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definition - Paint It, Black

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Paint It, Black

"Paint It, Black"
Single by The Rolling Stones
from the album Aftermath
B-side "Stupid Girl" (US)
"Long Long While" (UK)
Released 7 May 1966 (US)
13 May 1966 (UK)
Format 7"
Recorded 6–9 March 1966
Genre Psychedelic rock,[1] raga rock[2]
Length 3:45 (mono single mix)
3:22 (stereo album mix)
Label London 45-LON.901 (US)
Decca F.12395 (UK)
Writer(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer Andrew Loog Oldham
The Rolling Stones singles chronology
"19th Nervous Breakdown"
"Paint It Black"
"Mother's Little Helper/Lady Jane"
UK single cover
Music sample

"Paint It, Black" is a song released by The Rolling Stones on 13 May 1966 as the first single from the US version of their fourth album Aftermath.[3] It was originally titled "Paint It Black" without a comma. Keith Richards has stated that the comma was added by the record label, Decca.[3]

The song was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Mick Jagger wrote the words and Keith Richards wrote the music.[4]

Bill Wyman claims in his books that the song was a group effort although it was credited to Jagger/Richards.[citation needed]

The single reached number one in both the United States and the United Kingdom charts in 1966. In 2004 it was ranked number 174 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In the US and UK, it was the first number one single to feature a sitar on the recording.


  History and composition

The song acquired its distinctive rhythm when Wyman, looking for a way to "fatten up" the bass sound, began playing with his fists on the pedals of an organ during the recording session.[5] Richards said Wyman was doing a take-off of their first manager who started out as an organist in a cinema pit.[4] Brian Jones played the song's signature sitar riff, and Jagger contributed to the lyrics, which he has said are about a girl's funeral. Both electric and acoustic guitars and the background vocals are provided by Richards. The piano is played by Jack Nitzsche.[6]

Keith Richards has also been quoted as saying "we cut it as a comedy track". He said they started out playing it in a kind of "funky rhythm" which didn't work. They then played around with it to how it appears on the record. He says that "Brian playing the sitar makes the whole thing".[4]

The song is in chromatic-minor.[7]

The bass was also overdubbed by Bill Wyman playing on the bass pedals of a Hammond B3 organ.

  Chart performance

Chart (1966) Peak
Canada RPM Chart 1
Dutch Top 40[8] 1
Irish Singles Chart[9] 2
UK Singles Chart 1
US Billboard Hot 100 1
Chart (1990) Peak
Dutch Top 40[10] 1


  Eric Burdon & War version

"Paint It Black"
Single by Eric Burdon & War
from the album The Black Man's Burdon
B-side "Nights in White Satin"
Released 1971
Format 7" single
Recorded 1970
Genre Latin, psychedelic, R&B, funk
Length 4:04
Label Liberty
Writer(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer Jerry Goldstein
Eric Burdon & War singles chronology
"Tobacco Road"
"Paint It Black"
"They Can't Take Away Our Music"

Before Eric Burdon & War's 1970 version reached the charts in Netherlands, Eric Burdon & The Animals covered it in 1967 for their debut album, Winds of Change; they also performed a 12:40 version on German TV in 1970.[11] The original album version of Eric Burdon & War had a length of 13:41.

Eric Burdon & The Animals performed it at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. This version was cut and included in the motion picture of the festival. They performed it also on the BBC.

Eric Burdon performed it also on his "Hippiefest" tour in 2008.

  Chart performance

Chart (1971) Peak
Dutch Top 40[12] 31

  Other cover versions

Single releases

Album tracks or single b-sides

Digital releases

  • The Reggae rock band The Dirty Heads released a cover of the song on their web site

Live performances

  Other appearances

  • It appeared in the closing credits for the movie Full Metal Jacket.
  • This song was used in the opening credits for the CBS television series Tour of Duty.
  • It also appeared in the closing credits for the movie The Devil's Advocate.
  • This is the theme song for the videogame Twisted Metal: Black.
  • The name of the song was used in one of the titles of episodes of CSI: Miami.
  • 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. Gob's version appeared in the soundtrack.
  • The achievement "I Want To Paint It Black" for the game "Fruit Ninja Kinect" on the Xbox 360 refers to this song.
  • Cincinnati Reds All-Star first baseman Joey Votto uses "Paint It Black" as his walkup song.
  • This song was used in the opening sequence of the Videogame Conflict: Vietnam.
  • Paint it Black has been used for the commercial clip of the parfum Dior homme sport.


  1. ^ "The Top Psychedelic Songs". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/explore/style/psychedelic-d380/songs. 
  2. ^ ""Paint It, Black" a glorious Indian raga-rock riot that will send the Stones back to #1", Nicholas Schaffner, The British invasion: from the first wave to the new wave, (McGraw-Hill, 1982) ISBN 0-07-055089-1
  3. ^ a b Mark Paytress, The Rolling Stones: off the record, pp 108-109. Omnibus Press, 2003, ISBN 0711988692. http://books.google.com/books?id=toSbe1xQxToC&pg=PA109&lpg=PA109&dq=%22paint+it+black%22+comma&source=web&ots=2-0R9xqzWB&sig=iPEQDBPz-zGJzbYTkeTTRdutRs8. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  4. ^ a b c Keith Richards - In His Own Words by Mick St Michael, Omnibus Press, 1994, page 26. ISBN 0-7119-3634-X
  5. ^ "Track Talk: Paint It Black", Time Is On Our Side (Ian McPherson), http://www.timeisonourside.com/SOPaintIt.html, retrieved 17 April 2012 
  6. ^ Thomas Forget, The Rolling Stones, pp 53-54. The Rosen Publishing Group, 2003, ISBN 0-8239-3644-9. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=k27BVJZzIwoC&pg=PA1962&dq=%22rolling+stones%22+Thomas+Forget+middle+eastern&cd=1#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
  7. ^ Stephenson, Ken (2002). What to Listen for in Rock: A Stylistic Analysis, p.89. ISBN 978-0-300-09239-4.
  8. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40, week 24, 1966 (Dutch)". http://www.top40.nl/index.aspx?week=24&jaar=1966. Retrieved 26 April 2009 (2009-04-26). 
  9. ^ "irishcharts.ie". http://www.irishcharts.ie. Retrieved November 16, 2008 (2008-11-16). 
  10. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40, week 21, 1990 (Dutch)". http://www.top40.nl/index.aspx?week=21&jaar=1990. Retrieved 26 April 2009 (2009-04-26). 
  11. ^ http://www.dangerousminds.net/comments/eric_burdon_war_paint_it_black
  12. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40, week 20, 1971 (Dutch)". http://www.top40.nl/index.aspx?week=20&jaar=1971. Retrieved 26 April 2009 (2009-04-26). 
Preceded by
"Pretty Flamingo" by Manfred Mann
UK number-one single
26 May 1966
Succeeded by
"Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra
Preceded by
"When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
June 11, 1966
Succeeded by
"Paperback Writer" by The Beatles
Preceded by
"Good Lovin'" by The Young Rascals
RPM Top 100 number-one single
June 13, 1966
Succeeded by
"Green Grass" by Gary Lewis
Preceded by
"Sloop John B" by The Beach Boys
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
May 28, 1966 (1966-05-28)
Succeeded by
"Paperback Writer" by The Beatles
Preceded by
"Kingston Town" by UB40
Dutch Top 40 number one single
May 12, 1990 (1990-05-12)
Succeeded by
"What's a Woman?" by Vaya Con Dios


All translations of Paint It, Black

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