What does Paint It Black mean?

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The Rolling Stones: Paint It Black Meaning

Song Released: 1966


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Paint It Black Lyrics

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes
I see a line of cars and theyre all painted...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    #1 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
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    Jun 26th 2007 report

    this song is written from the perspective of a man thats depressed because his "love" died. (love referring to a girl)the artist is singing about everything turning black because hes depressed and sees everything as black.

    "i see a line of cars and they're all painted black"

    this refers to a line of cars that are black, either limos for the family and or friends at the funeral, or they're not black in real life, he just sees them as black because hes depressed. and also refers to a hearse.(the vehicle which carries the casket containing a dead body to the grave site/funeral.

    "with flowers and my love both never to come back"

    this refers to the flowers put on the casket or at the grave site/or because flowers are colorful, and he sees everything as black, and that the flowers will die like his love did,"never to come back".

    "i look inside myself and see my heart is black"

    his feelings are dark because hes depressed, he sees everything as black.

    "i could not foresee this thing happening to you"

    the death was unexpected, sudden and tragic. also the pain is so bad he does not wish it on anyone else to have to go through pain that bad.

    "if i look hard enough into the setting sun, my love will laugh with me before the morning comes"

    he feels he will see his love again, either by dreaming, spirit, or when he dies, they will be united again. mabey he plans to end his own life to be with her.

    "i see a red door and i want it painted black"

    this could refer to many things.a church door, the gates of hell, the casket front, or just a door that he sees thats red and he don't want to see colors.

    "no colors anymore i want them to turn black"

    he don't want any colors because mabey seeing all black helps him be less depressed because mabey when he sees colors it reminds him of when he was happy or reminds him that other people are happy, and he don't like that it makes him feel more depressed. colors also may make him feel alienated. he feels no one knows what hes going through, and mabey if they see the world through his eyes, everything black, then they may understand.

    "i see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
    i have to turn my head until my darkness goes"

    summer clothes are usually colorful. and this shows that he doesnt want to be depressed, or else his darkness wouldn't go. some of the lyrics contradict each other. i think he just feels so many emotions that he doesn't know what to think.

    "i want to see it painted, paint it black
    black as night, black as coal"

    he wants others to feel what he is going through. he feels alone.

    "i want to see the sun, blotted out from the sky"

    this is where thoughts of him dying come back? but i think he meant more of the sun reminding him of better days, which makes him more depressed. and because he feels cold (emotionally) so he wants others to feel what he feels. so he don't feel as alone. others feel what he feels and know what hes going through.

  2. 2TOP RATED

    #2 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
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    Feb 21st 2008 report

    The third interpretation is about 99% right. The only thing that's wrong is "when I see the girls walk by in their summer closes I have to turn my head until my darkness goes" is about him seeing girls in summer clothes (which are usually pretty skimpy), and he feels bad that he thinks of them when is love is now dead. his "darkness" refers to him feeling physically attracted to the girls and he feels like is betraying is love.

  3. 3TOP RATED

    #3 top rated interpretation:
    lieselvntrp
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    Sep 6th 2009 report

    Hi everyone. I am new to this, but not to Stones. As part of an art class, I illustrated the song, colors and all.
    The pictures were of the grieving, crying young man sitting in a dark empty pub, drinking and hanging his head over the obits. The picture made it clear that he and the deceased were married.( I keep him in a cool, dark, isolated place as I see him reflecting on the entire day follwing the funeral)
    The visions were from the funeral procession, black cars, hearse covered in flowers.People turning their heads quickly out of respect (but it happens every day, like a newborn baby, they tell themselves). The girls in their summer clothes do nothing for him but remind him of her. They do not bring the instinctive response to admire and he must look away until the darkness goes. The red door is the door to the church. He laments that the colors in his world will grow no deeper; it was an unforeseen death. Yet, his hope comes by looking hard into the sunset (the heavens) where she will laugh with him before morning comes.
    A question remains about whether he will try to join her himself or wait until his time comes. Their is Hope and Faith in the "setting sun". There is more anger and grief as the song ends and throughout "sun blotted out from the sky" I choose to believe that he sticks around.

  4. anonymous
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    Nov 27th 2020 report

    I have always thought the singer/speaker is dead and in his coffin. It is his funeral he is observing from outside his body and reflecting on the sadness, what he will miss being dead and the dark sadness that was his life.

  5. anonymous
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    Jul 14th 2018 report

    No it's about the secret wedding where they chose black instead of white for they're wedding clothes so as to defame the parents and the church and virginity with a gun so as not to be caught for the indecency and so he wouldn't have to be a virgin for ever.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  6. anonymous
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    Jun 20th 2018 report

    June 20, 2018

    How about a government-orchestrated covert
    "black ops" program?

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  7. anonymous
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    Nov 24th 2017 report

    My opinion is this song can be used a few ways... meaning Vietnam War - about a soldier thinking he will die & never see his girl... & is thinking what will be happening afterward.... or it can be He lost his girl to unforeseen death & is mourning... & thinking about joining her... either way... the song has strong feelings/emotions to it... ok my 2 cents... (shasta7)

  8. anonymous
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    Jul 6th 2017 report

    To me this song represents that he has lost love which to him was losing his heart and soul so he is slowly turning to the darkness for comfort. Also ,"I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes", this line to me is saying that he is reminded of his lost love by looking at the bright clothes that his love might have worn so he refuses to face the colors and resolves to black.

  9. anonymous
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    Apr 16th 2017 report

    I always thought it referred to the Viet Nam war, one's interpretation is just that

  10. anonymous
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    Apr 4th 2017 report

    I think that his mom wrote this song for them to use.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  11. anonymous
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    Apr 4th 2017 report

    i think it is about suicide and his lover died.

  12. anonymous
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    Nov 9th 2015 report

    Was alive when the wrote & performed it. 1966 - it was written for the aftermath / necrophelia album. Prior to this album the stones mostly covered r&b songs or wrote facimilies. They had a developed a bad boy image and wrote this song in support of it. It's about being in a dark angry mood from an introverted perspective. They are provoking themselves as misunderstood. It was a protest about prejudice in that one cannot really see people for who they are on the inside unless you listen to them. They are dark and disgusted and don't want to dance & party with you. Almost every song in the album(s) are dark, full of irony and rejection. Stupid girl, going home, flight 505 etc. 1966 was a period of emerging civil unrest and the stones played it well to fit the upcomming era.

  13. anonymous
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    Sep 22nd 2015 report

    so im not sure if this relates to the song in any way but in the song he says "I see my red door I must have it painted black", usually if the front door of a home or other building is painted black it is a sign of welcoming. so in other words, he is painting his red door black and he is shutting out the world as he is consumed by the loss of his loved one. hope that helps! maybe? maybe not? idk really, just my interpretation.

  14. anonymous
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    Sep 20th 2015 report

    If you look at the part of the song about the girls in their summer clothes from a Christian perspective, recall Jesus said to look a woman lustfully is to commit adultery. So a man who looks lustfully at a woman commits a sin, so by turning his head until his darkness goes, the man in the song is avoiding the darkness, the sin. This is how I have always interpreted this part of the song. In other parts of the song black also refers to evil, the devil, and sin. The song is about a man who is teetering on the edge of sin.

  15. anonymous
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    Feb 5th 2015 report

    He is in such pain over the death of his beloved, he cannot contain it and wants to spread it everywhere he goes - especially on people/objects commonly associated with happiness - to lessen the emotional burden. He cannot carry the grief all by himself.

  16. fistofate
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    Jul 22nd 2014 report

    This song is written from the perspective of a black person who is cutting themselves off from everything but that which is black, as some black people do: associating with people of other races as little as possible because of the "victim" culture they live in.
    It's actually one of their best songs.
    This narrative technique (getting inside the head of an imaginary character who is really not far from real life) has also been used by Randy Newman, Elvis Costello, the Beatles and others.
    The Stones were one of the first in rock music to use it.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  17. anonymous
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    Jul 20th 2014 report

    The Red Door is his heart and it's starting to turn black because of his lost love and the feeling that everything is now lost. His depression and hatred of all things beautiful and alive make him realize his red door, his heart, is turning black, and he's fine with that. MV

  18. anonymous
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    Aug 8th 2013 report

    I think the previous interpretations are just going way over the top.
    At the time, there was this huge chip on the shoulder of black people; complaining about one person not being "black enough" and 'black power" and all this other garbage, so they wrote a song about what they imagined might be on the mind of some ethnocentric person who'd been taught they were a victim from childbirth on up.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
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