Sky Blue And Black

Album: I'm Alive (1993)


  • Browne's relationship with actress Daryl Hannah came to an end about a year before this song was released, and she's clearly an inspiration on the lyric, which covers a range of emotions, including severe longing:

    You're the hidden cost and the thing that's lost
    In everything I do
    Yeah and I'll never stop looking for you
    In the sunlight and the shadows

    Browne wrote the song over a period of four years and in "lots of different states of the relationship."
  • "I was trying to write something in the vein of Van Morrison's cascading cadences and images," Browne told Mojo in 1997. "I wrote the first part and tried to answer the questions it raised later on. It wasn't until I knew more about what was going on in my life that I completed it."
  • The I'm Alive album was a very personal one for Browne, in stark contrast to his previous studio album, World In Motion, released four years earlier. That album dealt with politics and world events - topics he put aside for I'm Alive, which deals with interpersonal relationships.
  • Browne never wanted his songs pegged to his specific life events, so he rarely spoke about his real-life relationships, especially in context with his music. "It's a drag to even imagine that people are thinking about that relationship instead of their own lives," he told the Los Angeles Times. "I think if a song is any good, eventually it'll turn out to be about the life of the listener and not about the life of the writer. Anyway, that's my hope."
  • This was used in the very first episode of Friends, "The One Where Monica Gets a Roommate," in 1994.

Comments: 28

  • Eric from San FranciscoAlong with the Beatles, Jackson is by far my favorite artist. Late for the Sky is my #1 album. The I'm Alive album is somewhat of a return, stylistically. As far as this song, I mean, who really knows, but it is fairly evident that much of this album is about the break up with Daryl Hannah, particularly in the first and last songs. I'm Alive would seem to be his anger at her; Sky Blue and Black is, I think, seems to be his post-anger assessment, just looking back with hurt and regret, yet still wanting to be available to her. The reference to blue and black is I think his sarcastic comment about what he allegedly did; again, who really knows but them, but hitting her seems to be so totally out of character with everything JB has been about for the 45 or so years I have followed him. For what my opinions are worth.
  • Chris Hughes from Leicester UkLouis from Ohio says he knows Browne didn't assault Hannah and so does just about everyone else. The thing is, no one actually KNOWS, apart from them. She's never publicly denied it, and he's never explained it.

    Sky Black And Blue is a beautiful song with seemingly sincere, yearning lyrics, but if it's about Hannah, you've got to wonder about blue and black/black and blue.

    (My two-pence-worth on the Browne-Hannah who-dunnit is at:
  • Mario from Jersey City, UtThis is more to do about Lowell George, not Daryl Hannah. Although this can be applied to romantic love, it is also about deep and abiding friendships from people who passed away and are no longer with us. So not just about a breakup or a separation/divorce, but also about losing someone through death, to include those of the same gender who are not gay (like a parent or sibling, a special friend of either sex). Jackson wrote a song called "Of Missing Persons", also about L. George, and this has tie-ins to him - Jackson's friendship with Lowell as well. Jackson explains more about this song in his intro to it on his live solo album. It has nothing to do with his relationship with Ms. Hannah. Also, he was no made, raving abuser of her, in fact Daryl has refused to ever denigrate Jackson since their breakup, so that says a lot about the veracity of its disfunction. He was never so bad that he should be looked down upon, Daryl won't even ever do that, in spite of what did or did not happen.
  • Guy from Paris, Franceso many great comments here.. I too have been a fan of Jackson since The Pretender..then I went back to discover all that came before... such a treat when that happens! One thing about Jackson is that he always seems to capture that moment in my life. When this song came out I had just ended the greatest love affair of my life and was in denial. And there he was again, right on time !
  • Blair from Norwich, United KingdomProbably the "truest" song ever
  • Alex from New York, NySky Blue and Black is as close to perfect as a song can be (for me anyway). It sums up that feeling you have when you lose the person who was meant to be the one - when you can't fix it as the relationship is beyond repair - but there is no anger/bitterness - just sorrow. It describes the conflict between the need to be free, and the need for love - and the fact that the price for that freedom is the other person forever.

    Some of my favourite lyrics:
    "The far too simple beauty of the promises we made"
    "You're the hidden cost and the thing that's lost in everything I do"

    Trully beautiful song.

  • Maryann from Warwick, RiThis is absolutely my favorite song because it reminded me of the search I was on to find my friend Patrick who lived in Ireland and moved to Canada. We lost touch and I was very sad and missed him. It wasn't until March of 2010 that I found him in Vancouver. Thank goodness for friends that we will always love. Jackson's songs are like this, a friend we will always love.
  • Carolyn from St Pete, FlJoel, the name of the album is "Jackson Browne".
  • Don from Aurora, OhThis is in my top say 3 songs ever! I have a signed copy of "Late For The Sky" in my office a friend of mine got for me at a benefit given BY Daryl Hanna after they split up!!! He told my friend he didn't like the picture of him on the back side. That should answer your question Pete, Birmingham, MI It seems she has been able to forgive him! I know that people can get control over that type of behavior as they get older and wiser. But it always haunts us...
  • Louis from Youngstown, OhHey Pete from Birmingham, about whether the song came to him when beating the daylights out of Daryl Hannah - think of the color imagery (in reverse): black and blue (as in bruises). Ahhh....well, of course, I know Jackson DIDN'T hit her (and so does just about everyone else - even JFK, Jr [before he died]) but I think it's hilarious that this is the color imagery he uses. Hands down one of the most beautiful songs he's ever written.
  • Kylie from Liverpool, EnglandAbsolutely fantastic song. If you listen to it when you're in a low place then it can really hit you.

    One of my all time favourites; so haunting.
  • Nicole from Massapequa, NyThe first time I really listened to these lyrics my heart literally ached. Lost love, deep regret, asking for forgiveness, understanding...and the fact that "the moment has passed by me now..." can re-break the heart of anyone who's been in his shoes.

  • Roger from Newfield, NjAfter 33 years I saw my high school sweetheart at a reunion. Instantly, I was broken hearted again and broke out the jackson brown. I wanted to hear "late for the sky" which is what I considered the best love song written. I listened to "sky blue and black" but moved on. After the second time it started to sink in. This song is easily the best song ever written about love lost. Honestly, I can't even listen to it. Maybe someday I'll be able to listen to it again.
  • Jim from Glasgow, ScotlandThe greatest song by the greatest songwriter of my lifetime.Sheer brilliance i.m.o.
  • Harry from Ayr, ScotlandI've been a big fan of Jackson Browne for more years than I care to remember. Across those years he has repeatedly stunned me with his ability to lay bare in such simple terms the deepest and most painful emotions the human heart can suffer. Additionally he never fails to find music that makes many of these songs so hauntingly beautiful. Sky blue and black takes him to a new high in terms of lyrical and musical quality following his own suffering at a new low and so many of us who can identify with this same low will feel as I do that this is a masterpiece that confirms that JB is probably the finest lyricist since Shakespeare.
  • Vernon from Trinidad, Wi, OtherThis is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. It has deep meaning for me. I see it as the true definition of love - Being there when needed. No questions asked.
  • Mark from Washington, D.c.I shared this sing with the only girl I ever really loved, and even today, it makes me misty. After all these years she remains "the hidden cost and the thing that's lost in EVERYthing I do"
  • Debi from Seattle, WaThis song haunts me, although I've been a fan over 20 years...he never ceases to amaze me with his ability to reach into the soul again and again...
  • Mary from Phoenix, AzMy ex used this song for a "remberance video" about his ex-wife's brother who died in a double suicide back in like 96. It was so sad. They ended up using the video for the gathering after the funeral. I never heard this song till then.
  • Joel from Kenilworth, NjI heard Jacksone Browne's first album (Saturate Before Using) some 35 years ago. I was a fan since that very day. He could always pull those strings, but this song tugs with every lover's lost love! It is simply magnificent.
  • Jo from Kaneohe, Himost people think of this song as reflective of a past relationship now gone, but i feel it is more of a universal beckoning to all of us, alluding to something we all had with each other.
  • Ej from Westerly, RiI love Luanne
  • Pete from Birmingham, MiI too think it's one of the most touching songs that i have ever heard. I've always wondered if these lyrics came to him when he was beating the daylights out of Daryl Hanna.
  • Ross from Independence, MoEveryone who likes Jackson Browne should also give a comment or two on Doctor My Eyes. Right now i am the only one who commented.
  • Sam from Boise, IdThis is one of the great love ballads of all time. It is also the most visceral, poignant, and cathartic songs in the universe.
  • Don from Dallas, TxJust another of the many great songs of Jackson Browne.
  • Peter from Montrose, DcOne of the most beautiful songs ever.
  • Mandi from Midwest, WiI've been a Jackson Browne fan since I first heard "Pretender", but I've just listened to "Sky Blue and Black" and don't think I've heard a more personal and emotional song. Jackson truly sounds like he's pouring this song out of his aching heart. Beautiful lyrics, beautiful melody. I can't stop playing this CD.
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