Andy Warhol in Song
Andy Warhol would have celebrated his 90th birthday this week, the pop artist made an impact on music by helping introduce the influential Velvet Underground to the world, as well as designing album covers and music videos. Warhol’s indirect influence on music is significant as well, there are many musicians who name drop the artist in their songs. Here’s a look at some of them along with a somewhat comprehensive* list of songs that mention Andy Warhol.
“Andy Warhol” - Dana Gillespie
This song about Warhol is best known from David Bowie’s 1971 album “Hunky Dory”. This version is sung by Dana Gillespie, a friend of Bowie’s who sang backup on his “Ziggy Stardust” album. Gillespie actually recorded her version about the same time as Bowie recorded his, but her version wasn’t released until 1973. Both the Bowie and Gillespie versions feature Mick Ronson on guitar. Bowie sent Warhol an advance copy of the song (which now lives in the collection of the Warhol Museum) but according to a 1987 interview, Bowie was never sure if Warhol liked it or not.
“Andy’s Chest” - Lou Reed
This track just name checks Warhol in the title, but was inspired by the 1968 incident where Warhol was shot in the chest multiple times by Valerie Solanas. Originally recorded by the Velvet Underground in 1969, Reed shelved the song until 1972 when he released it on his “Transformer” album (The VU’s version would eventually be released in 1985) . The reference to Andy’s chest is of the multitude of scars left behind from the shooting, which damaged his spleen, lungs, stomach, liver and esophagus. Although Warhol usually hid his scars, he did show them for a series of 1969 photographs by Richard Avedon. Reed wrote about Warhol in song more than once, in 1990, he and John Cale recorded “Songs for Drella” an entire album of songs about Warhol’s life.
"A Simple Desultory Philippic" - Simon & Garfunkel
The subtitle to this 1965 Paul Simon composition is “How I Was Robert McNamara’d into Submission”, and features Simon & Garfunkel doing their best Bob Dylan impression. Name dropping many cultural figures from the 60’s like Jack Kerouac, John Lennon, Cassius Clay, Lenny Bruce, Dylan Thomas and of course, Andy Warhol. Certainly, Simon and Garfunkel are having some fun poking fun at Bob Dylan, and American culture at the time.
“Chocolate Cake” - Crowded House
Among of the more better-known songs that mention Warhol, The Finn Brothers do their fare share of name dropping on this track (including Andrew Lloyd Webber, Elvis Presley, Tammy Faye Bakker, Pablo Picasso). Critical of the culture of consumption, Warhol is mentioned as “spinning in his grave” at the notion of “cheap Picasso fakes”.
“Drunk in Love” - Beyonce (feat. Jay-Z)
After Warhol’s death, his individual paintings were valued in the millions, his name began to appear in songs as a thing. Warhol’s work took on a level of status, having the ability to buy a Warhol was a way of showing off wealth. Jay-Z and Beyonce are said to have a sizable art collection and he name drops Warhol here, in this case “messing up” his Warhol in throes of drunken lovemaking. In fact, Jay-Z’s name appears multiple times on the list below, coming in only behind Lou Reed in mentioning Warhol in song.
“Something Worth Leaving Behind” - Lee Ann Womack
In her 2002 song, Country star Lee Ann Womack mentions Warhol (along with Leonardo Da Vinci, Marilyn Monroe, Mozart and Elvis) in the opening verse of this song, following with “you gotta die to be famous”. A veiled reference perhaps to Warhol’s well-known "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes" quote. There are more than one references to this Warhol quote used in songs on this list, including others from Van Morrison and Tin Machine.
“Dancing Together” - David Byrne & Fatboy Slim featuring Sharon Jones
This track was written by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim for “Here Lies Love”, their musical based on the life of former First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos. The musical debuted in 2013, but three years prior, the duo released an album of all the songs from it sung by various women. Sharon Jones takes the vocals on this track about Marcos hobnobbing with many New York nightlife luminaries in the 1970’s, including Andy Warhol.
|Simon & Garfunkel||"A Simple Desultory Philippic"||1966|
|The Monkees||“No Time”||1967|
|David Bowie||“Andy Warhol”||1971|
|Lou Reed||“Andy’s Chest”||1972|
|Dana Gillespie||“Andy Warhol”||1973|
|Fleetwood Mac||“Miles Away”||1973|
|Gilbert O’Sullivan||“You Are You”||1974|
|Human Sexual Response||“Jackie Onassis”||1980|
|The Teardrop Explodes||“Christ vs. Warhol”||1981|
|Foetus||“New York or Bust!”||1981|
|Television Personalities||“Painting By Numbers”||1982|
|Falco||"Manner Des Westens/Any Kind Of Land"||1985|
|The Dead Milkmen||"Instant Club Hit (You'll Dance to Anything)"||1987|
|The Cult||"Edie (Ciao Baby)"||1989|
|Tin Machine||"I Can't Read"||1989|
|Lou Reed & John Cale||The “Songs for Drella” album (15 songs)||1990|
|Television Personalities||“All My Dreams are Dead”||1990|
|Crowded House||“Chocolate Cake”||1991|
|The Times||“My Andy Warhol Poster”||1994|
|Urban Dance Squad||“Selfstyled”||1994|
|Stone Temple Pilots||“Art School Girl”||1996|
|Sugarplum Fairies||“Fifteen Minutes”||1998|
|Simple Minds||"Killing Andy Warhol"||1998|
|Lee Ann Womack||“Something Worth Leaving Behind”||2002|
|Marrianne Faithfull||“Song for Nico”||2002|
|Les Sans Culottes||“Apollinaire”||2002|
|Berlin||“All I Ever Need”||2002|
|Barenaked Ladies||“Upside Down”||2003|
|The Thrills||“Whatever Happened to Corey Haim”||2004|
|Slapshot||“F**k New York”||2005|
|The Happy Mondays||“Anti-Warhole on the Dancefloor”||2007|
|Q-Tip||“Dance on Glass”||2008|
|Little Joy||"How to Hang a Warhol"||2008|
|David Byrne & Fatboy Slim featuring Sharon Jones||“Dancing Together”||2009|
|Jay-Z & Kid Cudi||“Already Home”||2009|
|Jay-Z & Kanye West||“Illest Motherf**ker Alive”||2011|
|Robbie Robertson||“When the Night Was Young”||2011|
|Madonna||“I F**ked Up”||2012|
|Tyga (feat. Nas & Wale)||“Kings & Queens”||2012|
|Beyonce (feat. Jay-Z)||“Drunk in Love”||2013|
|Leaf (w/ Action Bronson)||“Sugar Mama”||2013|
|Alakaline Trio||“I Wanna Be A Warhol”||2013|
|Pusha T (feat: Beanie Sigel)||“Keep Dealing”||2015|
|Jonathan Richman||“They Showed Me the Door to Bohemia”||2015|
|Kaytranada feat. Anderson .Paak||“Glowed Up”||2016|
|Sharon Needles||"Andy Warhol Is Dead"||2017|
|Pusha T (feat. Rick Ross)||“Hard Piano”||2018|
*Certainly, coming up with a completely comprehensive list of songs that mention Warhol is next to impossible, and although we feel pretty confident about this list, if there are any glaring omissions, please let us know. List current as of July, 2018.
For more on Andy Warhol and Music, including our award-winning one-hour documentary, go to wyep.org/warhol