"Paint It Black" - Have you always assumed the singer is a teenager or an adult?

In this thread, another poster cited “Paint It Black” as a song about teenage angst. I disagreed, in part because I never considered the singer to be a teen.

Then I started wondering if I was in the minority on this.

So, poll.

I always considered the singer to be Mick Jagger and that the song was about depression or dark evil thoughts in general.

I never thought of it as about teen angst. My impressions are identical to yours.

It’s a song about a loved one dying. Never thought of it as teenaged angst, not even when I was a teenager.

I like the song a lot, but I don’t think I ever put my finger on the singer’s age. Forced to guess, I’d probably say late teen, early twenties. The singer’s love has apparently died young: he could not foresee such a thing happening to her. And he is saddened by the “girls” going by in their summer clothes. This makes me think he’s comparing their youth to the lost youth of his love. So I figure he’s also relatively young.

I also don’t see this as an angst song. The guy’s girlfriend has died and is being carried away in a black hearse. All the color and light has gone out of his life and he wants the whole world to be as black as his grief.

Did she, in fact, die? Or was the singer being figurative?

I don’t find it age-centric.

I also thought that it might be about a break-up, but on checking the lyrics they do imply a death:

Sounds like a funeral procession.

If it were a break-up, he would have said “us” instead of “you” (but of course that would need a different rhyme).

This is my read too.

No more will my green sea resemble oozing pus
I could not foresee this thing happening to us

Yeah, I can see why they went the way they did.

Hmm, interesting point. I’ve always heard it as a breakup song, which is why I found it melodramatic and teenager-y. If it is really about death (as a closer read seems to indicate), maybe I should reconsider.

Same here; I never realized the loved one was dead.
God, I’m shallow.

I assume all rock from the 50s and 60s (and most from later eras too) were written from the POV of a teenager, no matter how old the songwriter actually was at the time of writing the song.

Yeah, me too. I was in my late teens when that song came out and was thoroughly of beer-addled mind and girl-crazy. Outside of those two things and the job that life forced me to have I didn’t give much thought to anything else. I read it as the cars and flowers only looked black through the protagonist’s heartbroken eyes, and the thing he couldn’t foresee was her falling out of love and deciding to leave him. It’s real meaning is so obvious now that I’m embarrassed I never caught on. So, uh, thanks, Dope!

It always seemed to me like his girlfriend was dead. I never thought about what age he was supposed to be.

Fifties? Maybe. Sixties? Hell no.

I’m very good at remembering lyrics, and genuinely knowing what they’re all about, but I never really gave this song much thought: although I love it!

I thought it was some kind of anti-war/Viet Nam type of song and that’s about it.


And mine.

“A red door” is an open grave with reddish brown soil.

It was used as the theme song of the TV show Tour of Duty, which may be one reason for that association (if you ever saw that show).

I think I’ve seen a few episodes, but I’ve known the song for probably 15 years before that show aired.

Still, that could definitely be how I formed the connection.