadn’t quite found his voice yet at this point in his career, but he was getting close:
“Painted From Memory,” Elvis Costello. The title cut from the great Costello/Bacharach one-off:
What “paint” songs do you have on your playlist? Don’t let me down — I left out a big one. Let me hear it, I’m listening.