"Artists Only" as written by and David/zieve Byrne....
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I'm painting, I'm painting again
I'm painting, I'm painting again
I'm cleaning, I'm cleaning again
I'm cleaning, I'm cleaning my brain

Pretty soon now, I will be bitter
Pretty soon now, will be a quitter
Pretty soon now, I will be bitter
You can't see it 'til it's finished

I don't have to prove that I am creative
I don't have to prove that I am creative
All my pictures are confused
And now I'm going to take me to you


Lyrics submitted by boka

"Artists Only" as written by Wayne Zieve David Byrne

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Artists Only song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +6
    Song MeaningI think this song is about Buildings or Food...
    Coffeewolf77on July 12, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis song most likely relates to Byrne's art school days at the Rhode Island School of Design. The lines "I'm cleaning...I'm cleaning my brain" refers to the transfer of ones ideas to something like a painting, music, etc.--cleaning out ideas. The second verse is the frustration after using up the ideas and being left with a "clean" brain. He throws in "You can't see it 'til it's finished" because it is a very common phrase among artists (I know. I go to Savannah College of Art and Design...but I won't be dropping out to start an AWESOME band :p ). The thought of being seen incomplete (the art piece or the person) is very stressful.
    "All my pictures are confused." He, himself is a confused mess. "And now I'm going to take me to you." He's going to impose his thoughts, etc on others (through art/music?).

    Yeah...
    morlando86on June 26, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Commentoh man this was one of my favorites for years.

    the lyrics are incredibly simple but i'd imagine its a lighthearted criticism of the pretentiousness of some artsy/free-spirited folks.

    the lines "I don't have to prove...that I am creative!" and "You can't see it 'til it's finished" certainly seem sarcastic and mocking of the artist's arrogant attitude. great song.
    iwannabeahipsteron June 30, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWell, at the risk of sounding a bit uh... insensitive...
    I love how David Byrne sings like a retard throughout this song. I wish I had been around when the Talking Heads were just putting out their albums, just so I could see how people reacted to their unconventionality.
    SpooktheHerdon April 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHey SpooktheHerd,
    I was around then. Saw them in Austin in the late 70's, "Psycho Killer" was already out and I think "Warning Sign" was too. We caught them at the Armadillo. Anyway, I came away almost feeling scared....like, geez, they let this guy out? He was definately a different sort of dude. Not really spastic but moved his neck out really far and turned his head in this weird, David Lynch-esque kinda way. He was certainly a visual as well as vocal performer.
    doodadon March 09, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think Morlando (above) is right on. This is David Byrne's song about art theory. The early Talking Heads were truly a college band - you can listen to songs about the things you are learning in class.
    moikon January 26, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentartists are what they fear most. being hacks. that's what this is "about"
    artsluton January 06, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFor Artist's Only (original name) was on the album More Songs about Buildings and Food. The lyrics were not written by David Byrne. They were written by Mike Zieve (or Wayne Zieve on the credits). Mike also gave the Talking Heads their name, which he pulled out of something he saw on TV. I don't remember the details. Mike was a friend of the band at both RISDI (Rhode Island School of Design) and in New York. Mike is a painter (artist) who I went to college with in Chicago. He currently lives in California. Interestingly enough, Mike was also good friends with Jeff Koons. Mike had a very hip, contemporary outlook. This song is about ART from the outlook of an Artist and it is FOR ARTIST"S ONLY....LOL.
    Balloondogon April 06, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThe myth of the crazed artist who is impelled to create in a cathartic crisis of artistic activity. The modernist misconception of art/artists. The cult of artist as Dionysian other, as psychotic genius, as misunderstood victim of society, all of these are modernist myths (and they deserve de-bunking).

    Also a jab at the elitist cult of artistic creativity, which tells us that artists are SPECIAL because they have to compulsively CREATE which makes them holy and incomprehensible beings who are not subject to the normal rules of the social order.
    NomadMonadon January 31, 2017   Link

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