Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Picasso's Last Words

When we consider the legacy of Pablo Picasso, we immediately think of masterpieces like Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Guernica and innumerable others which grace the walls of art galleries all over the world. The influence of his ground-breaking cubist work has resonated across many spheres – from architecture (cubism directly inspired the Art Deco movement of the 1920s), to sculpture (his eclectic style demolished the accepted centuries-old techniques, paving the way for modern-day artists like Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst), to fashion (cubist fabric patterns are now ubiquitous, appearing everywhere from high street to high-end fashion).

But what about Picasso’s influence on music? Although there is not an obvious connection between the two, the Spanish artist did leave his mark on pop music, through the medium of a certain singer/songwriter from Liverpool...

On 8th April 1973, as he and his wife entertained guests at a dinner party, Picasso died of a sudden heart attack. He was 91 years old. Moments before his death, he uttered these final, poignant words:

“Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink anymore.”
Halfway across the world, Paul McCartney was having dinner with Dustin Hoffman, when the actor told him the news of Picasso’s death. Upon hearing the artist’s last words, McCartney was immediately inspired. Picking up his guitar, he began to write a melody to accompany them. The resulting song, Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me) was featured on the 1973 triple-platinum-selling album Band on the Run. Although never released as a single, Picasso’s Last Words is widely regarded as one of the stand-out songs on the album.

And so it transpired - Picasso’s swan song became immortalized in a Wings song. The worlds of art, music and film collided to produce this tribute - an appropriate homage to a great man, who continued to inspire until he drew his very last breath.

Self Portrait, 1907
Dove of Peace, 1949

P.S. Check out the video on youtube - it's worth a watch!

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