Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones Lyrics Meaning – Exploring the Shadows of the Psyche


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for The Rolling Stones's Paint It Black at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning

Lyrics

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore, I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

I see a line of cars and they’re all painted black
With flowers and my love, both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a new born baby, it just happens every day

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door, I must have it painted black
Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts
It’s not easy facing up, when your whole world is black

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not foresee this thing happening to you

If I look hard enough into the settin’ sun
My love will laugh with me before the mornin’ comes

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore, I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm
Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm
Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm
Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm

I wanna see it painted, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black
Yeah

Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm
Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm
Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm
Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm

Full Lyrics

Released in 1966 as a part of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Aftermath’ album, ‘Paint It Black’ strikes chords that are nothing short of haunting. At first listen, its sitar-driven riff, a product of Brian Jones’ fascination with Eastern instruments, introduces layers of sound that would mark a departure from the typical rock of the day. The Stones weren’t just pushing musical boundaries—they were exploring the darker corners of the human psyche.

The enigmatic lyrics penned by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, crooned with a visceral sincerity by Jagger, convey a sense of loss and despair so profound that it seems to swallow all color from the world. From the very first lines, listeners are pulled into a vortex of grief that begs for the outward manifestation of an inner void. What follows is an attempt to decipher the deeper meanings veiled within this iconic work, a song that feels just as relevant today as it did over half a century ago.

The Carousel of Melancholy – Dissecting the Psychedelic Sound

The song’s eastern influences, pioneered by Jones’ use of the sitar, blend with traditional rock elements to create a psychedelic sound that resonates with the disarray of emotions lurking within the lyrics. It’s a whirlwind of sorrow expressed sonically—each note and strum tugging at the listeners’ heartstrings, beckoning them to whirl in the dance of someone trapped in the throes of despair. The auditory hallucination of the sitar becomes more than just an exotic touch; it’s the pulse of anguish personified.

‘Paint It Black’ sounds almost funereal, dominated by the dread-laced beats of Charlie Watts’ drums and Bill Wyman’s driving bass line. The instruments coalesce to form a lament, a musical epitaph that simmers with a rage against the inevitable, a defiant scream in the face of loss and the futile attempts to escape its clutches.

Through a Glass, Darkly – The Hidden Meaning Revealed

The narrative woven by Jagger’s potent voice in ‘Paint It Black’ speaks to more than just personal grief—it’s a reflection of a collective disillusionment. Amidst the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, the song seems to capture a generational awakening, a mourning over lost innocence and the brutal confrontation with reality. The color black serves as a metaphor for this disillusionment, a wish to obliterate the overwhelming presence of pain through the eradication of all hues.

The color imagery intensifies when Jagger sings ‘No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue,’ suggesting a resignation to a world where even the vibrancy of nature is subject to the numbing effects of grief. The lament evolves from the personal to the existential, highlighting how thoroughly heartache can consume our perceptions.

Shattered Chromatism – On Love, Loss, and the Colorless Void

Central to the song is a vulnerability expressed through the symbolism of color. The once vibrant scenes of daily life are now tainted with a dark brush. In ‘seeing a red door’ and wanting it ‘painted black,’ the speaker rejects the notion of an entrance to something new, a potential for renewal, instead opting for the comfort of oblivion.

His desire to ‘see the sun blotted out from the sky’ mirrors an inner turmoil so intense that it warrants a cosmic intervention—a shared reaction to the challenges of existence. It’s a cry not just to dim the lights but to extinguish them altogether, baring a wish for the cessation of the sensory overload that is life’s ever-persistent palette.

The Memorabilia of Melancholia – Iconic Verses That Captivate

Jagger’s refrain of ‘I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes’ lingers in the conscience of listeners as he describes avertin’g his gaze. The drudgery of continuing life among the unaffected, while in the throes of despair, underscores a poignant and isolating aspect of grief. This line captures the essence of the numbness that accompanies loss, the despairing sense of isolation that sees companionship as a summer’s day—an unreachable, sunlit memory.

Furthermore, when Jagger whispers ‘Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm,’ there’s an air of resignation, as if words can no longer express the depth of despondency. The simplicity of this hum belies a complexity of emotion, containing volumes in a murmur, and extending an invitation to the listener to vocalize their unutterable sorrows in unison.

The Song’s Lingering Echo – Its Enduring Place in Music History

As the last notes fade into the annals of iconic rock history, ‘Paint It Black’ remains a masterclass in channeling dark emotions into auditory art. Its subject matter has ensured its relevance over the decades, as every generation discovers its own set of sorrows to paint with the Stones’ black brush.

The track’s presence in pop culture, from movie soundtracks to video games, reinforces its role as a touchstone for exploring existential pain and the human condition. By fusing Eastern musical influences with Western rock, The Rolling Stones created not just a hit song, but a cultural artifact, crafting a shared space for the contemplation and catharsis of grief—an enduring legacy as timeless as the band itself.

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