WYEP explores the connection between Andy Warhol and music.

As we observe the 90th anniversary of Warhol's birth on August 6, 2018, we decided to take a look back at how the legendary art icon and Pittsburgh native interacted with music, whether as a cover art designer, music impresario, music video producer, and as an inspiration to many songwriters over the years. Listen to WYEP on August 6th at 7 PM to hear an exploration of Warhol's connection to music and musicians. Below you'll find some of Warhol's album artwork, music videos he directed, clips from his MTV show, and an extensive list of songs that make reference to Warhol. 

 Warhol Videos

| "Warhol in Song" list

 

 
00:00

Warhol designed the cover art for a wide variety of albums, both in his pre-fame days as a commercial artist as well as after he became a household name with his pop art. Below is an interactive display of 25 of the albums he designed or ones that were based on his art. (In the case of the 1984 self-titled release by The Smiths, the cover art was designed by The Smiths' Morrissey using an image from Warhol's 1968 movie Flesh. The 1986 Debbie Harry album was designed by Stephen Sprouse using a Warhol screen-print as its background.) 

 

Mouse over each cover to see the artist, title, and year of release. (on mobile devices, tap the cover)

 

Hear WYEP's special on Warhol and music on Monday, August 6th from 7 to 8 PM.

 

 

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.

 
Here's the rest of the list...*
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
Elliot Murphy “Hollywood” 1975
Ulltravox “Artificial Life” 1977
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
Maureen Tucker “Andy” 1989
ALL “Mary” 1989
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
Sloppy Seconds “Underground” 1993
The Times “My Andy Warhol Poster” 1994
Urban Dance Squad “Selfstyled” 1994
Gavin Friday “Caruso” 1995
Underworld “Oich Oich” 1996
Stone Temple Pilots “Art School Girl” 1996
Dan Bern “Estelle” 1997
Sugarplum Fairies “Fifteen Minutes” 1998
Simple Minds "Killing Andy Warhol" 1998
Queensryche “Revolution Calling” 2001
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
Van Morrison "Fame" 2003
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
Jay-Z “Ain’t I” 2008
David Byrne & Fatboy Slim featuring Sharon Jones “Dancing Together” 2009
Jay-Z & Kid Cudi “Already Home” 2009
Danny Brown “DNA” 2011
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
Rick Ross “Burn” 2012
Joseph Arthur "Kandinsky" 2012
Beyonce (feat. Jay-Z) “Drunk in Love” 2013
Jay-Z “Picasso Baby” 2013
Leaf (w/ Action Bronson) “Sugar Mama” 2013
Alakaline Trio “I Wanna Be A Warhol” 2013
MIKA “Good Guys” 2015
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