“Blue on Black” by Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s “Blue on Black” is a song based on the notion that if blue and black were mixed together, they would blend into one color, with black being dominant. Due to the generally negative terminology used throughout, many people have interpreted this song as being about a dysfunctional relationship, abuse or even death. 

However, Shepherd himself said the song was intended for listeners to derive their own meaning from the lyrics based on their individual perspectives. But as aforementioned, it’s hard not to conclude that “Blue on Black” has an overall pessimistic tone. And the philosophy being put forth, as alluded to earlier, is one stating that if you mix two things together, like “tears” and “a river”, it ultimately doesn’t mean much as the dominant force will overpower the weaker.

Shepherd's "Blue on Black" lyrics

“Blue on Black”

  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd worked with songwriter Mark Selby and his wife Tia Sillers to pen “Blue on Black”.
  • The production of this hit tune was overseen by record producer Jerry Harrison.
  • “Blue on Black” appears as the third track on Shepherd’s 1997 album named Trouble is…. Furthermore, this tune is featured on several of Shepherd’s compilation albums. They include, Double Shot of Blues (in 2001), Powered by Fender: The Players (in 2003), and Loaded With Hits (in 2000).
  • “Blue on Black” won the Rock Track of the Year at the 1998 Billboard Music Awards.
  • The American heavy metal band, Five Finger Death Punch, recorded a cover of this track on their 2018 album titled And Justice for None.

How did “Blue on Black” perform on the charts?

On the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, this song peaked at the 78th position. On the Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, it performed much better by reaching number 1.

18 Responses

  1. J.p. says:

    It is about dysfunctional relationships.to the point .the blue is ,well, the men in blue.thats an easy one.black do not get confused with the movie and Men in black. Because if you did you would be barking up the wrong tree.used to be that the fire cheif handled gun permits and reg..the dept of fire prevention and supressionsafety officersbuilding health and safety enforcement and regulations.are the black .firedept red and black! They rule over the pd. J.P. OUT WAS RECORDED AT FIREFIGHTERS UNION HALL BUILDING B ST HAYWARD CA.APROX 1978 JP.SHERIDAN GUITARIST LEAD SOLOS ALSO WAS THE LYRICEST AND VOCALS. IF ANY ONE ELSE THINKS I AM BS.WELL THEY CAN FILE A LAWSUIT. THEY CAN TRASH TALKALLTHEY WANT.BUT THEY WILL NOT.PRINT OR PUBLISH OR BROADCAST LIES AND KNOWINGLY FALSE STATEMENTS OF FACT.AFACT IS SUPPORTED BY SWORN STATEMENTS UNDER THE PENALTY OF PERJURY.TO THE COURT AND PUBLIC SO SAY I JOSRPH P. SHERIDAN

  2. jill levine says:

    I thought it was about abuse of cops against black people

  3. duh says:

    911, Mandalay Bay, Directed Energy fires in California, Boston Marathon bombing. Blue (cops) on Black (black ops -C_A) don’t mean a thing. Wake Up people. Local cops can’t fight the Deep State alone. DRAIN THE SWAMP.

  4. Joan says:

    Blue on black does not refer to police brutality on black people. If you mix blue and black big darker color overtakes the blue. So in the meaning to me is Evil will someday overtake the good in all men.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s why women should rule.

      • Joose says:

        Everyone sees things differently it’s called interpretation. So technically nobody’s wrong or right persay. To me it means simply Evil lurks everywhere, so watch yourself carefully

      • Audrey says:

        We’ve been shown over the last 20 yrs that there are plenty of evil women in this world. I worked for a woman once & lonce she gained that position of power it went straight to her head, so glad I only had to work for 1 in my career.

  5. Ernie says:

    Blue is the guy in the relationship , Black is his rotten cheating girlfriend.

  6. Anonymous says:

    J.P you spent all that time and still got it completely wrong. 😂

  7. Kim says:

    It means the stronger on the two will overpower and the weaker of the two will get consumed.

  8. Minnielou says:

    I must be the only one, who has replied that has always seen it totally different. I have always seen it as the loss of a loved one in a relationship. The person who lost someone so special that they did not understand that until it was too late. But I have always believed in the love of all men for each other. Other people’s views will never change mine.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Blue is the blues (the devils sadness-> a sadness but gives you strong to going on, the meaning of the blues) and black is the void, you see it but not walking on

  10. S Ross says:

    Thats how I took it also

  11. Rip Big Mac says:

    I lost my dad who didn’t have much to do with me. I was a stranger at his funeral to many. I heard this song on my way home and it it me! He turned and RAN. He left me and alone in the dark as a child. My skin was cold. My tears fell in the river. Now, my whispers ona scream don’t mean a thing…it all doesn’t bring him back. Its blue on black. Worthless. He’s gone

  12. Chris - Ithaca, NY says:

    A person in a relationship slipped away because of a wrongful slip of the tongue. Nothing can be done to change the outcome. Metaphorical weak attempts like blue, tears, match get overpowered by black, river, fire.

  13. Shane says:

    The lyrics are quite clear and provide a number of comparisons to bring home the point. To use the color blue on a black background, drop a tear into a river, or push on a shove it doesn’t result in meaningful and desired change. A match on a fire (already lit), Cold on Ice (already cold), whisper on a scream (the scream overpowers the whisper), Doesn’t change anything.

    For any meaningful change, it requires the exact opposite. Further, if we examine the earlier part of the chorus with the latter, we can start to see additional comparisons: tear-match, river-fire, push-whisper, shove-scream. Each of them, if we look at them collective are potentially opposites. A tear can put out a match, if there is black, there is no fire (light), a river can be used to put out a fire, a push is sufficient to silence a whisper (get one’s attention), and a shove is required to silence a scream (or a group of people required to restore order such as police).

    The video contrasts the acts of first responders, police, and fire fighters with that of chaos and helps to clarify that in order to restore society, we must be exactly opposite that of the unruly and chaotic. Instead, we must represent order and self-controlled to use a push, a shove, a tear or a river only to restore order.

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