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“Pablo Picasso” updated

In a strange way it was fortuitous that the original link I used for this song during my 2016 song-a-day tribute stopped working because Picasso died 50 years ago this month. That coincidence is just about the only thing this song actually has to do with the actual Picasso. Well, that’s not true— the song touches on some of his more superficial features, such as his height. But Picasso as subject matter seems to be more of an excuse to string together some essentially meaningless lyrics to go along with the music.

Bowie actually doubles down on the lyrics-as-excuse. This is a cover of a 70s song by the Modern Lovers. The original version sounds radically different than Bowie’s. Bowie even changed some of the lyrics. The Modern Lovers very much had a garage-band sound (interestingly, one of the band’s members, Jerry Harrison, better known as a member of the Talking Heads, has been touring of late with sometime Bowie-guitarist Adrian Belew, performing songs from Remain in Light). Anyway, Bowie’s version of this song is far from the original— slick and somewhat camp. Bowie compared this song’s inclusion on Reality to “Cactus,” which was also a cover, on Heathen. But “Cactus” was an ominous song that fit into Heathen’s atmosphere of dread. “Pablo Picasso” is funny.

What I originally wrote on June 5, 2016 (Day 145):
This one is very different than Bowie’s other song about an artist, Andy Warhol. First, this is actually a cover. Second, I don’t think it really has anything to do with Pablo Picasso. The Picasso of this song is a chick-magnet bad-ass character sort of like Fonzie. If the actual Picasso displayed any of the qualities highlighted in this song, they are not the source of his artistic legacy. Nonetheless it makes for a fun song. Album: Reality.

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