Pirate Ships, the Rolling Stones and ‘Paint It Black’

Well, I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas festivities. Although I said we would be home alone this year, that didn’t turn out to be the case, as we were actually invited out in the end and didn’t have to do any cooking on the day at all. It was also quite reassuring to see my sister-in-law getting in a bit of a flap over the serving up of the turkey and trimmings, as I thought that only happened to me. Even the best home cooks find it a challenge to coordinate the roasting, heating, boiling and stirring of so many dishes at the same time it seems.

DD had a lovely time at her boyfriend’s parents, but of course we are now teasing them that next year it will be their turn, so we can all be together. Watch this space. Problem is the bar has been raised in terms of what is served up nowadays. Back in the day my granny made Christmas dinner for 15 of us, and it was delicious, but that was before the era of the ‘celebrity chef’ Christmas Cookbook and of: three types of stuffing; red cabbage; sprouts with chestnuts; and gluten-free/vegan options. It’s all got a bit more complicated.

100 years ago many of us could only afford root vegetables for Christmas dinner – Now some of us choose them.

The good thing about eating early-ish elsewhere, is that you still have a fair chunk of evening when you get home and our Christmas presents beckoned. As ever there were a few ‘makes’ in our stockings so I started work on my new jigsaw and Mr WIAA got down to creating the Black Pearl, courtesy of his traditional gift of an Airfix kit. Down at the other end of the country DD was putting together a scene from her latest Lego set (yes, Lego for adults is now a big thing apparently, as well as Airfix kits). Three days later and two of us have finished their ‘make’. One of us still has a fair way to go…

But this is a music blog, and although I had no idea what the featured song might be when I started out with this one, as often happens, it has fallen into my lap. Anyone who has watched the Pirates of the Caribbean film series will know the Black Pearl is a ship, and that actor Johnny Depp plays Captain Jack Sparrow, an eccentric pirate characterised by his slightly drunken swagger, slurred speech and flailing hand gestures. Initially Sparrow was just supposed to act a bit cocky, but after researching 18th century pirates, Johnny compared them to modern rock stars and decided to base his performance on Keith Richards.

Keith has even appeared in the film franchise with Johnny, playing his father.

The song that fell into my lap was this one, Paint It Black, by the Rolling Stones. I’m not often quite so literal when it comes to song choice, but Mr WIAA did paint his model black and it was the ship captained by a character inspired by the song’s co-writer, Keith Richards.

I’ve said around here before that I’ve never really been a fan of the Rolling Stones which will probably come as no surprise to regular visitors to this place, but I can’t help but be impressed by their longevity as a band. I was saddened to hear of the death of Charlie Watts earlier on this year but in true Stones’ fashion, after a short break, their tour carried on without him. I am fond of some of their songs though, and this is one of them. It reached the top of the UK Singles Chart in 1966 and it was the first time they made use of the Indian sitar. Some critics thought they were trying to copy their rivals the Beatles, but Brian Jones had a background with the instrument, after studying with Ravi Shankar, so it was only a matter of time before it happened. As ever with Stones’ songs, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive explanation as to the meaning behind the lyrics, but it does seem to be about grief and loss of sorts.

Paint It Black by the Rolling Stones:


Here we are at the end of 2021 and looking at his DOB, it seems Keith has just turned 78. I’m fairly sure no-one back in 1966 would have thought the Stones would still be going strong over 55 years later. Like the 18th century pirate however, they are other-worldly. They are the stuff of legend, and certainly don’t look like any of the grandads (great-grandads?) I know. We’re entering totally new territory where some of the ‘pop stars’ of the 1960s might well keep going as energetic octogenarians. Whatever their secret is, I wish they would share it.

Until next time.

Paint It Black Lyrics
(Song by Mick Jagger/Keith Richards)

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colours anymore, I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by, dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

I see a line of cars and they’re all painted black
With flowers and my love both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a newborn baby, it just happens every day

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door, I must have it painted black
Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts
It’s not easy facing up when your whole world is black

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not foresee this thing happening to you
If I look hard enough into the setting sun
My love will laugh with me before the morning comes

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colours anymore, I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by, dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

Hmm, hmm, hmm…

I wanna see it painted, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black

Yeah!

Hmm, hmm, hmm…

Postscript:

For the record, I did complete my jigsaw a few days later and here is my Christmas 2021 effort.