Saturday, February 28, 2009

Music has color, art has rhythm

Anyone that knows me knows that I love music...probably too much. Just ask my checking account (or my wife...but they're the same thing anyway).

I can remember being about 14, back when I lived here in Savannah as a kid, moving from house to house, project to project (as in housing project). One mother with five kids will do that to you, I guess. I can remember one house out in the sticks because at that time I had one of those old radio/record players that opened like a suitcase. I would listen to the local rock station (although, back then, the variety was so great I also heard tons of great old was Georgia, after all) late at night, when I was supposed to be asleep. WSGA was the station, and I actually still have two old small xerox playlists from back then...around 1971 (see below, and click on it to be able to read a section of the varied list). One song I particularly remember was Emerson, Lake and Palmer's From the Beginning. Apropos, I guess.

Since then, I have always immersed myself in music, even though I never learned to play an instrument. I sing pretty well...when no one is around to listen. I have been a DJ at a few small radio stations over the years, and doing it for a living would be dream come true. But, it would have to be at a station with great variety, such as XM, for example. Anyway, I digress.

Many of my paintings have either been portraits of musicians (you can see many of those in the music section of my site at, which have many times enabled me to meet those same musicians...or sometimes I will name a painting after a song. Much of the time, the painting will really have very little to do with the song it's named just seemed to fit. For example, the very old one below is named after a line in a song by Guadalcanal Diary called Where Angels Fear to Tread. The line is "Rattlesnake coiled in a young girl's arms."

Next, another older piece (probably around 1982 or so) is called Anima Rising, after a line in a song by the great Joni Mitchell.

Next, you can view a painting that combines the coast of San Diego, where I lived for about 10 great years, and a "Ghost Girl," named after a song by the wacky and sometimes moody Split Enz.

There are many more that I have done in this manner over the years, inspired by the music I listened to constantly. Related to that, a class I am a teacher's assistant in this quarter had a music related recent assignment. They had to adapt a poem (or song lyrics) into a four page sequential story. If I were in the class, I would have many choices, being so darn old...but the one that came to mind in this class was the great Genesis album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. There are so many great images and story sequences on that album. The main character, a young puerto rican graffitti artist called Rael, is hurled into another dimension, where he interacts with snake women, diseased characters covered with boils and sores, carpet crawlers, a giant raven that snatches a jar from around Rael's neck (which contains his severed penis that he is hoping to get reattached), and much more. The album is rife with great story ideas. I myself did an illustration or two loooong ago based on it. But, I couldn't get any of the students interested...guess it is just way too long before their time.

But then again, good music is timeless and spans generations. My 8 year old likes the Beatles, my 14 year old has recently gotten into Jeff Buckley, and I like my share of the current stuff.

To paraphrase Nick Drake, music is magic. Sometimes, I am a lucky man in that I am able to apply some of that magic to my art. Lucky man. So, we are back to Emerson, Lake and Palmer.


Anonymous said...

LOVE the San Diego rocks!

kenmeyerjr said...

Thanks very, who are you? I gots to know!