Friday, 31 October 2014

Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones


The artist:
Mick Jagger, front man of The Rolling Stones, and I share much in common. We both have walked somewhere in the vicinity of the London School of Economics at some point, although if you believe the ‘Notable people’ section of LSE’s Wikipedia page his drop out doss-about years are worth more to the institution than my fully completed MSc. Also we were both at Glastonbury in 2013, but we didn’t meet, and I missed him play because he was playing too far away.

The album:
Aftermath 
(American version) (1966) 

Confusingly only the Americans were considered worthy of having Paint It Black on the Stones’ fourth album. The rest of us had to do with Mother’s Little Helper, a bit like when Ryan Giggs would get injured and United would bring in Quinton Fortune.

On the plus side, the album does come with two misogynistic anthems in Stupid Girl and Under My Thumb. It’s comforting to know that some 50 years later Jagger still has an influence with students at his Alma mater.

The vibe:
An ill-fated cavalry charge which you don’t realise is ill-fated at the time – if he had an iPod, you could just imagine Napoleon cruising to Paint It Black on his way to Russia, for example.

Lyrics:
I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colours any more, 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 every day

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door 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 colours any more, 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

Hmm, hmm, hmm,..

I wanna see it painted, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black

Yeah!

Hmm, hmm, hmm...

Annotation:
On first listen Mick Jagger certainly comes across as a man of very specific and fairly restrictive taste when it comes to matters of d├ęcor and fashion – a purveyor of mourning chic or something along those lines. Frequent references to one specific colour leads you to believe this is the case – but, listen a little closer and you soon learn that he’s perhaps not as obsessive as first appears.

In fact there is only thing that he actually specifically wants to be black: his front door, unhappy with the current shade of red and other assorted colours. I can sympathise – red can often be garish and unnecessary where a more understated and civilised ‘Number 10’ look would do the trick. He later explains that the specific shade he is seeking is night/coal – classic black in other words. Refined; classy.

Eiw
Also on Jagger’s mind is the inherent shyness of the British psyche, no doubt chuckling to himself as he notes the irony of strangers avoiding eye contact on the street in the same way he does when he gets shy around a group of girls. Curiosity about both staring directly into the sun and developing a Mr Burns style device to block out its rays further indicate his daydreaming state of mind.

But with the loss of some flowers and a significant other, his DIY ambitions have became the primary focus of his attention. In many ways, this is healthy – relationship experts would probably advise taking up hobbies in those lonely quieter moments, and work around the house leaves a man with a sense of productivity and achievement.

Jagger explains that the inspiration for his choice comes from a moment where he happened upon a coincidental row of identically coloured cars. Seeking further confirmation that this is a ‘sign’, he misinterprets an X-Ray scan at a later hospital appointment, not realising that the black space where his organs are supposed to be doesn’t actually represent his organs. Nonetheless he has happily settled on his choice of colour for the front door. 


That ain't your heart, Mick

Conclusion:
Like so many popular musicians’ anecdotes, Paint It Black fails to come to a satisfactory conclusion, and we are left wondering whether Jagger was able to acquire the necessary supplies to paint his front door. In case he still hasn’t got round to it, 46 years later, I made some enquiries to establish the best product on the market.

The Valspar range is
available exclusively at B&Q.
Mick should pop into his local branch to
ensure the tone is just right. 
Quickest to get back to me was a helpful Scottish gentleman from B&Q, who assures me that he can “recommend one paint and one paint only” for the job, and that's the Valspar Exterior Wood & Metal. Advising that Mick take the requisite time to prepare the paint properly first, the Scot is confident that 2.5 litres was "more than enough" to cover the front door. He can get this at a slightly pricey £39.99 (£15.97 per litre), but with Jagger’s fortune estimated at £200m, he might consider the extra outlay a worthwhile investment. Critically, when it comes to starting the job proper, Mick must ensure he paints the contact surfaces first i.e. the slim side that goes on the hinges, the bit that touches the latch etc. I forget why, but apparently this is important.

However should finance ultimately be an issue, then he may be better off opting for the smaller quantity Wickes Exterior Gloss, with 750ml available for £14.99. Gloss is recommended over a matte finish, as scratches and general wear and tear tend not to show quite as clearly. 

Homebase didn't get back to me.

Nonetheless part of me believes that all those years ago Jagger did manage to identify the paint he desired and completed the job to a satisfactory standard. I certainly hope so - this song really had me rooting for him and his decorative ambitions, the cute little misunderstanding at the hospital only endearing him to me further. And as Aftermath reaches its conclusion, the final track Goin’ Home perhaps give us a little nod and a wink towards his success: I’m goin’ home … I just can’t wait, I just can’t wait. Is that because there’s something shiny and black greeting you when you get there, Mick? 

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