"Magritte" as written by and John Davies Cale....
I forgotten how often we saw Magritte
He's been much on my mind these days
Often we saw Magritte
Inside a canvas of blue saturated with beauty
In a web of glass
Pinned to the edges of vision

There's a car-horn in the street outside
And a museum with its windows open
Often we saw Magritte
Running with the legends of conspicuous men
And how often we forgot Magritte
How we remembered him then
And worshiped at his feet
Pinned to the edges of vision

Somebody's coming that hates us
Better watch the art
Upstairs there's a canvas stretched
For umbrellas and bowler hats
Everybody knows Rene did that
Often we saw Magritte
Pinned to the edges of vision
Often we saw Magritte
We all know Rene did that
Often we saw Magritte

Lyrics submitted by Greyshoes

"Magritte" as written by John Davies Cale


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Magritte song meanings
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  • +2
    My InterpretationI don't expect this is in any way the composer's intent, but the ominous tone and the way the lyrics hit my ears, I hear a heist in the making.

    After the first verse establishes tone and language, the second verse uses the same kind of language to describe the highly suspicious situation of an open window at a museum, with a car waiting outside. Artists are legendary and conspicuous, but so are art thieves. Which legend are we aspiring to here?

    The third verse reiterates danger, particularly danger to the art. Then there's the line that immediately twigged me as a double meaning, regarding the canvas upstairs: "Everybody knows Rene did that." The canvas is stretched for umbrellas and bowler hats, but it doesn't say the canvas contains those items yet. And if you forge them carefully enough, everybody knows Rene did that... whether he did that particular canvas or not.

    When I first heard this song, I was reading about Alexander the Great and thinking hard about how fame and glory interact with private realities, how sometimes the idea of a thing is more powerful than the thing itself. The subject of this song is an artist who drew a picture of a pipe with the caption "This is not a pipe," which is accurate, because it's really a picture. He also made a living as a forger for a while. I think it's fair to consider how knowing a painting was painted by someone famous affects our opinion of its quality.
    gementon January 27, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI took a course in modern art and after we studied about Magritte I played this song to my lecturer. She enjoyed it so much she said she will get the album! I love Cale's connection to art- it's so genuine and insired.
    Birdyon January 22, 2005   Link

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