Saturday, May 17, 2008

Madness as Muse

Much is written about artists and madness. I'm reading about Alice Neel's breakdown and her time spent in a psychiatric hospital in Collecting Souls, Gathering Dust, by Gerald and Margaret Belcher, and I am about to start reading The Unknown Night: The Genius and Madness of R.A.Blakelock by Glyn Vincent.
And speaking of Vincent, and Madness, here are the lyrics to Joni Mitchell's Turbulent Indigo, title track from her 1994 CD.

(Evidently the phrase "turbulent indigo" was how Van Gogh described his madness).

You wanna make Van Goghs

Raise 'em up like sheep

Make 'em out of Eskimos

And women if you please

Make 'em nice and normal

Make 'em nice and neat

You see him with his shotgun there?

Bloodied in the wheat?

Oh what do you know about

Living in Turbulent Indigo?

Brash fields, crude crows

In a scary sky...

In a golden frame

Roped off

Tourists guided by ...

Tourists talking about the madhouse

Talking about the ear

The madman hangs in fancy homes

They wouldn't let him near!

He'd piss in their fireplace!

He'd drag them through Turbulent Indigo

"I'm a burning hearth," he said

"People see the smoke

But no one comes to warm themselves

Sloughing off a coat

And all my little landscapes

All my yellow afternoons

Stack up around this vacancy

Like dirty cups and spoons

No mercy Sweet Jesus!

No mercy from Turbulent Indigo."

top 3 pics:

Tim Roth as Van Gogh in Robert Altman's 1990 film, Vincent and Theo.

bottom 3 pics:

Kirk Douglas as Van Gogh in Vincent Minnelli's 1956 film, Lust for Life.

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