Keith Richards once said the Rolling Stones “seemed to be ahead” of the trend when they wrote “Paint It Black”

The Rolling Stones hit one of their many peaks in 1966. They had “Get Off My Cloud” and “(I Can’t Get no) Satisfaction” top the charts in the second half of 1965. A year later , and the Rolling Stones saw “Paint It Black” reach No. 1 and become one of the band’s top Billboard hits. Stones guitarist Keith Richards once admitted the song started out as a joke, but he also said “Paint It Black” was ahead of its time in some ways.

Keith Richards at a Rolling Stones concert in 1981 | Archives Hulton/Getty Images

“Paint It Black” was the first single from the Rolling Stones debut album that contained only originals

The Rolling Stones released some of their best work years later, but Consequences was a notable highlight in one major way: it was the first album where the Stones wrote all the songs. Until then, the band’s albums liberally mixed covers with originals.

“Paint it black” was Consequencesand with it, the Rolling Stones spent two consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Pretty impressive for a song that, according to Keith Richards, started out as a joke towards the Stones’ first manager.

The recorded version expanded a bit to include a simple rhythm, a moody tone and elements of oriental music. It may have started as a joke, but Richards also said “Paint It Black” was ahead of its time when it was released in 1966.

Keith Richards said “Paint It Black” was “cynical, mean, skeptical and rude” before other bands were.

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The Rolling Stones have spent most of their 60 years as a band touring almost non-stop. This included a disastrous concert in December 1969 at Altamont Speedway in California. Four people died, including one who was stabbed by the Hell’s Angels as he attempted to take the stage. It was one of the most tragic concerts of all time and the dark end to a decade defined by peace and love.

But the Rolling Stones seemed to be ahead of the trend with “Paint It Black.” The band apparently foretold darkness, doubt and wickedness years before they got to the late 1960s, as Richards once said, per Far magazine:

“Cynical, mean, skeptical, rude. We seemed to be ahead in that regard at the time. There were problems in America; all these young American children, they were drafted in Vietnam.

Keith Richard described the Rolling Stones hit “Paint It Black”

With lines such as “I see a line of cars / And they’re all painted black / With flowers and my love / The two will never return” and “I look inside / And see that my heart is black / I see my door red / I gotta get it painted black,” the 1966 hit predates the nihilism that arrived in the 1970s.

Whether Mick Jagger intended to drop a bombshell of negativity or not, Richards singled out “Paint It Black” as the opening salvo of a cynical decade years before its launch.

What did Paul McCartney think of the Rolling Stones when he was with the Beatles?

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As England’s two biggest bands in the 1960s, many fans pitted the Rolling Stones and the Beatles as rivals, but that wasn’t the reality.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon gave the Stones “I Wanna Be Your Man”, which was one of their first hit songs. Later, the Fab Four invited former Stones guitarist Brian Jones to play on one of their final singles (which was released after Jones’ death).

The goodwill went both ways. Jagger had a strong reaction when he first heard “Hey Jude.” And there’s a chance Jagger sang along to a Beatles song when the two bands shared a recording session in 1967.

Some elements of a rivalry remain, however. Not so long ago, McCartney said the Beatles were better than the Stones. Yet the Fab Four never quite telegraphed a decade of discontent, much like Richards and the Rolling Stones did with “Paint It Black.”

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