This electronically assisted song is a meditation on aging. "I turned 50 this year – and certain people really helped me to see it in a different way and grab it with both hands," said Amos. "The song '16 Shades of Blue' talks about aging from many points of view. And as I started to dive into it, I started to learn from women of all ages that age was a difficult thing for them – whether you're talking to a 15-year-old who feels pressure to choose their career path for life or a 33-year-old who fears she won't get the promotion if it is known that she is planning a family. They all felt the pressures in the aging process."
A lifelong art lover, it was the work of French post-impressionist painter Paul Cezanne that inspired the song title. "I discovered Cezanne this past year," said Amos. "And I just never got it before. All my life I have been going to art and artists to hear. One day I was looking through a book and I started hearing when I stumbled upon Cezanne's The Black Clock. He was known to have at least 16 Shades of Blue as part of his color palette."
Amos told The Irish Times the story of the song. "Rhythms and music started happening in my head," she said. "Then I began reading that Rilke would say that he [Cezanne] would paint in at least 16 shades of blue at times. All of sudden, it just came together: a story about age, and what it means to turn different ages at different times."
"I was hearing from women about their different struggles with age, and quite frankly I wasn’t prepared for it," Amos added. "So as I was staring 50 straight in the eye, that then became the song."