June 27, 2005

Musical Meanings Monday

What’s it mean, music maniacs?

Paint It Black - The Rolling Stones (excerpt)

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
Posted by James at June 27, 2005 9:20 AM
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He's depressed about a breakup and he wants other people to feel as depressed as he does.

Posted by: Julie at June 27, 2005 9:31 AM

I've never heard this song, but it sure sounds like grief and lamentation over death to me.

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black

Sounds like someone who doesn't really want to go on living to me. Wants everything to fade to black. Why?

I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

When he sees girls in summer clothes (i.e. abbreviated clothing) he has to look away because his "darkness" comes. Ladies in attractive summerwear remind him of something he doesn't want to think about. Or someone.

I see a line of cars and theyíre all painted black
With flowers and my love both never to come back

A long line of black cars, flowers, and his love who is never coming back. Sounds like a funeral to me.

I see people turn their heads and quickly look away

Again, a funereal image. Normally people don't want to look grief right in the face. They look away.

Like a new born baby it just happens evíry day

People die every day, just as people are born every day.

I look inside myself and see my heart is black

Heartbroken. Heartsick with grief.

I see my red door and it has been painted black

I don't know what "my red door" symbolizes, if anything, but it could be many things. The door to his home, bedroom, heart, whatever. I'm going to guess that the door refers to the future... the future holds nothing for him now, and so he paints the door black.

Maybe then Iíll fade away and not have to face the facts
Itís not easy faciní up when your whole world is black

Doesn't want to deal with this loss, to face up to it, to accept it.

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

It was an unexpected death? One he could not foresee? Previous line implies that the person who has passed on gave "depth" and meaning to his life. Without her, his life is shallow and meaningless... no deeper blue.

If I look hard enough into the settiní sun
My love will laugh with me before the morniní comes

See you in heaven after I die.

Posted by: Chuck S. at June 27, 2005 10:51 AM

Y'know Julie, that's interesting. Maybe it is about a breakup.

The long line of black cars with flowers and his love never coming back could be a wedding. The love of his life marrying someone else.

Or it could simply be symbolic death--a "she's out of my life now as if she were dead" kind of thing.

Posted by: Chuck S. at June 27, 2005 10:58 AM

It hadn't occurred to me that she was dead, actually. Huh. I think that makes more sense.

Posted by: Julie at June 27, 2005 11:18 AM

Musical Meanings Monday is back by popular (OK - Sara D. said she missed it) demand.

Chuck - I imagine you've heard this song before and didn't realize it or don't remember. Thanks for you interpretation.

I admit I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to knowledge of famous bands and the stories behind their songs. I know a little bit here and there, but nothing like the average rock enthusiast. And few bands are as well known as the Rolling Stones. I know Julie is a fan.

So I'm approaching these at face value. But if anyone has insight to share, it's welcome!

I like both of the above interpretations: death and a breakup. There is a lot in common between the two. Someone is going out of your life.

A third interpretation (although I don't think the Stones meant it this way) might simply be depression. Again, depression can certainly be tied to a loss (clinical depression, of course, is the longer lasting, less clear variety).

Experiencing depression can make you feel like the color and the flavor of the world has all drained out of it. You see things that previously made you happy and you feel nothing. In that state of mind you might even wish that you couldn't see the colors anymore, because they simply remind you of a feeling that you no longer have and don't know how to regain.

Posted by: James at June 27, 2005 11:37 AM

For a long time, thanks to a hard-to-kill, self-replicating typo, the song was "Paint It, Black" which led some to believe there was a racial component to the song's meaning. But sometimes a typo is just a typo.

Posted by: Julie at June 27, 2005 11:59 AM

I scouted about the 'net briefly and I think I saw a site that quoted Mick Jagger saying the song was about depression.

Maybe the funereal or breakup imagery is beside the point, the realy point is how the singer feels... when we flow in grief, we do not seek happiness. I can relate to that wanting to blot out the sun and paint everything black.

Posted by: Chuck S. at June 27, 2005 12:48 PM

I was going to write something along the lines of what Chuck wrote. I like the death imagery interpretation. I wouldn't have been as thorough as he was, though. :)

Posted by: briwei at June 27, 2005 2:07 PM

Ah that's nothing, you should have seen the breakdown I did for Stairway to Heaven a couple weeks back. That had to be twice as long. Terminally longwinded, me.

Posted by: Chuck S. at June 27, 2005 2:56 PM

I saw it. Just didn't have time to comment on it. I only get an hour for lunch. ;-)

Posted by: briwei at June 28, 2005 1:05 AM

i think this person is sick,mentally. if you listen to the song, mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, sounds so crazy like, evil. maybe he has bad thoughts about hurting girls in summer clothes, maybe a killer, hence, the funeral and society looking away from it all, it happens everyday, just like birth

Posted by: melissa at July 10, 2005 8:08 AM

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