Paint It Black

One of the b sides to Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, U2 released a cover of Paint It Black in 1992. A cover of an old Rolling Stones song, a song which has apparently been covered by every man and his dog since it was originally released. They covered many of those old bands many years ago, in the period from The Joshua Tree to Achtung Baby and beyond. Some of them worked well, some of them didn’t. Personally I think this version is okay, although I’m not a Stones fan and don’t really know their music, so I don’t have much else to compare it to. I vaguely remember the original, but even then I could be mistaken, it might be someone else’s version that I’ve heard and think is the original.

The Stones I think were one of those bands I just missed out on, a little later than the Beatles but still too early for me. I essentially heard their greatest hits as I was growing up, even when they were releasing new albums at the time. They’re one of the few bands with the longevity of U2, although of course they have had a huge turnover of members, something that U2 has never dealt with. By this point in their careers I doubt that U2 would survive the loss of a single member, they’ve been together so long it wouldn’t feel right swapping out any one of them. Even last year when they missed Bono because of his accident, it was weird seeing Springsteen and Chris Martin on the stage as his replacement. Maybe it would be easier with one of the others, given how integral to the group Bono is. Not that I want to see it happen to any of them.

I think the Stones nowadays are a parody of themselves. Keith Richards is a joke, a figure of fun for late-night talk show hosts. Mick Jagger is an elder statesman of rock, also known as an old geezer who still thinks he’s a kid. He does his prancing around still, but it’s really just ridiculous now. A few years ago he came on stage with U2 and sang a duet, Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of. I must admit that this is one of the very few live U2 performances that I skip through, that even though I like the song I can’t stand hearing his voice on the recording.

I really don’t get what the song is about, and I don’t get why U2 would sing it. At some point I think it’s a funeral (the line of cars painted black), but then there’s the girls in their summer clothes, which doesn’t match that. And I don’t see why they want to paint a red door black either. The only line I really like is “If I look hard enough into the setting sun, my love will laugh with me before the morning comes,” which I do see as something that Bono could have written.

My rating for Paint It Black: 3 / 10