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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 316
Tues, Nov 27, 2012

“Paint It, Black
The Rolling Stones

1966

“♫ I see
the girls go
by dressed in
their summer
clothes/ I have
to turn my
head until
my darkness
goes
♫”

Although not my favorite vintage 1960’s Stones cut, I’ve had “Paint It Black” in my head since I watched the premiere showing of Crossfire Hurricane documentary celebrating 50 years of one of the most dangerously successful rock and roll bands in history—The Rolling Stones. Brett Morgan who superbly directed Robert Evans documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture, turned the Stones lives into a living and breathing visual canvas of hits, trips and memories all rolled into a film that’s perfectly documented in Crossfire Hurricane.

Brilliantly directed by Bret Morgan, Crossfire Hurricane tells the unparalleled journey of our favorite rock band from its blues obsessed teenagers in the early sixties inception to The Stones undisputed status as bad boys of rock royalty. The specific scene featuring “Paint It Black” starts off in Paris with a bunch of kids pounding the stage waiting for The Stones to hit the stage. Morgan edited the kids pounding with Charlie Watts clever drum beat of “Paint It Black.” The amazing thing is I can still feel the pulsating beats in my head from Hurricane and makes me want to hear “Paint, It Black” again. Well done, Mr. Morgan.

We’d been doing it with funky rhythms and it hadn’t worked, and he started playing like this and everybody got behind it. It’s a two-beat, very strange. Brian playing the sitar makes it a whole other thing.” Keith Richards said discussing how “Paint, It Black” was crafted in the studio. Did you know that “Paint It Black” was birthed in a recording session as a comedy track? Keith Richards explained when he said, “What’s amazing about that one for me is the sitar. Also, the fact that we cut it as a comedy track. Bill was playing an organ, doing a takeoff of our first manager who started his career in show business as an organist in a cinema pit.”

Bill’s organ must have been otherworldly because even though Richards gave Brian Jones props for his sitar strings as the inspiration for “Black” in 1966, in 2003 Keef admitted, “I must say in retrospect that what actually made ‘Paint It Black” was Bill Wyman on the organ, because it didn’t sounds anything like the finished record until Bill said, “You go like this.”

But what about those wicked drumbeats that literally created the pounding scene in Crossfire Hurricane almost 50 years later. Charlie Watts discussed the drums of “Paint, It Black” when he said, “On “Paint It Black” the drum pattern might have been suggested by Mick and by listening to “Going to a Go Go.” Engineers never liked recording ride cymbals in those days, We all used to have the kind that Art Blakey used, with the inch-long or so rivets, so the cymbals would cover everything, and the engineers would go mad.

I like to think the engineers went mad because of the pop flavored darkness The Stones created with “Paint, It Black” Keith Richards once called “Paint It Black,” “That song is another one of those semi-gypsy melodies we used to come up with back then. I don’t know where they come from. Must be in the blood.” “Paint, It Black” was a turning point. This was before Mick and Keith decided to dance while discovering “Sympathy for The Devil.” Mick Jagger pointed out, “Paint It Black is very good and very different. It has that Turkish groove that was really out of nowhere and something to do with Brian helping the song move along by playing sitar, which gave that record a particular flavor.”

Whatever your taste for classic Rolling Stones cuts, “Paint, It Black” is the right hit for you. Resurrected in one of my favorite scenes in Brett Morgan’s new documentary Crossfire Hurricane, “Paint, It Black’s” pop song decent into rhythmic darkness never went out of style; In fact, these “Paint, It Black” aftershock sound tracked a generation of trouble for The Rolling Stones through the mischevious 1970’s and beyond.

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