Rolling Stones - Paint it Black - 1966


Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones is a classic rock song released in 1966. It became famous for its darkly themed lyrics and distinctive sitar riff, showcasing a fusion of rock and eastern music influences. Let's delve into the fascinating aspects of this song, its background, and its impact on music history.


Paint It Black was released as a single by The Rolling Stones and later included in their 1966 album "Aftermath." The song was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the band's primary songwriting duo. The song's lyrics are noted for their dark tone, expressing feelings of grief and loss. Brian Jones' use of the sitar on the track was one of the first instances of a rock band incorporating Indian instruments, adding a unique sound that set it apart from contemporary rock songs.

Musical Composition

The song's musical composition is particularly notable for its Eastern influences. The use of the sitar, played by Brian Jones, was groundbreaking at the time and contributed significantly to the song's haunting and melancholic atmosphere. The track also features a rhythmic pattern that was unusual in Western pop music at the time, further emphasizing its innovative nature.

Cultural Impact

"Paint It Black" is often cited as an influence in the development of psychedelic rock. Its success helped popularize the use of non-Western instruments in rock music, paving the way for other bands to experiment with diverse sounds. The song's introspective lyrics and unique sound make it a staple of classic rock and an enduring symbol of the 1960s counterculture movement.

Further Reading

  1. The Rolling Stones
  2. Psychedelic Rock
  3. Sitar in Western Music
  4. 1960s Counterculture

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

What year was "Paint It Black" released? (1966) (!1970) (!1964) (!1969)

Which instrument used in "Paint It Black" was unusual for Western pop music at the time? (Sitar) (!Guitar) (!Harmonica) (!Drums)

Who wrote "Paint It Black"? (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards) (!Brian Jones and Mick Jagger) (!Keith Richards and Charlie Watts) (!Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts)

What album features "Paint It Black"? (Aftermath) (!Beggars Banquet) (!Let It Bleed) (!Sticky Fingers)

How did "Paint It Black" contribute to music history? (It influenced the development of psychedelic rock) (!It was the first rock song to use a guitar) (!It introduced electronic music to rock) (!It was the first rock song to feature a drum solo)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

Which band performed "Paint It Black"? (The Rolling Stones) (!The Beatles) (!The Who) (!Pink Floyd)

Who played the sitar in "Paint It Black"? (Brian Jones) (!Mick Jagger) (!Keith Richards) (!Charlie Watts)

In what decade did The Rolling Stones become prominent? (1960s) (!1950s) (!1970s) (!1980s)

What genre is most associated with The Rolling Stones? (Rock) (!Jazz) (!Pop) (!Country)

Which of the following songs is also by The Rolling Stones? (Sympathy for the Devil) (!Hey Jude) (!Bohemian Rhapsody) (!Stairway to Heaven)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What color is repeatedly mentioned in "Paint It Black"? (Black) (!Red) (!Blue) (!Green)

The lyrics of "Paint It Black" express feelings of... (Grief and loss) (!Joy and happiness) (!Love and romance) (!Anger and rebellion)

What does the singer want to paint black? (Various things to match his mood) (!A picture of his love) (!The sky and the sun) (!His house and car)

The line "I see a red door and I want it painted black" suggests... (A desire to change or cover up something bright) (!A preference for darker colors in general) (!Confusion between colors) (!A love for red doors)

The mood of "Paint It Black" can be described as... (Melancholic and haunting) (!Uplifting and cheerful) (!Energetic and fast-paced) (!Romantic and soft)


Year of Release 1966
Main Instrument Sitar
Album Aftermath
Band The Rolling Stones
Songwriter Duo Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

Open Tasks


  1. Research the 1960s: Explore the cultural and musical landscape of the 1960s to understand the context in which "Paint It Black" was created.
  2. Listen and Reflect: Listen to "Paint It Black" and describe how the music and lyrics make you feel.
  3. Instruments in Rock Music: Identify other rock songs that use non-traditional instruments like the sitar.


  1. Compare and Contrast: Compare "Paint It Black" to another Rolling Stones song and discuss the differences and similarities in themes and music.
  2. Music Genre Exploration: Explore other songs from the psychedelic rock genre and identify common characteristics.
  3. Song Analysis: Analyze the lyrics of "Paint It Black" and discuss the themes of grief and loss.


  1. Create a Cover Version: Create your own cover version of "Paint It Black" using a different musical style.
  2. Historical Context: Research the historical events of the 1960s and discuss how they might have influenced the themes in "Paint It Black".
  3. Musical Influence Essay: Write an essay on how "Paint It Black" influenced the development of psychedelic rock.

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Oral Exam

  1. Musical Evolution: Discuss how "Paint It Black" represents a shift in musical style for The Rolling Stones and the broader rock genre.
  2. Cultural Significance: Explain the cultural significance of "Paint It Black" in the context of the 1960s.
  3. Instrumental Innovation: Discuss the impact of introducing the sitar in rock music, using "Paint It Black" as a reference.
  4. Lyric Interpretation: Interpret the lyrics of "Paint It Black" in the context of personal and societal grief.
  5. Comparative Analysis: Compare "Paint It Black" to a contemporary song, focusing on thematic and musical differences.

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