Happy New Year everyone! This week Jim Adams has prompted us with PG for Song Lyric Sunday. Not PG rated, but a song that starts with the letter “P” or “G”. I missed last Sunday’s Challenge because of the holidays so I have chosen two songs today. I have had both in my mind for a while and was just waiting for the right prompt, and here it is! Two of my all time favorites. “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones and “Gloria” by Van Morrison (THEM). I hope you enjoy them.
This is written from the viewpoint of a person who is depressed; he wants everything to turn black to match his mood. There was no specific inspiration for the lyrics. When asked at the time why he wrote a song about death, Mick Jagger replied: “I don’t know. It’s been done before. It’s not an original thought by any means. It all depends on how you do it.”
The song seems to be about a lover who died:
“I see a line of cars and they’re all painted black” – The hearse and limos.
“With flowers and my love both never to come back” – The flowers from the funeral and her in the hearse. He talks about his heart being black because of his loss.
“I could not foresee this thing happening to you” – It was an unexpected and sudden death .
“If I look hard enough into the setting sun, my love will laugh with me before the morning comes” – This refers to her in Heaven.
The Rolling Stones wrote this as a much slower, conventional soul song. When Bill Wyman began fooling around on the organ during the session doing a takeoff of their original as a spoof of music played at Jewish weddings. Co-manager Eric Easton (who had been an organist), and Charlie Watts joined in and improvised a double-time drum pattern, echoing the rhythm heard in some Middle Eastern dances. This new more upbeat rhythm was then used in the recording as a counterpoint to the morbid lyrics.
On this track, Stones guitarist Brian Jones played the sitar, which was introduced to pop music by The Beatles on their 1965 song Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown). Jones made good television by balancing the instrument on his lap during appearances.
Keith Richards explained how this song came together: “We were in Fiji for about three days. They make sitars and all sorts of Indian stuff. Sitars are made out of watermelons or pumpkins or something smashed so they go hard. They’re very brittle and you have to be careful how you handle them. We had the sitars, we thought we’d try them out in the studio. To get the right sound on ‘Paint It Black’ we found the sitar fitted perfectly. We tried a guitar but you can’t bend it enough.”
This was used as the theme song for Tour Of Duty, a CBS show about the Vietnam War that ran from 1987-1989.
On the single, there is a comma before the word “black” in the title, rendering it, “Paint It, Black.” This of course changes the context, implying that a person named “Black” is being implored to paint. While some fans interpreted this as a statement on race relations, it’s far more likely that the rogue comma was the result of a clerical error, something not uncommon in the ’60s.
Mick Jagger on the song’s psychedelic sound: “That was the time of lots of acid. It has sitars on it. It’s like the beginnings of miserable psychedelia. That’s what the Rolling Stones started – maybe we should have a revival of that.”
U2 did a cover for the 7″ B-side of “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses,” and used some of it in live versions of “Bad.” Other artists who have covered the song include Deep Purple, Vanessa Carlton, GOB, Tea Party, Jonny Lang, Face to Face, Earth Crisis, W.A.S.P., Rage, Glenn Tipton, Elliott Smith, Eternal Afflict, Anvil, and Risa Song.
Jack Nitzsche played keyboards. Besides working with The Stones, Nitzsche arranged records for Phil Spector and scored many movies. Nitzsche had an unfortunate moment when he appeared on the TV show Cops after being arrested for waving a gun at a guy who stole his hat. He died of a heart attack in 2000 at age 63.
The Stones former manager Allen Klein owned the publishing rights to this song. In 1965, The Stones hired him and signed a deal they would later regret. With Klein controlling their money, The Stones signed over the publishing rights to all the songs they wrote up to 1969. Every time this is used in a commercial or TV show, Klein’s estate (he died in 2009) gets paid.
This is featured in the closing credits of the movie The Devil’s Advocate. It is also heard at the end of Stanley Kubrick’s movie Full Metal Jacket, where it serves as an allegory of the sorrow of the sudden death in the song relating to the emotional death of the men in the film, and of all men in war.
Brian Jones had a lot of input into this song, but was left off the songwriting credits (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are the credited writers). Jones did the arrangements for “Paint It Black” and many other songs around this time, but according to Keith Richards, he never presented a finished song to the group, which kept him off the credits.
Jones was a founding member of the Stones and key to their early success. He was still going strong when this song was released in 1966, but fell off a year later when his drug use caught up to him and his girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, left him for Richards. By June 1969, he was a liability, and the Stones fired him. Less than a month later he drowned in his swimming pool at age 27.
His notable contributions to the group include lead guitar on “Get Off of My Cloud” and recorder on “Ruby Tuesday,” but his work on “Paint It Black” may have been his greatest musical achievement. “Brian’s sitar line not only makes the song happen but also turns it into a timeless classic,” Danny Garcia, director of the film Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones, told Songfacts.
Paint if 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 they're all painted black With flowers and my love, both never to come back I see people turn their heads and quickly look away Like a newborn baby it just happens ev'ryday I look inside myself and see my heart is black I see my red door and I must have it painted black Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts It's not easy facing up when your whole world is black No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue I could not foresee this thing happening to you If I look hard enough into the setting sun My love will laugh with me before the morning comes 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 want to see your face painted black, black as night, black as coal Don't want to see the sun, flying high in the sky I want to see it painted, painted, painted, painted black, yea Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, "Paint It Black" Courtesy of Songfacts
For “Gloria” I chose Van’s version from The Essential Van Morrison as he sounds so great here.
Them was a garage band from Belfast. “Gloria” was written by Van Morrison, who was their lead singer. The song is about a girl who comes by for (presumably) sexual encounters.
The recorded version is a tidy two and a half minutes with nothing explicit, but when Them (and later The Doors) would perform the song live, it often became an extended jam with Morrison going into more graphic, spoken-word detail about the encounter. Anyone who wondered just what happened when a groupie came by to see a willing rock star was given a first-hand account.
According to Van Morrison, the song was titled after his cousin Gloria, who was 13 years older. The song is not about her though.
In December 1964, this was released as the B-side of the Them single “Baby Please Don’ t Go,” which was a cover of a blues standard. “Gloria” gained traction when it became a highlight of the group’s live shows, sometimes developing into a 20-minute jam.
The song got little airplay in England, but found a following in America among the same garage rock audience that loved “Louie Louie.” In the US, it was first released (as the B-side) in March 1965, but was reissued as the A-side of the single in April 1966, which is when it charted at #71. It became the most well known song for the group, despite its humble beginnings.
At this stage in their career, session musicians played on Them’s records instead of the actual band, although Van Morrison did the real singing. One of these session players was Jimmy Page, who played guitar on this song. He did a lot of studio work before going on to fame with The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin.
The Shadows of Knight made a version that hit #10 in the US two years later. It became a very popular song to cover because it’s easy to play on guitar and contains an anthemic chorus (G-L-O-R-I-A).
Some of the other groups to record the song include I ragazzi del sole (1966), Blues Magoos (1967), Patti Smith (1975, with a line from her poem Oath added at the beginning: “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine”), The Doors (1983), Count Five (1991), Eddie & The Hot Rods (1997), Rickie Lee Jones (2001), Simple Minds (2001) and Popa Chubby (2001).
Van Morrison released his own version in 1974.
Courtesy of Songfacts
GLORIA - Lyrics Like to tell you 'bout my baby You know she comes around Just 'bout five feet-four A-from her head to the ground You know she comes around here At just about midnight She make me feel so good, Lord She make me feel all right And her name is G-L-O-R-I-A G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria! G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria! I'm gonna shout it all night Gloria! I'm gonna shout it every day Gloria! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah She comes around here Just about midnight She make me feel so good, Lord I want to say she make me feel all right Comes a-walkin' down my street Then she comes up to my house She knock upon my door And then she comes to my room Yeah, and she make me feel all right G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria! G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria! I'm gonna shout it all night Gloria! I'm gonna shout it every day Gloria! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah So good Gloria! All right Feels so good Gloria! All right, yeah Writer/s: Van Morrison Publisher: Warner Chappell Music, Inc. Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind