Paint It Black

Album: Aftermath (U.S.) (1966)
Charted: 1 1


  • This is written from the viewpoint of a person who is depressed; he wants everything to turn black to match his mood. There was no specific inspiration for the lyrics. When asked at the time why he wrote a song about death, Mick Jagger replied: "I don't know. It's been done before. It's not an original thought by any means. It all depends on how you do it."
  • The song seems to be about a lover who died:

    "I see a line of cars and they're all painted black" - The hearse and limos.

    "With flowers and my love both never to come back" - The flowers from the funeral and her in the hearse. He talks about his heart being black because of his loss.

    "I could not foresee this thing happening to you" - It was an unexpected and sudden death.

    "If I look hard enough into the setting sun, my love will laugh with me before the morning comes" - This refers to her in Heaven. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Daryn - Mays Landing, NJ
  • The Rolling Stones wrote this as a much slower, conventional soul song. When Bill Wyman began fooling around on the organ during the session doing a takeoff of their original as a spoof of music played at Jewish weddings. Co-manager Eric Easton (who had been an organist), and Charlie Watts joined in and improvised a double-time drum pattern, echoing the rhythm heard in some Middle Eastern dances. This new more upbeat rhythm was then used in the recording as a counterpoint to the morbid lyrics.
  • On this track, Stones guitarist Brian Jones played the sitar, which was introduced to pop music by The Beatles on their 1965 song Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown). Jones made good television by balancing the instrument on his lap during appearances.
  • Keith Richards explained how this song came together: "We were in Fiji for about three days. They make sitars and all sorts of Indian stuff. Sitars are made out of watermelons or pumpkins or something smashed so they go hard. They're very brittle and you have to be careful how you handle them. We had the sitars, we thought we'd try them out in the studio. To get the right sound on 'Paint It Black' we found the sitar fitted perfectly. We tried a guitar but you can't bend it enough." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • This was used as the theme song for Tour Of Duty, a CBS show about the Vietnam War that ran from 1987-1989.
  • On the single, there is a comma before the word "black" in the title, rendering it, "Paint It, Black." This of course changes the context, implying that a person named "Black" is being implored to paint. While some fans interpreted this as a statement on race relations, it's far more likely that the rogue comma was the result of a clerical error, something not uncommon in the '60s.
  • Mick Jagger on the song's psychedelic sound: "That was the time of lots of acid. It has sitars on it. It's like the beginnings of miserable psychedelia. That's what the Rolling Stones started - maybe we should have a revival of that."
  • U2 did a cover for the 7" B-side of "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses," and used some of it in live versions of "Bad." Other artists who have covered the song include Deep Purple, Vanessa Carlton, GOB, Tea Party, Jonny Lang, Face to Face, Earth Crisis, W.A.S.P., Rage, Glenn Tipton, Elliott Smith, Eternal Afflict, Anvil, and Risa Song.
  • Jack Nitzsche played keyboards. Besides working with The Stones, Nitzsche arranged records for Phil Spector and scored many movies. Nitzsche had an unfortunate moment when he appeared on the TV show Cops after being arrested for waving a gun at a guy who stole his hat. He died of a heart attack in 2000 at age 63.
  • The Stones former manager Allen Klein owned the publishing rights to this song. In 1965, The Stones hired him and signed a deal they would later regret. With Klein controlling their money, The Stones signed over the publishing rights to all the songs they wrote up to 1969. Every time this is used in a commercial or TV show, Klein's estate (he died in 2009) gets paid.
  • This is featured in the closing credits of the movie The Devil's Advocate. It is also heard at the end of Stanley Kubrick's movie Full Metal Jacket, where it serves as an allegory of the sorrow of the sudden death in the song relating to the emotional death of the men in the film, and of all men in war. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Joseph - Taree, Australia
  • Brian Jones had a lot of input into this song, but was left off the songwriting credits (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are the credited writers). Jones did the arrangements for "Paint It Black" and many other songs around this time, but according to Keith Richards, he never presented a finished song to the group, which kept him off the credits.

    Jones was a founding member of the Stones and key to their early success. He was still going strong when this song was released in 1966, but fell off a year later when his drug use caught up to him and his girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, left him for Richards. By June 1969, he was a liability, and the Stones fired him. Less than a month later he drowned in his swimming pool at age 27.

    His notable contributions to the group include lead guitar on "Get Off of My Cloud" and recorder on "Ruby Tuesday," but his work on "Paint It Black" may have been his greatest musical achievement. "Brian's sitar line not only makes the song happen but also turns it into a timeless classic," Danny Garcia, director of the film Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones, told Songfacts.
  • This song was used in the movie Stir Of Echoes with Kevin Bacon. In the movie, Bacon's character hears the first few chords of it in a memory, but could not think of the song. It drives him crazy through most of the movie. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mary - Phoenix, AZ
  • Talking on his Absolute Radio show, Stones' co-guitarist Ronnie Wood disclosed that Keith Richards has trouble remembering how to play this song. He revealed, "We always have this moment of hesitation where we don't know if Keith's going to get the intro right."
  • Keith Richards: "What made 'Paint It Black' was Bill Wyman on the organ, because it didn't sound anything like the finished record until Bill said, 'You go like this.'"
  • Ciara recorded a breathy, stirring cover for the 2015 movie, The Last Witch Hunter. The R&B star told Rolling Stone that it was a surprise for her when she got the call from Universal Publishing and Lionsgate to record the tune. "When they asked me to do this, I was like, 'Absolutely. This would be an honor,'" she said. "I had never thought to cover this song. It was never on my radar to cover it, but when the opportunity came along, I was very thrilled, because I love what the producer Adrianne Gonzales did."

    "The direction that she went in was actually a sound I've always wanted to play with, and it just didn't get any better than being able to cover a Rolling Stones song," Ciara continued. "I feel like it pushes the edge and the limit for me, in reference to what people probably expect from me. So this was so many cool things in one. It was a huge honor, and then creatively I just got to really have some fun that I don't usually do in my music."
  • This wasn't the only "black" hit of 1966; the Spanish group Los Bravos went to #4 US and #2 UK with "Black Is Black" that year.
  • In the two weeks this song was at #1 in June 1966, the #2 song was "Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind?" by The Lovin' Spoonful, an American group that made inroads against the British Invasion bands with relentlessly upbeat pop songs. Their jaunty song about trying to decide between two girls was quite a contrast to "Paint It Black."
  • In his 2002 book Rolling with the Stones, Bill Wyman explained that the album was intended to be the soundtrack for the never-filmed movie Back, Behind And In Front. The deal fell through when Mick Jagger met director Nicholas Ray (who directed James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause) and didn’t like him. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • In a nod to Henry Ford's quote "you can have any color as long as it's black," an orchestral version was used in a 2018 Ford commercial starring Bryan Cranston. In 2020, another major brand deployed the song when Missy Elliot and H.E.R. created a new version for a Pepsi Super Bowl commercial touting Pepsi Zero Sugar's black can. Part of the song was previewed in commercials that aired a week earlier during the Grammy Awards, where H.E.R. was a performer.
  • "Paint It Black" is referenced in the second verse of the 1972 song "Thirteen" by Big Star:

    Won't you tell your Dad get off my back?
    Tell him what we said 'bout "Paint It Black"
    Rock 'n' Roll is here to stay
    Come inside where it's OK
    And I'll shake you

    Suggestion credit:
    John - Tipperary, Ireland

Comments: 198

  • Roger from BakersfieldThe influencer is "bir eylul aksami" by erkin koray, 1962
  • Aa from Ist, TurMusic is stolen from Erkin Koray.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI see a song site and I want it painted black.
  • Mark from Pittsburg TxThe last 90 seconds of Paint it Black sounds like having the best sex of your life! The pounding beat and the sitar!
  • Out Over Zebrahdellah from Tasmaniathis song when it first came out in the dayglo mid 60's had some references by jagger to a bad acid experience around los angeles..... the lyrics still ring with the edginess of a harsh psychedelic experience...... but then it doesnt have to be that way if ya know how
  • Mark from CaliforniaThis song always reminds me of the middle east and burning American flags, Saddam Hussein firing a machine gun, and the thousands of religious followers dressed in black and hitting their heads when the Ayatollah Khomeni died. It just seems to fit...
  • Kawa from Tokyo, JapanHi Music lovers,

    Before I tried to write this comment, I read some comments form the listeners of this site, I thought they had great memories of this song. So don't misunderstand my comment which I am trying to write my comment. Because it might hurt your feelings or memories of this song. I think that the idea of the song came from the famous quotes of Mr. Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Mortor Company, in a 20th century. He said that 'A customer can have a car by painted any color as long as it's black'.
  • Mark from TexasLike all Stones fans, my wife and I listened to this for years, never knowing (fortunately) the sequel.
    I heard it one morning right after she died - at the age of 35 - and it was one of the hardest days of my life.
    You might love the Stones and the song, but, trust me, that is not a good time...
    Made me really want to see her (as the song says) in Heaven, but with two small sons to raise...
  • Kathleen from MarylandHarry White: I think newborn is the perfect choice. It's saying that just like birth (which happens every day), death also happens every day. This song is about his partner (wife, girlfriend, etc.) dying. So like a newborn baby (birth), it [death] happens every day.
  • Russell from Upstate N. Y.I was 17 when this song hit the charts. interpretation of the lyrics: The singer just found out his girl is pregnant, which is expressed as a disaster. Simple but most likely wrong. Just remember my age of self centered idiocy.
  • Logan from Nashville, TnThis song was featured in 2 different Guitar Hero games. It first appeared in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, where it was the only song in the game that could not be played cooperatively. The second Guitar Hero game it appeared in was Guitar Hero Live.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 26th 1966, the Rolling Stones appeared in an afternoon concert at the Coliseum in Washington, DC; after the concert they travel thirty-six miles to Baltimore, MD and that evening they performed their 2nd concert of the day at the Baltimore Civic Centre...
    At the time the Stones' "Paint It Black" was at #4 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; three weeks earlier on June 5th it had peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks}...
    In the United Kingdom it was at #16, the month before on May 22nd it reached #1 {for 1 week}...
    One of the opening acts were the Standells, and their "Dirty Water" was at #16 at the time; the following week it would peak at #11 for 2 weeks {the other opening act were the McCoys, of "Hang On Sloopy" fame}.
  • Harry White from CaliforniaThis song was played in the end credits of "The Devil's Advocate."
  • Harry White from CaliforniaWhen the Stones came out with "Sympathy for the Devil," I viewed "Paint it Black" in retrospect as a song about being evil.
  • Harry White from CaliforniaIt seems that "stillborn" instead of "newborn" would have made more sense, but was maybe a little too dark.
  • Margaret from Portland, OregonPhil Sloane was brought in by Jagger to work on the production of this song (as per Sloane's autobiography). One of Sloane's influential songs was "Blue Lipstick, recorded by Canadian singer Miss Patrician-Anne McKinnon in 1966. Phil had written this a song about "Beat" girl who loses her boyfriend and changes her lipstick from red to blue to reflect the depth of her loss. Its not a big step to move to a boy who has lost his girl and wants a red door to turn black.
  • Heather from Leeds, EnglandThe song and its lyrics feature in The Dark Tower Series book III The Waste Land, due to its themes of doors as portals to other worlds. It is heard in the dreams of Eddie Dean and in the day-to-day life of Jake Chambers, so becoming a narrative mechanism for connecting the two characters together.
  • Face Value from LondonIMO this is a simple story of a man who wants to paint his front door:
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 5th 1966, "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones peaked at #1 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    It had entered the Top 100 on May 8th, 1966 and spent 11 weeks on the chart...
    And on May 26th it also reached #1 in the United Kingdom, plus it peaked at #1 in Australia and the Netherlands...
    The 2 weeks it was at #1 on the Top 100, the #2 record was "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind" by the Lovin’ Spoonful for both those weeks and it never did reached #1.
  • Jelle from Leiden, NetherlandsMick Jagger was walking in a street (I forgot where). In the street he saw that every door had a black color, but there was 1 door that had a red color. After that he started writhing some lyrics.
  • Bertrand from Paris, FranceIt was George Harrison who taught Brian Jones how to play the sitar.
  • Chris from Truro, United KingdomThere is an incredible amount of misinformation here. This song's lyrics were not written about Mick Jagger's breakup with Marianne Faithfull (because it was written in 1966 at the start of their four year relationship). I read here that in the Church of England,the doors are usually painted red. Absolute crap! (from Roxboro, North Carolina). This song was not written about the Vietnam War or Elvis Presley (not because the British didn't know or care - many of us did both about both). The person who looked up the level of official British involvement in the Vietnam War must have accidentally opened up the page about the Korean War.
    Sir Michael Philip Jagger has specifically stated that he wrote the lyrics of this song about a [fictional] girl's funeral. That's it about the writing. If it inspires other topics for you, then that's OK, but it was WRITTEN about the funeral of a girl (meaning young adult lady - and nobody in particular).
  • Matt from Pittsburgh, PaI was told a long time ago by the older brother of my best friend that this song is about someone being shipped off to Vietnam and leaving his girlfriend. The whole time he is there he thinks he is going to die. He survives the war only to come home and find out his girlfriend has died instead.
  • Sara from Tampa, FlI thought this song was about heroin but I as I skimmed through the comments, I did not see any references to it. I find it hard to believe that acid was a contributing factor in a song as dark as this one. Wouldn't he want to paint the door in bright, pretty colors if he was (or they were) tripping? What I love most about music is its all based on perception. We all have an opinion of what this song means. Some opinions are the same, some overlap and others are completely different depending on our own perceptions. I dont think The Rolling Stones were imagining their song would be the highlight of a Kevin Bacon movie when they were creating the song "Paint It Black". Think about the year they released it, 1966. I wonder what was going on in Britain in 1965-66? Were they dealing with civil rights too? Young people rebelling against the system? Experimenting with free love and drugs?
  • Jeff from Los Osos, CaThey said some people on acid were looking into the sun and going blind! 1966 so many fantastic colors (the creme).
  • Jeff from Los Osos, CaI heard this song in 67...after my first acid trip and felt that I had just lost the most remarkable thing that has ever happened! The colors and the things that occurred during the journey!
  • Shelby from Marietta, GaThis song reminds me of "Good Omens", by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It's basically a book about the Apocalypse and the Anti-Christ, but at the same time it's a comedy and it's so funny it seems like it was written by Monty Python. I guess one of the reasons these two parallel to me is because one of the demons, Crowley, owns and frequently rides in a black Bentley.
  • Mike from Red Lion, DeIt was inspired by Ad Reinhardt's Black Paintings from the early 1960's. They were painted in shades of dark black only.
  • Alex (aka "lx") from Nelson, New ZealandThis theme (depression) appears in Paul Martin Wold's (son of Seasick Steve and a version sung by him also) song "Whiskey Ballad" which has the line "The red door's painted black, the sky is grey not baby blue".
  • Bob from Schenectady, NyThis song made an appearance in the user-made Vietnam War modification for the video game Battlefield 1942 called "Eve of Destruction". The song would play out of some of the radios in the American bases, only audible when players got close.
  • Peter from Bcc, AzI tend to think that this song is about insanity or generally not being with it. The line about " If I look hard enough into the setting sun, my love will laugh with me again" suggests they haven't come to grips with losing a loved one. Of course the black theme seems to run through out the song no matter what it means.
  • Jim from Fort Worth, TxMarie Laforet did a French cover called "Marie Douceur, Marie Colère" which is quite good also.
  • Dynama from Cincinnati, OhAt the time this song was released, i thought it was about a guy furious that his girlfriend had been struck blind. he was so empathetic, he wanted to experience what she was experiencing tho he could still see. paint everything black because my girl can't see anything but blackness. he even thought about staring into the sun to deprive himself of sight.

    wikipedia says there were demonstrations against the vietnam war in 1966, but this future hippie-war protester-wannabe was not thinking about it yet.
  • Joel L. from Melbourne, AustraliaThis was also used as the theme song for the Vietnam based television program "Tour of Duty".
  • Dusty from St. Louis, MoI heard this on the radio and became obsessed with this song. Gonna get my band to cover it. Right in my vocal range. It'll be hard cause were a trio, but whatever
  • Catherine from Landrum, ScFor the record, 'Nam lasted from "60 to '74. Nothing in the '80's.
  • Betty from Dayton, Oh@Nick, Orange County, CA
    WOW!!! I love you outlook on this awesome song!!
  • Isaac from Morristown, TnMy fav song of all time and i cant tell u why LOL
  • Ivy from Springfield, NeEh this song is ok. a bit creepy. 4.5/10
  • Mikail from Greenville, Paif anyone noticed, this song was also used for a video game, it was called twisted metal black. not sure the reason they chose this titled song.
  • C from Sydney, AustraliaI often find myself humming this song, I think in regard to my love life. That's why I looked it up and found this site. Some interesting insights, thanks, I had no idea what it meant. but maybe it's about lost love and he's depressed. I guess the funeral is pretty obvious come to think of it - but that could be metaphorical as well -just for a love affair that died or something?
  • Clarese from Cooma, AustraliaI agree with all those guitar hero fans they have alot of great songs and so does singstar.I was at a friends and I really wanted to listen to paint it black and we put on singstar and HEY PRESTO there it was I was really amazed that not only that great song but many others were also on singstar:)
  • Julz from Atlanta, GaThis song is about the Vietnam least that is how i see it. I love songs where everyone has a different view on what it means. I think everyone in in the right direction on their views. Watch the video to this song on defSpot com site. It has the Rolling Stones performing back when they were teenagers.
  • Vicki from Center, Txthis song could be about Vetnam or about anyone who lost a love one but he was wearing a marine jacket while singing this song(remember?)?
    But to be honest this song is just pure art and the thing about good artist is that when they write a good song it can be taken many ways!!It depends on the listener that`s what art is about
  • Meg from Flemingsburg, KyI've always been told this song is about Vietnam.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 4th, 1966 the Stones played The Dome in Virginia Beach, VA. The Norfolk AM pop station WGH had 'Paint It Black' as their No. 1 record from mid May to the 1st week of July. But come the second week of July the record fell completely of their chart.
  • Matt from Houston, Txhmm... could this have possibly been the first emo song? thanks a lot mick jagger!
  • Steven from Sunnyvale, CaIn December 2002, Bob Rivers wrote "A President Who's Black", about Colin Powell. It has the line:
    "I see him on TV dressed up in his soldier clothes."
    The whole song can be heard at
  • Benjamin from Milwaukie (oak Grove), OrThe humming by Mick and Keith towards the end of the tune doesn't work, unless you want to attribute that to the fact his love is gone and words can no longer express his sorrow.
  • Eylem from Istanbul, TurkeyWhy the dead one is taken as a girl and the mourning one as a boy? I cannot find any clue for that.
    And, why we don't think that the song is about both vietnam and the death of a lover? I think, artists usually stirs up various feelings, events, and situations in the same cup. It may help understanding the death, the death in vietnam, the war, the mourning, and even, the love at the same time -using our already-known feelings and observations.
  • Ken from Castle Rock, CoThe song is not about Tara Browne, the Guinness heir who crashed his car. Tara Browne died December 18, 1966 and "Paint it Black" was released May 7, 1966. The first verse to the Beatles "A Day in Life" is however, supposed to be about Tara Browne, and it very well could be for it was released in January of 1967
  • Moorow from Rimini, ItalyA friend of mine just told me the song was written after the death of Tara Browne, crashed in his car while passing a red light (in his onor?). The Beatles too wrote "A Day In The Life" thinking about Tara's Death ... then Keith named his last son (dead him too 6 months old) after Tara Browne. So it could be definitively a song about death, and the funerale black car line fit perfectly.
  • Nick from Orange County, CaJust reading the lyrics and looking over some of the great posts on this page, a new idea kind of occurred to me and I'm gonna have to ask you to take a little ride with me: What if Mick is telling this story from the perspective of a pimp who fell in love with one of his prostitutes and was somehow indirectly responsible for her death? As was mentioned before, red doors signified prostitution houses. Originally, he sees "a" red door and wants it painted black, but later in the song he says "my" red door is painted black. Maybe the death/murder of the prostitute was so public and so terrible that it brought the end of prostitution in the area. As is often the case, Mick seems to be oscillating between the literal and the metaphorical, so it's difficult to decipher which lines are written which way. But in this interpretation maybe she was a decent girl whom he corrupted (then fell in love with) and probably sent her for a dangerous liaison, and he has to look away from the "girls walking by in their Summer clothes" because it reminds him of the guilt he feels for "recruiting" an innocent girl like them. He wants everything else to turn black because of his all-consuming depression, as many others have said. There's definitely a funeral, with the line of black cars and the flowers. As far as the "people turning their heads and quickly look away," this is what tipped me off on thinking that the author here is responsible for the girl's death. People are looking at him and know he may be responsible, but he hasn't been fingered yet and he's an intimidating figure so it's kind of an elephant-in-the-room kind of situation. The "newborn baby" line is his shady public response when questioned by authorities (which he could get away with since the police are often in the pockets of the same underground powers that run the prostitution rings), saying that people die every day, but people are born every day, too. Then he says "Maybe then I won't have to face the facts..." He seems to be reasoning with himself superficially, saying that since his prostitution house was shut down he won't have to deal with his responsibility for the girl's death. I'm still struggling with the green-blue line; all I can think of is that green often represents sexuality while blue represents altruism, and she was the only good thing in his world which revolved around sex. Finally, I thought the post was good that said the looking into the sun line meant he could see her in Heaven. Ok well I'll close now. This is probably crazy but hey I had an idea and everything kind of fit into place so I went with it. It's interesting if nothing else, I think.
  • Sparrow from Inland Empire, CaAs far as bands doing covers of "Paint It Black," Echo & The Bunnymen did an excellent live rendition of it in concert at Irvine Meadows in 1987 that I attended. I was 17 at the time of the concert, had grown up listening to the Stones via my dad, and knew them by heart. As soon as I heard the opening notes, I jumped out of my seat and went nuts. Some girl next to me turned to me and said "Is this one of their new songs?" I was speechless.
  • Mark from Chicago, Il This song was commonly understood at the time to be about the aftermath or coming down from psychedelic drugs e.g."no colors anymore I want them to turn black" and so on which is often a "downer" of great proportions and which the Stones and other young people were experiencing subsequent to their experimentations.
    There were other songs by the Stones in that period that made similar allusions (to psychedelic drugs). The title and cover of the album that "Paint It Black" first appeared on was one such. Another was Something "Happened to me Yesterday" on "Between the Buttons" (the name of the album itself was one such as were there many in the liner notes). Also, "Their Satanic Majesties Request" was considered their "psychedelic album not be outdone by the Beatles' psychedelic album, "Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts' Club Band".
  • Nicole from Nowhere, TnI absolutely love this song, it is at the end of the game "Twisted Metal Black", totally matches the game, perfect goth song (lol) and yes, I also believe it resembles lovers
  • Jamir from Philadelphia, Vai also agree with ms. vicki of liberty tx. im 11 now and i asked my Mom if she heard of this song she said "no". LOL she was born in the 70's. im not from that time but i am an old headed little dude. i have guitarhero3 too and i was like wow this song is awsome. i never knew that they would have a song from 1966 and here it is 2008 it will be 2009 thursday and people still listen to this today.i may me talkitive but this song unleashed my inner ability to express myself.i also like the foreign guitar riff that is played all during the song.this is not my favorite song but it sends electric thrills down my spine. it makes me think "what happened during the 60's?" my grandmom says that was a long time ago she also says "your Aunt was only 5 years old when that song came to be" LOL wow this has to be the longest comment on here.... and im not done yet! i like when he says "i see a line of cars and they are painted black,the flowers and my love never to come back." Sad but creative.well ill talk to you all later. And remember PAINT IT BLACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Jane from Austin, TxI don't know if anyone has mentioned this or not. But this song was also featured in "Wild Rides" which was a Nickelodeon special featuring Matt Dillon.
  • William from Irving, Txi find this song reflects my mood perfectly. i learned yesterday (10-23-08) that one moment could be your greatest then a few hours later it could be your worst.

    No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
    I could not foresee this thing happening to you
  • Blake from Tahlequah, OkI agree with Vicki from Liberty Texas most people think that guitar hero is dumb or whatever, but at least it is showing the "new" generation what real music is Im greatful to whoever came up with it.
  • Alex from Houston, TxOk yall. Paint it black is a love song. The red door symbolizes the the prostitution house she worked at for in the 60s red doors were symbols of prostitution houses. He wants it painted black to mourn her death. He wants the world painted black so all will feel his misery. Feel his pain. Feel his loss. He wants our faces tainted black so that our very skin will mourn her death. Ok yall? I look inside myself and see my heart is black is refering to his heart dieing. His ability to love is gone. Well bye yall.
  • Cameron from Austin, TxI'm tired of being told what a certain song means. Put your own interpretation into it!

    BUT, for the record, I do get death out of this song...
  • Wavy from Tucson , AzI have no idea what this song is about--depression? A funeral? War? Nihlism? For all we know keith and mick went out for something to eat--
  • Vicki from Liberty, TxI love hearing this song come out of my 12-yr-old kid's room when he's playing Guitar Hero 3. He asked me if I'd ever heard of it. I laughed so hard and told him I was raised on it!!! You can diss Guitar Hero all you want, but it's introducing a whole new generation of kids to classic rock songs. Which are WAY better than the crap they're coming out with now!!
  • Iry from Small Town, Iai thought this song was about Vietnam flowers were talking about hippies...the lover was idk..a solider who died...and the black was al the evil in the war...but i guess i'm wrong.
  • Fred from Laurel, MdI was in college when this song hit the charts, and it's one of my all-time faves. I think it was universally understood to be about a teen or twenty-something's gf dying (probably by auto accident, but the song is mute on how she died, except that it was sudden and unexpected). Not written, IMHO, about Nam, but in matters of drugs, sex, and war, allegory is extremely flexible, allowing many interpretations of a song of this kind. So there's an incentive for a songwriter to be somewhat vague, because it makes the product more marketable. So in this case, when the war becomes a big story, many activist Hollywood types can adapt the song to their purpose. Which is not to say the Stones set out to write this song with that purpose--just that that's how these things often turn out. But writing this way is also a mark of quality--that the song CAN be interpreted several different ways, all of them highly plausible. There's certainly no denying the exceptional songwriting and performing talent of the RS--they are one of the top (arguably THE top) rock bands of all time. They, along with the Beatles and the Beach Boys and Bob Dylan, were unbelievably prolific in top-notch material, each in their own style. *** I believe there are a few minor errata in the lyrics given here, though I could be wrong--often it's hard to make out exact words in certain passages. I always thought the 2nd line of the 2nd verse went, "Dead flowers and my love both never to come back." The flowers of the funeral join the girl in death. This line is then referred to in their later song, Dead Flowers, which I take to be about a smart-alecky, adolescent fan (or group of them) constantly sending Mick dead flowers in reference to this line in Paint It Black, which he then answers with a mock threat, 'Yeah, just keep doin' that, and I won't forget to put roses on your grave.' --Just a thought. *** To the unknown commenter who wrote--"I think Paint It Black is about the depression that a soldier faces...2) The Red Door could stand for China or Vietnam and how the United States wants to do to Vietnam or China what it did to the slaves in colonial America;..."--It's ironic and somewhat fitting you should put it that way, since what America ultimately did to the slaves was to free them! *** Back to the girlfriend's sudden death interp.-- it also occurs to me that the red door could represent his heart.

  • Bque from Berkeley, TnThe lyrics to Paint it black were written by Mick, though the melody was a group effort, but the song is about a break up with a girlfriend separated by 3,000 miles - and feeling the depression that settles in when those he sees everyday, cant compare to the intense affair he's left behind. good tune.
  • Joey from Rabbidtown, InLol, Garrett. Lol, Anthony, use punctuation. I haven't read any others. But I think this song is very cool...
  • Allie from Pine Knob, MiOne of the few songs where you can rhyme the same words with each other. So clever!!!!
    one of my favorite Stones songs
  • Redrose from Tampa, FlThis has got to be my favorite Stones' song. I, too, tend to think depressed, negative thoughts alot & this song fits my mood quite often. I never thought about the song perhaps being about a girl who passed away. That really makes sense.

    Several years ago I was asked by a 20-something if the Stones created this song for all the Vietnam movies. I told her "no it came out in the mid 60s, it just fits". ~RR~
  • Garrett from Cookeville, Tni freakin hate this song i think its gay it makes no sense to me
  • Marcus from Richmond, Vayes! the best song ever to reach my ears
  • Anthony from Oneonta, NyI first heard this song when i was 9 years old it just clicked i dont know how it just did my gramma had just died and it just clicked it's been my favorite ever since
  • Scott from Wyandotte, MiI think this song was about Acid or have something to do with Acid This song was written as Mick Jagger quoted"Around the so called Acid Times"So it could be about Acid or well enough more about Death of a loved one
  • Patrick from Portland, MeThis is my favorite Guitar Hero 3 song! I love it. It has an interesting mystical sound behind it and you can really get into it.
  • Tim from Shaftesbury, Englandi agree with mays landing NJ with the hearse thing...i picture mick lying in his room with a red door wanting it to be black (not feeling colourful or wanting colour in his grief...seeing all the colourful girls going down the street makes the whole thing even darker...(have to turn away)...
    maybe it didnt happen to mick...but he sure knew the feelings around it...
    ironic that the music is so upbeat, contrary to a durge....
    "I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
    Like a new born baby it just happens evry day"
    i think this is about people turning away from the funeral you do...out of respect (and not staring) funerals are like that..and it happens every day..death a new born babe...
    [while the vietnam thing might have a part..i dont think, by '66 the full protest or awareness of vietnam had really got underway...could be wrong..i thought it was 67 onwards after the college riots about napalm]
    this song is about grief in my view...(and the tempo of the song could be anger..another emotion of grief)

  • P.a. from Paris, France"The Stones are from England, why should they care about VietNam? They are describing a funeral!"
    That's very logic!
    Same as saying: they are from England, why should they care about blues and country?

    I think that even if it was not intended to, it is one of the best war songs:
    you have the sitar which sounds really asian, the drums at the beginning, the guitar strokes at the end (machine guns)...
    And obviously the tone.

    Even the lyrics: there is more than just a funeral, (and it can very well be talking about a funeral AND evoking the war, why one or the other anyway).

    "I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
    I have to turn my head..."
    "I see people turn their heads and quickly look away"
    These two lines express the hard readaptation and the lack of respect or embarasment shown by some people towards soldiers. Same exact theme as the movies Born On A Fourth Of July or the first Rambo.
    When I think of a war song, I think of Fortunate Son, The End, and...Paint It Black
  • V-starr from ?????????, MiI love this song alot! It's another fave song of mine thanks to Guitar Hero III
  • Andrew from Los Angeles, Ca:) Great Song.
  • Richard from Rockvale, TnIf you want to hear this song absolutely slaughtered, check out the Animals' version they did at Monterey Pop.
  • Craig from Melbourne, AustraliaTo truly appreciate the power of this song is to witness it live. I did in 2006 - And it was absolutely stunning.
  • Val from Unalakleet, AkI heard that this song was written when Mick Jagger was in a deep funk after breaking up with long-time girlfriend Marianne Faithful, way back when.
  • Robert from Chicago, IlCheck out the cover versions by Deep Purple, The Animals and WAR (the latter two both have Eric Burdon as lead vocalist). They are AMAZING!!!

    Also, another song to appear in Guitar Hero III!!!
  • Musicmama from New York, NyThis is one of those pieces that actually becomes more complex the more you listen to it. The lyrics are great, and they could have worked as a traditional blues song. However, by adding the sitar and what sound like maracas, there is a feeling of disorientation--sort of what I think what Bob Dylan meant by "jingle jangle morning" in "Mr. Tambourine Man"--added to the sadness and anger. Great song, right up there with the best of the Beatles/Lennon and Bob Marley.
  • Nate from Cedar Crest, Nmthis song is so amazing it has lyrics like modern emo music but is set to this crazy indian citar beat every time i hear it it sends chills down my spine, the rolling stones greatest song and one of the best songs ever. John Lennon himself said it was "the greatest song of the 20th century" and I agree
  • Nate from Cedar Crest, Nmthis song is so amazing it has lyrics like modern emo music but is set to this crazy indian citar beat every time i hear it it sends chills down my spine, the rolling stones greatest song and one of hte best songs ever. Joh Lennon himself said it was "the greatest song of the 2oth century" anbd I agree
  • R from Montreal, Qc, CanadaA really good version is the one from Eric Burdon at the Monterey Pop Festival.
    I think that Eric recorded another version for a studio album.

    The Stones version is by far the best and still today a great song. I used to play that on my guitar regularly; what a feeling! The song starts slowly and suddenly explose with the refrain; the finale is great too with Jagger shouting over the vocals.
  • Brian from Springfield, VaProbably Brian Jones's greatest piece. RIP.
  • Billy from Cresco, PaThe first time I heard this song was on "Twisted Metal:Black" pretty good game..

    One of my favorites
  • James from Denton, TxI loved this song when it was first popular -- still do. Back then, many of my friends were convinced that it had racial overtones, and some claimed that Jaggar mumbled "ever since I was a child I wanted to be Black." Well, whatever intended by the songwriter, the song has obviously meant a great many things to many people over the years.
  • Tom from Leersum, NetherlandsTwo and a half years ago, I lost my dearly beloved wife and soulmate (brain cancer) at the age of 53, and one year ago I lost a friend who was a 'nam vet (post traumatic war syndrome, overdose of pain killing pills) at the age of 55.
    That's why 'Paint it black' means a lot to me in both ways, losing a loved one as well as the f....n' war in Vietnam.
    The lyrics of this song help me a bit to understand the often confusing way I'm trying to cope with what has happened, and thus learning about myself.
    Believe me, that ain't easy, and I now know what is meant by a black door....
    Nevertheless, I think that some time in future, such a door should be opened, for it cannot forever stay closed. If it would, it could become a threat to one's mental health. Still, it'll be a long way to go....
  • Stephen from Claymont , DeU no when it says "" I see a red door", isnt it when i see a rector
  • Rick from Columbus, GaPaul Anka's cover version of this is wonderful:

    Paint it black, yeah . . .
    Paint that door red . . .
    Don't get down cat . . .
    cause someone's dead, yeah . . .

    Oh paint that door red . . .
    then paint it black . . .
    then paint it rainbow . . .
    and change it back, you cat . . .

    Oh paint my hair red . . .
    bet-ter than gray, man . . .
    paint my car green . . .
    part of the big plan . . .

    Plus he replaced the sitar with an accordian. That's always a plus!!!
  • Brinn from Roxboro, NcThe Red door is the door to an Episcopal or Church of England Church. These doors are usually painted red. The funeral for his girlfriend was in a church, thus the church reminds him of her death. Hw wants the door painted black to be like him mood.
  • Steve from Winnipeg, Canadabrandon u suck hehe
  • Brandon from Winnipeg, CanadaI love The Rolling Stones i first heard this song in Tour Of Duty i love that show and now i love this song.
  • Bill from Queens, NyWhile the Rolling Stones' song "Paint It Black" was not written about the Vietnam War, it has great meaning for many combat veterans from that war. The depression, the aura of premature death, loss of innocence, abandonment of all hope are perfectly expressed in the song. When you walk off the killing fields, still alive, physically intact, you want everything painted black, like your heart, your soul, you mind, your life.
  • Anne from York , EnglandThis song was recorded after The Beatles Norwegian Wood and it is a great pop song.
  • Mike from Germantown, MdI got this song on record at a yard sale for a quarter. Gotta love yard sales.
  • Christian from Taylor, Canadawhen it says "I see a red door" it is refering to blood
  • Andrew from London, EnglandI can't get enough of this song. Covered by many artists and the song is subjected to many different interpretations. The song is definitely NOT about Elvis as the song was written over a decade BEFORE the demise of Elvis. When released it was such a great song to dance to and we didn't care too much about the lyrics - besides Jagger loves to slur his words which hide the lyrics. A feckin' great song and it's stood the test of time. Play it, Loud!
  • Will from Spring Hill, KsThis fricken song is obviously NOT ABOUT VIETNAM! jeez. Its way to obvious its simply about depression after the death of a girlfriend.
  • June from North River, Cahey peps i love rolling stones and there music i have a whole corner full of them!!!!!!! I LOVE THE ROLLING STONES(L)i rate them the highest thing you can rate!!
    Gillespie(dont belive the names you read though)
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScBecause of theline, "If I look hard enough into the settin' sun, my love will laugh with me until the mornin' comes," I am beginning to think that's more about a dead girlfriend or loved one in general. Plus, I thought the line was "I have to turn my head until my darkness goes," not "I turn my head until my darkness goes." I was refering to one of the songfacts above, that was saying it was inspired by James Joyce. Whoever submitted that songfact wrote the line down wrong.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScIt makes sense that it would be about Vietnam, but the funeral for a dead loved one would make more sense. Look at the lyrics.
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrRolling Stones best song; and that's saying a LOT.
  • William from Naperville, IlC'mon kids, check the dates! This song was written by a British group in 1966! Viet-Nam was primarily an American war and hadn't really "blossomed" into a full fledged atrocity for another year after the song was released. It's a song about a guy who is devastated and depressed after the sudden death of his wife or girlfriend. Everything he sees aound him he wants to change to mirror his bleakness. The old phrase "misery loves company" should be a clue to what the song is about. What it ISN'T about is Viet-Nam!
  • William from Naperville, IlOh Yeah, and it SURE ain't about Elvis either!
  • Wade from Katy, TxGeorge Harrison helped write the sitar for this song.
  • Bloodshot from Ackerman, Msanybody who thinks a cover of this song is better than the original is out of their damn head. rarely ever does a cover match up to the original's standards, and this is definitely the case here. no one, i repeat, no one will ever come close to the Stones' version of this song, and i could care less to hear yet another cover of it. at least the number of covers is a send up to how great the original is, and this one is indeed great. i could never get enough of this song.

    as far as the meaning, i couldn't really say. for the most part, the dead lover and Vietnam theories both seem to have pretty strong cases, but i think the dead lover theory sounds more plausible for now. although i have to admit that is a tad overdone.
  • Greg from Victoria, CanadaA great Stones classic reflecting a truly unique era that many of us old folks were invovled in.It's always been a summer song for because of the line......"I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
    I have to turn my head until my darkness goes"...whatever....Ones thing's for sure in my mind neither Judas Priest nor the Vines?(who) could even come close to the energy that the Stones put into it. Great song!Great time to be young!
  • Adam from Auckland , New ZealandThis song was apparently written in Invercargill,New Zealand while on tour here.They also referred To Invercargill as being the "arsehole of the world" hence it's location at the bottom of New Zealand and the World .
  • Aylin from MontrealLike a newborn baby it just happens...every day. I love this.
  • Sam from Shanghai, ChinaI saw the Stones perform this last night in Shanghai on the Bigger Bang tour, and it was truly sensational. Keef appeared on stage with a white Telecaster, and when he played the opening lick, it sent shivers down my spine. The best part was that you could see that he was truly enjoying it too. Highlight of the entire concert!
  • AnonymousA very overrated band , and a very bad song! Mike From pottstown pa
  • Rayna from Pembroke Pines, Fl I agree that it's about a sweetheart who died, but the line "If I look hard enough into the setting sun, my love will laugh with me before the morning comes," can also mean that the narrator wants to wake up and find that it was all a nightmare and his sweetheart is still alive
  • Renee from Saint John, CanadaBest song by the Rolling Stones. They played it amazing in concert too.
  • Rory from Victoria, Canada"The Stones are from England, why should they care about VietNam? They are describing a funeral!"

    Issues like vietnam are universal, You may as well ask why the irish band Thin Lizzy recorded Boys are Back in Town ( Original title, GI Joe comin home, referring to vietnam).
  • Josh from Las Vegas, NvThe Unseen did a damn good cover of this, too.
  • David Howard from Cheshire, EnglandIts about depression. plain and simple. I can't understand where you guys are getting some of this stuff from. This is fact.
  • Hannah from Tallahassee, FlVanessa Carlton did a cover of this song. It sounds like an angry chick, basically.
  • Matt from Calgary, CanadaIm a metalhead so maybe im biased but I think that the Judas Priest cover of the song is better than the origonal. I think the dark theme and the emotion behind the song can better be conveyed with more distorted guitars and more intense vocals and is therfor more suited to heavy metal rather than rock. Don't get me wrong the origonal is good and cheers to the stones for writing it, i just feel that Priest does it a bit better.
  • Homero from Monterrey , MexicoThe second part of my last comment is that the line: "i see the girls standing in their summer clothes, i have to turn my head until my darkness goes" it means soldiers didn t feel like to see women or think in women ( we got to know the lack of women in war, so some of them commited sex abuse ) because they were traumatized. This song proyects their sadness.
  • Homero from Monterrey , MexicoTHIS IS THE REAL MEANING OF THE SONG:

    SOLDIERS CAME TO U.S AFTER THE WAR. THEY WERE TRAUMATIZED. THEY WENT TO THEIR DEAD PARTNERS FUNERALS, THE DEAD BODIES SENT FROM VIETNAM TO U.S ( So the line: "line of cars all painted black", describing a funeral ).WE HAVE ANOTHER LINE THAT REFERS TO THE SADNESS THEY FEEL: "both flowers and my love never to come back".
  • James from I Am Sinking, LaI looked it up and guess what!?!?!? The British were in Vietnam too. They just were not in it as much.
  • Jeanette from Irvine, Cathis is my favorite rolling stones song.
  • James from I Am Sinking, La"I see a line of cars and the are all painted black," it does not have to be about hearses. It could mean everyone is deppressed and angry and twisted and so high that everything looks dark and dreary.
  • James from I Am Sinking, LaI am suprised they did not play this in the fight in "We Were Soldiers"
  • AnonymousI think Paint It Black is about the depression that soldier face during and after the Vietnam Conflict. I see the Red door as having four meanings: 1) The Red Door is Communism and the United States' attempt to get rid of communism; 2) The Red Door could stand for China or Vietnam and how the United States wants to do to Vietnam or China what it did to the slaves in colonial America; 3) I see the Red Door as the opening to a room where all the bad depressive things of life are stored in the brain. Paint that door Black so that the brain can't find those depressive thoughts, images, and memories; 4) I see the Red Door as somethign vibrant and full of life. The GI being depressed because of the war can't handle life and jsut wants everything painted Black to match his/her mood.
  • Ray from San Francisco, CaThe CBS show Tour of Duty used Paint It Black as its theme song. China Beach was a spinoff of Tour of Duty. There are about 3-4 episodes of Tour of Duty that deal with China beach; the episodes focused less on action and more on emotional issues. After the spinoff show China Beach was picked up by ABC, it seemed that CBS lost interest in Tour of Duty as the show was cancelled.
  • AnonymousThe CBS show Tour of Duty used the song in the opening credits. China Beach was a spinoff show of Tour of Duty. There are about 3-4 episodes of Tour of Duty that lead to the spinoff show China Beach. China Beach focused less on action and more on the emotional side of war. Once China Beach was picked up by ABC it seemed that Tour of Duty was abandoned by CBS.
  • Aylin from Montreal, CanadaLike a newborn baby it just happens every day...and what's the opposite of being born?
    Great song.
  • J from Atl, Gajust b/c they're british doesnt mean they didnt care about vietnam. vietnam was a major world conflict. it was important to most people of the time.
  • Courtney from Ipswich, Australiahello. i think that even though ive never heard the original song, the lyrics are so beautiful. dont quite know what story to believe but i think ill go with common sense and say that its possible its about his love or whatever. such a beautiful song. and also theres this dance techno song i love thats called paint it black, so im guessing like a remake or something but technoish. its good. i think all the possible stories of the lyrics are sad and good and i should prob lsiten to the actual original song. going to do that.
  • Mia from Wellston, MiI was in my granpas basement going thought old records and i found the single for this. I really like this song and the b side "stupid girl"
  • Richard from Orlando, FlChina Beach was actually on ABC and featured a Supremes' song in its opening credits.
  • X from Nowhereville, Hong KongI've never cared for this song. It's always been a little too... bleak for my taste.
  • Matt from Newport, Walesthis song was also featured in the PS2 game Conflict Vietnam as a 1 minute shortened version if you are on the main menu dont press anything for 2 minutes and it will play along with a video
  • Tressa from Eaton Rapids, MiAll I have to say is this is A AWESOME SONG!!!
  • Randy from Arlington Heights, IlThe TV show was actually China Beach on CBS. It starred Dana Delaney and Robert Picardo (later the doctor on Star Trek Voyager).
  • Paul from Chicago, IlPaint it black is a name of a punk band from philly dont know if it was intentionally taken from the song or if it has more meaning the drummer is in another band called none more black too so its kinda weird.
  • Danielle from Swanton, OhThis song is featured in NBC's show, American Dreams. When the Pryor family finds out that their son JJ is missing in action in Vietnam, they have this song start to play. This song fits so perfectly and its so eerily haunting. I love it.
  • James from Edwardsville, Ili love this song, one of my favorite ever. right up there with stairway to heaven and kashmir. i think it could be interpreted as a song about vietnam, but wasn't intentianally written so. after all, the rolling stones were from england, so they probably wouldn't care all that much about vietnam to write a song all about it. i think it's about his dead girlfriend, and i got to agree with chris. "if i look hard enough into the setting sun, my love will laugh with me before morning comes" is an awesome line
  • Dan from Ipswich, AustraliaThis song was covered by Steven Lee and the Icecream gang most recently. I believe it is much better then the original.
  • Chris from New York , NyI see nothing about Vietnam in this song... "line of cars all painted black" refers to a funeral..."both flowers and my love never to come back" means his girlfriend is dead, and the flowers at the funeral will also die..."girl in summer clothes,i have to tern my head until the darkness goes" means that he can't find a new love until his heartbreak goes away..."if i look hard enough into the setting sun, my love will laugh with me before the morning comes" is one of my favorite lines ever, and i can picture him looking into a sunset, thinking about his dead girlfriend... tell me im wrong about this. its so clear cut to me.
  • Tom from Newark, DeIn 1986, Echo & the Bunnymen closed there shows with this song, with Ray Manzarak on keyboards. That was really, really cool
  • Sara from Anoka, Mni like vanessa carlton's remake of this song
  • Jason from Everywhere, United StatesThere are alot of intepretations to many songs. This one seems that the most plausible anwser is that it's about a guys lost love and he's going to off himself to end the pain.
  • Michael Picard from Lapwai, IdThis is one of the coolest songs ever!!!
  • J-raff from Boston, MaBrian Jones was inspired to use the sitar in this by The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood". However, Jones didn't seem to be quite as interested in the instrument as Harrison.
  • Shawn from Urbandale, Iai don't really know what the first verse is about, but the line of cars is a line of hearses."Flowers and my love never to come back" he sent all his dead freinds that died in the vietnam war flowers, and he loved these men as brothers, the flowers well stay with the corpses and his freinds are dead so they can't love him back. when people turn their heads and quickly look away, they do so because the sight of thier dead loved ones is to sad for them, but when it says "like a new baby born, it happenes every day" he is saying that babies are born everyday to negate the effect of people dieing every day. He then realizes he has no more human emotions when his heart is black and this red door is the interation with the rest of the world, and red symbolizes the relationship with all his freinds and loved ones. when the door is fading into black that means that know one really knows or cares about him and if the door is black enough he could fade away into his own repressed memories and thoughts ultimatly bee=ing alone for eternity. i have more but this is running too long, so if you really want to know what happenes in my head e-mail
  • Ryan from Edmonton, CanadaThis song is truely amazing. To me this song is yes, about a depressed man, but a searching man. the man to me is like a soilder who has just come back from war. All the man knew during was was black- the color of sin and death. When he comes home its so hard for him to find salvation becaue the world is so mercyless and funn of sin. The reason I think about this is beacause it was written around the Vietnam war.
  • Michi from Hamburg, GermanyThe Stones are from England, why should they care about VietNam?
    They are describing a funeral!
  • Devon from Knoxville, TnThis song was also used in the hit video games series "Twisted metal". it was the ending credits song for "Twisted Metal:Black". thats also how I heard it. It matches with the creepy and dark story with the game as well. but its truly one of the best songs Ive heard.
  • Jen from Boulder, CoAnyone ever thought of the possibility that it's about the mind of a serial killer? I don't even think that it's the real theme of the song, but it seems like an interesting possibility. Wonder if there is any official interview or any comments about the song's meaning.
  • Jp from Kelowna, CanadaNot only did U2 do a cover version, On the Toronto Rocks DVD Rush plays the beginnig of the song just before they do Spirit of the radio. They do a good job to.
  • Evelyn from Kansas City, MoI wasn't around when the Stones released this (born in '71), but it's still one of my favorites. It's definitely about a man whose love has died (read the lyrics). I can also see how it might be about Vietnam on another level, though that would be a more convincing interpretation if the song had come from an American band. The great thing about poems'and songs that are poems'is that they can often be interpreted on many levels and rely on both the speaker and the listener to give meaning. Though the "necrophilic and anally oriented" interpretation seems a bit off ...
  • Allen from Some Place, AkI'm with John of Ireland. To me, that Vietnam stuff dosn't fit in with the lyrics.
  • Kieran from Albury-wodonga, AustraliaThis song has been covered by the Australian rock band, The Vines. Not a bad cover either - softer than the original but well done.
  • Shana from Pembroke, Canadaheck yes, this song rocks my socks
  • Shell from Riverdale, Ga'"I do think it has a cultural message about anger and nihilism and people becoming necrophilic and anally oriented as a reaction to being defeated or marginalized in their lives..." Huh?
    - Tom, Alma, GA'

    Ditto, Tom. I've done some pretty good drugs in my time but none of them were good enough to come up with something like this. Strange.
  • Mike from Sterling Heights, MiThis song was recently used in the commercial for the video game Conflict: Vietnam.
  • Lisa from A Town In, PaWas recently used on the show American Dreams in a scene about Vietnam.
  • Rendal from Melbourne, FlI do not know if this song was intended to symbolize returning troops or a sweetheart that died or went away. I do know this is a very moving song and can be freely applied to your personal reflections what ever they are, that is what makes this song so great. Semper fi
  • Jon from Weston, FlPaint it black is about the people coming back from the army afer and durring Vietnam. if you listen you can hear the sound effects, which makes it sound like
    helicopters and machine guns.
  • David from Waco, TxJohn Lennon said "Paint It Black" was the greatest composition of the 20th century
  • John from Tipperary, IrelandOh, and Paint It, Black. For God's sake....the guy's girl is dead. He's at her funeral, can't bear to look at the other girls in their summer dresses, vibrant and very much alive. Vietnam my arse.
  • John from Tipperary, IrelandPaint It, Black was referenced in the second verse of Thirteen, by Big Star: "Won't you tell your Dad get off my back? Tell him what we said 'bout Paint It, Black. Rock 'n' Roll is here to stay, come inside where it's OK, and I'll shake you." On a related note, Thirteen was also covered by the late, great Elliott Smith.
  • Andi from I Don't Like It Here, TxI had always heard that 'Paint It Black' was a political refrence to Vietnam.
  • Tom from Alma, Ga"I do think it has a cultural message about anger and nihilism and people becoming necrophilic and anally oriented as a reaction to being defeated or marginalized in their lives..." Huh?
  • Robert from Chicago, IlB@#%$&*#! Allen Klein also screwed over the Beatles during their last moments in '69.
  • Eric from Philpot, KyThis song was released in 1966, during the Vietnam War, as several people have already pointed out. The opening line, "I see a red door and I want it painted black" and the later line "I see my red door and it has been painted black" both, to me, symbolize that the narrator was in the war and the passage to his soul, the red door, is filled with so many bad memories that he just wants to forget them all, in other words, paint the red door black.
  • Brian from Mayfield Heights, OhDidn't U2 cover this?
  • Mike from Berkeley, CaI think the song is great. I do think it has a cultural message about anger and nihilism and people becoming necrophilic and anally oriented as a reaction to being defeated or marginalized in their lives...Have you had anyone walk out into the middle of the road in front of your car lately?.... daring someone to hit them? or crash a plane into the world trade center?
    This is about all that.
  • Olaf from Occidental, Ca"Paint It Black" was part of March 1966 recording sessions at RCA studios in Hollywood that also produced "Mother's Little Helper", "Lady Jane" and "Stupid Girl". Brian Jones may not have been the most likable Stone, but he certainly was a clever and adventurous musician, playing sitar on this and the dulcimer on "Lady Jane".
  • Olaf from Occidental, CaBrett, "you're Out of Time". The Elvis 'Comeback' TV Special was broadcast in 1968.
    This is considered to be Elvis at his best, before his Vegas shows and his final meltdown. "Paint It Black" is from 1966, so Jagger/Richards definitely "could not forsee" any of the future for the King.
  • Don from Sebastopol, CaI always figured the song was a pretty straightforward expression of the singer's profound grief and anger over the sudden death of his girlfriend. I was seventeen years old when 'Paint It Black' was released, and nobody was interpreting in terms of the VietNam war (that idea must be influenced by the way the song was used later). And the Elvis theory? This song was written before Elvis's decline and fall.
    It is original and inventive, like most of the Stones stuff around that time.
    - Olaf
  • Winston from Edmonton, CanadaThis is the greatest song ever recorded, and has great meaning to me. There have been numerous other covers: some techno (SFL, Rick Wakeman, and 3 Steps Ahead), 2 symphonic versions (the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Marc Almond providing the vocals and the London Symphony Orchestra without vocals) Inkubus Sukkubus, REM, Judas Priest, and even Limp Bizkit. I have heard over 25 variations on the song, and nothing will ever replace the original.
  • Katie from Goulburn, AustraliaAllen Klein is a bad, bad man
  • James from Sudbury, Canadathis song was also covered by the tea party, and appears on they're greatest hits cd, "tangents"
  • Brett from Watertown, SdHas anyone heard the Johnny Lang version? It is good but not as good as the original.
  • Dustin from Tampa, FlThe greatest rock song of all time. It is definately about the Vietnam war. The soldiers were so traumatised that the only thing that soothed them was total darkness.
  • Naomi from Pg, Canadayou were on the right trac, greg, but it's about someone who was in viet nam. came home, and was totally desensatised by the war. he saw so many of his friends die, that seeing a row or herches go by doesn't bother him. his only solace is darkness, thus the line "paint it black"
  • Eddie from Lachine, Mi The song's haunting melody is in the harmonic minor scale. . . which is why it sticks in your head.
  • Brandon from Seattle, WaThere are two Beatles songs, "Eleanor Rigby" and "Love You To", that are totally musically and lyrically related to "Paint It Black", thanks to Greg for a clear summary, I understand more. But, neither of those Beatles, hits, were influenced by the "Paint It Black."

    But, like I somewhat mentioned "Paint It Black" was covered by various artists, as well as influencing such songs like Creedence's "Bad Moon Rising" and the Doors' "The End."
  • Greg from Calgary, United StatesAbout a funeral mourner who eventually has to mourn the death of someone he actually knew. "Line of black cars" and "Flowers and my love" clearly describe a funeral and the line "Your whole world is black" and "My heart is black" talk about how the narrator has been de-sensitized by it all. "I could not forsee this happening to you..." talks about how his healthy friend suddenly died. "The people turn their heads..." No-one cares about the dead guy but the funeral mourner. "Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts"... He hopes he'll just blend into the crowd and not have to get genuinely emotional. He tries to hide his sadness, also, by making the world a worse, sadder place- "I want to see the sun blotted out from the sky" etc. Kind of like Pink Floyd, talking about how people isolate themselves from society.
  • Brett from Edmonton, CanadaI personally think this song is about Elvis. I was reading a biography of him which said he had his room in Graceland painted completely black because he liked the night (as well as watching people, particularly girls, having sex- "I see the girls walk by..."). "With flowers and my love, both never to come back.." Elvis had a crush on Ann-Margaret and sent her a room of flowers every time she came to Vegas. The red door represents gospel music- remember that Jesus' crucifixtion was preceeded by the Israelites painting their doorframes with the blood of lambs. By changing it to black he is rejecting religion, despite the fact that he was very Christian in his youth. "Turn their heads and quickly look away"- Elvis grows fat, bloated, divorced, and stoned. When you pass by someone like that in the street, you try not to stare. "If I look hard enough into the setting sun, my love will laugh with me before the morning comes..." If he remains optomistic, the life he loves will come back. He doesn't, and instead he dies. "I could not forsee this happening to you-" who could expect the polite young gospel singer from the south to end up like this?
  • Brandon from Seattle, WaThe quintessial song by the Rolling Stones to use a sitar, very much like "Norwegian Wood" by the Beatles.

    This song is not a racist song. If it was, why would it be influenced by a Motown song, say the Supremes' "My World is Empty Without You"? (not a racial comment). This song is more in meaning of the Vietnam War.
  • Danny from Grass Valley, CaOne of Brian Jones best performances. He plays the Sitar beautifully and it make that song rock so much harder
  • Stanley from Auckland, New ZealandIn the 90's Mick Jagger and Keith Richards gave permission for a version of this song to be used to promote the New Zealand national rugby team - The All-Blacks in a TV ad in exchange for 2 signed rugby jerseys and several cases of lager beer stylised on the team jersey.
  • Brian from Paoli, InIt also appears on the Playstation 2 game Twisted Metal Black as sort of the theme song.

    Probably one of the greatest songs ever recorded. One of the Stones' best.
  • Erik from Davis, CaThis was covered by The Animals.
  • Adam from Midlothian, VaDon't talk crap about Stir of Echoes. It was a great flick, and so was Full Metal Jacket. "Paint It Black" just made 'em that much better.
  • Matt from Cranford, NjThis song is also played during the credits to the Stanley Kubric film "Full Metal Jacket" which is much better than any kevin bacon flick.
  • Patrick from Durham, NcMy name is Patrick 0
  • Nora from Richfield, MnIt was recently covered by Vanessa Carlton
  • Patrick from Conyers, GaThis song is also used in the hit movie "Stir of Echoes" starring Kevin Bacon. In this movie, Kevin's character is hypnotized and as a result he receives messages from a girl who was killed in the house he lives in. When he sees what she saw until she was killed, the two boys that killed her cranked up a stereo and it happened to be playing this song. He kept hearing it in his head, and could not figure out where he heard it from. The little boy even hums it now and then.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Dave Pirner of Soul AsylumSongwriter Interviews

Dave explains how the video appropriated the meaning of "Runaway Train," and what he thought of getting parodied by Weird Al.

The PoliceFact or Fiction

Do their first three albums have French titles? Is "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" really meaningless? See if you can tell in this Fact or Fiction.

John Lee HookerSongwriter Interviews

Into the vaults for Bruce Pollock's 1984 conversation with the esteemed bluesman. Hooker talks about transforming a Tony Bennett classic and why you don't have to be sad and lonely to write the blues.

Pam TillisSongwriter Interviews

The country sweetheart opines about the demands of touring and talks about writing songs with her famous father.

Music Video Director David HoganSong Writing

David talks about videos he made for Prince, Alabama, Big & Rich, Sheryl Crow, DMB, Melissa Etheridge and Sisters of Mercy.

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & PalmerSongwriter Interviews

Greg talks about writing songs of "universal truth" for King Crimson and ELP, and tells us about his most memorable stage moment (it involves fireworks).