Aural Fixations, the Rumpus Mixtape #8: Van Gogh



Van Gogh … beauty that breaks your heart.

Vincent painting images that he had to view through the bars of the asylum.  Vincent eating his paints.Writing all those hundreds of letters to his brother Theo, writing “First I dream my paintings then I paint my dream.” The ear thing.  Named after his stillborn brother, he was dead at 37.  All those masterpieces, painted in only 10 years.

The sunflower series, painted to decorate the room he made for Gaugain while waiting for Gaugain to visit him in Arles. Loving the prostitutes, sharing his food with them. Kicked out of the ministry because he refused to live in the parsonage, opting instead to  reside with the coal miners he was sent to assist.  Crows. Wheat fields. Self-portraits. He didn’t romanticize being poor, he wanted to earn a living from his art, that sometimes gets lost in the mythos. He lived his life in frequent despair, yet inspires hope in so many artists, and encourages them to follow their passions. He’s the punch line — no matter how messed up your life might seem, you aren’t as crazed as Van Gogh; no matter how much you are sacrificing on behalf of your art, it’s not as much as Vincent.  The moral of the Van Gogh story?  Imagine, dream, persevere, work harder than you thought you could work, and, in the end, paint your own sky.


“Visions of Johanna”

Bob Dylan

Blonde On Blonde


“Our Swords”

Band of Horses

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [Deluxe Edition]


“My Blue Heaven”

Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra

Swingsation: Jimmie Lunceford


“It’s Oh So Quiet”




“A Letter to Elise”

The Cure

Paris (Live)


“Vincent Van Gogh”

Jonathan Richman

Not So Much to Be Loved As to Love


“Bridges and Balloons”

Joanna Newsom

The Milk-Eyed Mender


“Flowers in December”

Mazzy Star

Among My Swan


“Rebel Rebel”

David Bowie

Diamond Dogs


“Polish Girl”

Neon Indian

Era Extraña



Sam Behymer





Every Scene Needs a Center



“Stay Alive”

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart

Anna March’s writing appears regularly in Salon and here at the Rumpus and her work has been widely published including in The New York Times' Modern Love Column, New York Magazine, VQR, Hip Mama and Tin House. Her essay collection, Feminist Killjoy, and novel, The Diary of Suzanne Frank, are both forthcoming and she is at work on two new books. She teaches writing workshops, mentors writers, is active in promoting literary community and is the co-founder of LITFOLKS in LA and DC. She lives in Rehoboth Beach and Los Angeles. Sometimes she has pink hair. Follow her on Twitter @ANNAMARCH or learn more about her at ANNAMARCH.COM. More from this author →