The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) 2014, ink with touches of gouache
on A4-sized Khadi paper. Collection: Maitland Regional Art Gallery, NSW.
The drawing reproduced above marks a momentary return to silhouette imagery. It was made late last year, in response to a brief from Jo Eisenberg, Cultural Director of Maitland Regional Art Gallery in NSW and curator of a forthcoming exhibition in which invited artists were asked make a work on paper based on this song by Tom Waites:
The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)
The piano has been drinking, my necktie is asleep
And the combo went back to New York, the jukebox has to take a leak
And the carpet needs a haircut, and the spotlight looks like a prison break
And the telephone's out of cigarettes, and the balcony is on the make
And the piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking...
And the menus are all freezing, and the light man's blind in one eye
And he can't see out of the other
And the piano-tuner's got a hearing aid, and he showed up with his mother
And the piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking
As the bouncer is a Sumo wrestler cream-puff casper milquetoast
And the owner is a mental midget with the I.Q. of a fence post
'Cause the piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking...
And you can't find your waitress with a Geiger counter
And she hates you and your friends and you just can't get served without her
And the box-office is drooling, and the bar stools are on fire
And the newspapers were fooling, and the ash-trays have retired
'Cause the piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking, not me, not me, not me, not me, not me...
Tom Waites (1977)
For those unfamiliar with the song, I recommend the link below; the words and music are best savoured in unison, especially when performed by its inestimable composer:
Although Waite's crazy, hallucinogenic lyric draws word pictures that are worthy of Magritte, I haven't attempted to illustrate the song. My work is drawn from the mental picture that was summoned like a genie from a bottle the first time I played the song. The stiff necked protagonist’s starched collar and tightly buttoned dress recall the pleasure-shunning Puritans. Her "bonnet", however, takes the form of a piano. This is a Puritan in denial; despite herself, it seems she is more in tune with the drunken piano.
The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) is one of eight works on paper exhibitions at MRAG, collectively titled JUST PAPER, that will run concurrently between 2 May and 22 June. For full details, go HERE.