16 Shades of Blue

Album: Unrepentant Geraldines (2014)

Songfacts®:

  • 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."

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