What does Black mean?

Pearl Jam: Black Meaning

Album cover for Black album cover

Black Lyrics

Hey... oooh...
she's a painted canvas, under sheets of clay
her legs spread out before me as her body lay still.
All of five horizons revolved around her soul
As the earth to the sun
Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn



    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jan 29th 2012 !⃝

    The song is about a sinister heartbreak, personified as an artist whose hard work in the manifestation of the perfect piece from nothing has been 'robbed' from him. Left leaving him empty!!

    The bitter pill is the fact the final polished portrait of her, the one that he has so become to admire & proud of. A true masterpiece in his eyes, all he ever wanted from a partner, HAS NOT BEEN STOLEN, but rather it itself, has forsaken him. Only for the finished product to be indulged by others. Leaving him with the thoughts of betrayal and angst.

    The fact that he mentioned the children is an indication for his now self-realized true love for her and the expectations of a family with her.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Aug 25th 2013 !⃝

    My take on it is that he is referring to a lost love. I do not think it is referencing a lost child due to one specific line of the song and the lyrics he sings at a live show these days. The specific line being, I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I hope you'll be a star in someone else's sky. To me he is half heartily wishing her happiness in the future. In regards to the way the last lines of the song is sung in concert nowadays he comically says, we didn't belong together, together, you fucking bitch, we didn't belong together. I have heard that line at least 3 or 4 times over the last 5-6 shows. That's just my take on it of course!!


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Aug 11th 2011 !⃝

    These aren't even the correct lyrics!!! The first two lines are actually: "Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay
    Were laid spread out before me as her body once did." Fail on the part of the producer of this website.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 19th 2021 !⃝

    Ok here is a twist... what if the guy is a ghost, hesitant to leave his love, but realizes he has to move on because he is the one that is gone.....

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 14th 2019 !⃝

    Geen interpretatie. Er is altijd een keuze. Hier hoor ik een keuze om los te laten. Hopelijk brengt t uiteindelijk datgene wat nog meer betekenis heeft, anders laat je niet los maar zoek je in mogelijkheden.

  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 9th 2019 !⃝

    This song is very deep and I saw a comment on songmeaning by Jeten last month.

    Hope you and your wife could make it work. Hopefully you got together with your wife and son.

    If you still love your wife, fight for your love for her and never give up.

    Show your wife and tell her how much you love her.
    Not sure if the guy named Jeten also browses the meaning of this song here.

    For those who want to get back with their ex-gf. Give it a shot.

    -nHappily unattached and Hopeless Romantic ( fan of love stories and romantic comedy stories)

  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 20th 2018 !⃝

    M interpretation of this song is about letting go. When the lyrics read “I know some day you’ll have a beautiful life” means letting go, and never giving up because it does get better. This is my favorite song by Pearl Jam.

  8. anonymous
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    Dec 20th 2015 !⃝

    Wow I don't know where everyone's getting abortion from maybe if the lyrics were close to correct it wouldn't be so difficult to decipher the only line that even mentions children period is just to paint a picture for the listeners to relate to a state of mind that everyone can relate to. Telling us or better yet askin us trying to understand how he himself can still feel so dark and empty even while everyone ground his is so full of life and happy. The "I take a walk outside and I surrounded by some kids at play, and I can feel their laughter, so why do I sere, " part is trying to give us the feeling of a nice sunny sprintime stroll through the park birds chirping kids laughing all happy and gay but ne being personal influenced by our surroundings and still feeling empty and consumed with these memories " all these pictures have" and describing how permanent these feeling really are and how there like scars or "tattoos" that are now part of our identity and how they are now a obvious these marks are to everyone .but the overall song is about a lost love and how he sincerely hopes for her happiness and wishes only to tell her how truly important she was to him and always will be a very important part of him and how permanent her impression on him is. But still wanting her to be appreciated and her life to be fulfilling and happy more than he wants his own personal happiness. That's true love (if you truly love something set it free, if it comes back its yours to keep,) I can relate completely it really isn't that encrypted or metophorical when you read it right

  9. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 1st 2014 !⃝

    What are you talking about people? I'm really impressed about how things can sound different in other people's minds... The song isn't about an abortion, he doesn't even mention anything that relates to that! I think every person that has once been in a strong and intense love can picture themselves in the lyrics. The "walk outside" Is Just he walking in some Park or something like that to get distracted. He notices some kids playing and "feels" their laughters and then thinks "they're happy, laughing, I could be too, so "why do I sear?" Why do I suffer so much? The last verses made me cry once I watched them performing live... they're so emotional, so heavy, they picture him getting along to the fact that he really lost the girl he talks about in the song, but he still wants her happiness , leaving it clear that he wanted her to be a "star in his sky" as he sings "I know some day you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star in somebody's else sky but why? Why?? Whyyyy couldn't be, why couldn't be in miiiiiiiiinee yeah, why??? This last rising key makes me shiver every time I listen to this song.it's sad but absolutely beautiful at the same time.

  10. coffeecake43
    click a star to vote
    Nov 22nd 2013 !⃝

    This song is about creation adam and eve and sin how adam mess up every thing the lack of love for god and the love of eve

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  11. alixthestar
    click a star to vote
    Dec 25th 2012 !⃝

    I hope this makes sense-
    He is comparing the creation of his songs or this song to creating a baby. Sheet music - sheets on the bed. Maybe he choose he's music career over her & creating a family.
    The girl he loved had an abortion (it's not easy to tour when you have a family) & for her to make that choice for his benefit & the benefit of all the lives his music will touch is intense. Self sacrifice. It was so intense & emotional that the memories they had of each other like pictures started to become muddy/dirty like black ink being smeared. It started to tattoo everything black/dark/regret. She's going to one day meet another man & she'll be the star in his eyes e& they'll have kids & create a family together. But he knows it was supposed to be him & her. So every time he hears children's laughter it reminds him what he gave up & what he could have, should have had. Twisted thoughts become Bitter. He knows he caused her pain but he's reassuring her that she'll one day be happy but that he will always be cut by the left over regret of the past he holds onto, like broken glass from a picture frame.

    I've been in love with a rockstar... More importantly a beautiful man who needs to be available to the world, not just me. I had a responsibility to make the right choices for the greater good. Everyone plays their part in this life, being a muse for an inspirational person is not an easy role.

  12. sylvia.p.carey
    click a star to vote
    Dec 14th 2012 !⃝

    I heard this song used in an episode of the TV series "Cold Case" and really brought a different meaning than those previously mentioned and I feel was a great fit...

    I found myself teary-eyed and replaying the ending over and over again...unrequited love of parents we've never known despite our successful careers yet still wondering why...why wasn't I good enough for you to be in my life? It is said "that which does not kill us makes us stronger"...abandoned by one parent, left with the other parent who's a substance abuser and therefore neglected, subjected to abuse by an adult in the neighborhood...so much pain forged strength to a fault, passionate but insolated.

  13. reallyelijah
    click a star to vote
    Dec 2nd 2012 !⃝

    Eddie on PJ 20 said that this song is about a real person . Who is the preacher ? Revival rising ? Appeal to the SON ? O am that preacher Eddie is referring to . It is my prophetic letter to Mrs. Gairth and the Superintendent of TN schools about petroleum.There is an Oldham and a Jim in the song and it ends with over 20 to le do 's , where I was born and started writting prophetic letters the first April 13th 1985 to President Reagan .Where I was also beaten while in chains and handcuffs by deputy sherrifs.Garden , I will walk with my face , blood . I had to be taken to MCO hospital from jail to get my face stitched up.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 6th 2012 !⃝

    The lyrics at the top are completly wrong the song goes"sheets of empty canvas untouched sheets of clay lay spread out before me,as her body ounce did. all five horizons revolved around her soul" just saying if they are going to talk about the song they should be able to understand the lyrics.

  15. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 23rd 2012 !⃝

    This is clearly a song about Eddie getting a woman pregnant and her having an abortion...The first verse talks about them being young and naive and losing themselves in each others bodies...The second verse is about how she wanted to have the baby but he made her have the abortion even though he loved her. Now there is no taking it back and it ruined all of their future hopes and dreams together. The third verse is about the feelings that he has and how every child and laugh reminds him what he threw away with this woman and his child. He is deeply depressed and cannot get over it. They were in love up until that point. Now they have had an abortion and it drives Eddie crazy. The fourth verse talks about the regret and how much Fifth verse is his guilt growing as he gets older and the realization that maybe they made a bad mistake by having the abortion. The last verse is about how much he misses her and wants to have her and the baby back but knows it will never be. The baby/woman is going to be a star in someone else's world meaning, that he has no kids and wishes that he had this one back to make his star.

    Hey... oooh...
    she's a painted canvas, under sheets of clay
    her legs spread out before me as her body lay still.
    All of five horizons revolved around her soul
    As the earth to the sun
    Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn

    Ooh, and all I taught her was everything
    Ooh, I know she gave me all that she was
    And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds
    Of what was everything.
    Oh, the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything...

    I take a walk outside
    I'm surrounded by some kids at play
    I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear?
    Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head
    I'm spinning, oh, I'm spinning
    How quick the sun can drop away

    And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass
    Of what was everything?
    All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything...

    All the love gone bad turned my world to black
    Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I'll be... yeah...
    Uh huh... uh huh... ooh...

    I know someday you'll have a beautiful life,
    I know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky, but why
    Why, why can't it be, can't it be mine

    Aah... uuh..

  16. Fatty
    click a star to vote
    Mar 16th 2012 !⃝

    This song is about a guy who has list someone very important to him. If you listen to the song closely he is describing a tattoo on his chest. It is a picture of this person he has lost. He knows he will never get her back so to relieve his pain he has to go to a tattoo parlor and have them cover the picture up. That's why he says I tattooed every thing. That's why the song is called black. Reading some of these inturpitations are silly. Just liste to the words.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  17. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 10th 2011 !⃝

    I have been trying to figure out this poetic song for about a year now and I think he is actually talking about a child or a lover that has died in a fire because he mentions the word SEAR and SEARED which mean burned, scorched and that everything was tattoed in black? Anyone agree ha.

  18. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 1st 2011 !⃝

    It may be a girl, but not in the sense that is said in other comments. I believe he talks about the child he should have had, but lost. We don't know how. Empty sheets, emptyness where her body once laid, I taught her everything, the pictures (ecograph) taken has been washed in black, and whoever has been through the same thing has surely felt what he says when he says he goes for a walk outside and is surrounded by kids that play and laugh. There are always babies and children in the streets, but when you feel like that, it's all you can notice unfortunately, making you even more miserable. That pure young soul will be born again, in another family, and will be the star in somebody else's sky. Very very sad.

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