The only challenge to this week’s Song Lyric Sunday is to try and NOT pick more than one song. When you are looking at a list of 500 songs, of which many are your own personal favorites, it is easier said than done. Anyway, I failed my own test and I picked two for different reasons.
First I have chosen Brown Eyed Girl by my favorite artist, Van Morrison. It is song that always makes me smile whenever I hear it. All these years later, I never get tired of hearing it.
My second song is Paint it, Black by the Rolling Stones. I think the song is amazing and it brings back a lot of very cool memories.
Song Number 1 – Listed at 109
This was originally called “Brown Skinned Girl,” and was about an interracial relationship. Morrison changed it to “Brown Eyed Girl” to make it more palatable for radio stations. Some stations banned it anyway for the line, “Making love in the green grass.”
This was Morrison’s first release as a solo artist; he was previously with the group Them. The song appeared on his debut solo album Blowin’ Your Mind! and again on his 1973 compilation T.B. Sheets. It’s one of Morrison’s most enduring songs, but he thinks a lot less of it than most of the public. In 2009 he explained to Time magazine: “‘Brown Eyed Girl’ I didn’t perform for a long time because for me it was like a throwaway song. I’ve got about 300 other songs I think are better than that.”
In the third verse, the line, “Making love in the green grass,” was overdubbed with a line from the first verse, “Laughin‚ and a-runnin‚” to make it more radio-friendly. The 1990 Best Of Van Morrison CD released the censored version, apparently by someone unaware that there were two versions.
his was a hit during the “Summer Of Love,” when hippie culture bloomed in the US and the song provided a fitting soundtrack. Morrison, however, wanted nothing to do with this scene and was horrified when the album was released with a psychedelic-looking cover.
Hey where did we go Days when the rains came Down in the hollow Playin' a new game Laughing and a running hey, hey Skipping and a jumping In the misty morning fog with Our hearts a thumpin' and you My brown eyed girl You're my brown eyed girl Whatever happened To Tuesday and so slow Going down the old mine With a transistor radio Standing in the sunlight laughing Hiding behind a rainbow's wall Slipping and sliding All along the water fall, with you My brown eyed girl You're my brown eyed girl Do you remember when we used to sing Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da Just like that Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da, la te da So hard to find my way Now that I'm all on my own I saw you just the other day My how you have grown Cast my memory back there, Lord Sometime I'm overcome thinking 'bout Making love in the green grass Behind the stadium with you My brown eyed girl You're my brown eyed girl Do you remember when we used to sing Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da (lying in the green grass) Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da (bit, bit, bit, bit, bit, bit) Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da (sha la la la la la) Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da Writer/s: Van Morrison Publisher: BMG Rights Management, Kanjian Music, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind
Song Number 2 – Listed at 174
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.”
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.”
Courtesy of Songfacts