It's likely the average person can name only one architect, and that it's Frank Lloyd Wright, who died 53 years ago today.
Born in a small Wisconsin farming town, Wright would grow up to have an amazing impact on the world of construction and housing. His work aimed to harmonize buildings with their surroundings in a perfect melding of nature and artifice. This is best shown in the famous Fallingwater house pictured above.
Houstonians can get a firsthand glimpse at Wright's trademark style by visiting 12020 Tall Oaks St. The private Spring Branch home was commissioned by William L. Thaxton and completed in 1954. It's not easy to get a good look at the house from the street, but it does show up on Google Maps fairly well.
Or you could just visit Swamplot to see an amazing gallery of the structure when it was put up for sale in 2010.
Such a towering figure of art was destined to inspire some musical tributes. Here are five songs that do so.
Sparks, "When I Kiss You (I Hear Charlie Parker Playing):" Sparks is one of those bands that you one day realize is the basis of almost all excellent modern music. "When I Kiss You" isn't their best tune, but as far as love songs you could get a lot worse than comparing your love to brilliant sax solos and the elegant modern shape of Wright's work. It's not going to replace "Brick House" in that category or anything, but it's a solid second place.
Paul Simon, "So Long Frank Lloyd Wright": 1970 wasn't a great year for Simon & Garfunkel. Though Bridge Over Troubled Water was a massive hit, the deteriorating personal relationship with the two artists finally reached the point of no return, and split up shortly afterwards. Garfunkel specifically requested "Frank Lloyd Wright" as a tribute to the architect, but Simon instead wrote a song about the end of their musical partnership, with Garfunkel -- himself a former architecture student -- standing in for Wright in all but name.
Jesus Christ Superstar cast, "Hosanna": We're not going to lie to you; we're reaching with this one. Hosanna was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's personal favorite expressions. He famously said, "Hosanna! A client!" after he finally secured a commission following a long dry spell of non-work.
Rush, "Tom Sawyer": Speaking of dissidents who challenged the status quo, let's talk about one of the great characters of literature that owes his creation to Wright. Howard Roark was the barely fictionalized version of Wright that Ayn Rand used as her protagonist in her novel The Fountainhead. Rush, big Rand fans that they are, have sung many songs about her books, and "Tom Sawyer" most resembles the brilliant, unbending mind and artistic integrity of Roark.
Sufjan Stevens, "Come on Feel the Illinois": Sufjan Stevens is one of the more original voices of the last decade, easily maneuvering the thin line between experimental exploration and pop accessibility. His 2005 album Illinois was inspired by the city of Chicago itself, and he sadly laments "What would Frank Lloyd Wright say?" of the dismal design of some of its buildings.
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