"Black" as written by Stone C. Gossard and Eddie Jerome Vedder....
Hey, oh
Sheets of empty canvas
Untouched sheets of clay
Were laid spread out before me
As her body once did
All five horizons
Revolved around her soul
As the earth to the sun
Now the air I tasted and breathed
Has taken a turn

Oh and all I taught her was everything
Oh I know she gave me all that she wore
And now my bitter hands
Chafe beneath the clouds
Of what was everything
Oh the pictures have
All been washed in black
Tattooed everything
I take a walk outside
I'm surrounded by
Some kids at play
I can feel their laughter
So why do I sear
Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin
Round my head
I'm spinning
Oh, I'm spinning
How quick the sun can, drop away

And now my bitter hands
Cradle broken glass
Of what was everything
All the pictures had
All been washed in black
Tattooed everything
All the love gone bad
Turned my world to black
Tattooed all I see
All that I am
All I'll be

Yeah
I know someday you'll have a beautiful life
I know you'll be a star
In somebody else's sky
But why
Why
Why can't it be
Why can't it be mine


Lyrics submitted by mike, edited by moogs51, dasfixer

"Black" as written by Stone C. Gossard, Eddie Jerome Vedder

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Black song meanings
Add your thoughts

511 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +15
    General CommentThe most honest and raw expression of such excruciating pain and longing that anyone who’s ever lost their greatest love can relate to.
    Jenillaon May 01, 2002   Link
  • +12
    General CommentThat is one of the saddest songs i've ever heard.But it reminds me of someone i wish i could forget.
    odell0883on March 09, 2002   Link
  • +10
    General CommentThis is the greatest song ever written, period. It is the most emotional gut wrenching form of self expression I have ever heard. Greatest band, greatest album, greatest song.
    hamjamon April 18, 2002   Link
  • +9
    General CommentThe part I love most in the song is where he says: "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I hope you'll be a star, in somebody else's sky, but why, why, can't be mine" it captures the the whole song in no more than a couple of lines. Eddie Vedder may just be the best writer of lyrics and music of our time!
    Joevanderscheron October 27, 2009   Link
  • +8
    General CommentThis song had become my anthem to a relationship that I ruined. The later realization that "she was the one and only" had made her loss unbearable for years.

    Twenty years we have reconciled as friends. Something I thought impossible.

    We were out with friends for dinner, listening to a great local band. A band that was friends with my band. During a break they asked me to come up a sing a set. We sang Black and I noticed "she" left in a hurry during the song. I closed the set early and hit the streets looking for her. She was across the street, sitting on the kerb, smoking her first cigarette in twenty years. She had always thought of us when she had heard this song and used to fantasize about me "growing up' and realizing what I had thrown away.

    We spent that night in a long list of unremarkable settings, saying very little to each other.

    We have literally never been apart since that night. She runs her business out of my office, we split time between her house in the city and my ranch in the foothills of the rocky mountains. We will continue this until her youngest finishes school.

    Her laugh and her smile are the same. She still sees the man in me I never thought I could be. The world has shifted on it's axis and turns only for us and her boys now. The confidence we have found within each other has benefited everyone around us.

    Many songs have clear, intended meanings. Sometimes they also have meanings, equally valid, that only resonate with one or two people. Who is to say they are wrong. I live in a different universe with the only person I was ever meant to be with, in large part because of an impromptu performance of this song.

    How can my interpretation be wrong, even if only one other person knows what that is?
    thecrossboneon May 02, 2013   Link
  • +7
    General Comment"i know someday you'll have a beautiful life, i know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky, but, why, why, why can't it be oh can't it be mine" one of the best set of lyrics ever written about love. So damn true. this song is amazing.
    LiveUrLifeon May 02, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General Commentthis song is about a bad breakup and him wanting her back no matter what, even tough he knows that she will be a "star" in someone elses sky.


    Hey . . . ooh . . .
    Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay
    Were laid spread out before me as her body once did
    All five horizons revolved around her soul
    As the earth to the sun
    Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn
    Ooh, and all I taught her was everything
    Ooh, I know she gave me all that she wore
    And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds
    Of what was everything?
    Oh, the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything

    - He is saying that his life revolved all around her "All five horizons revolved around her soul" and then something happened and she left him, altough she tryed to stay with him anyway at first "I know she gave me all that she wore"

    I take a walk outside, I'm surrounded by some kids at play
    I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear
    Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head
    I'm spinning, oh, I'm spinning

    - Even with all the joy and happiness in the world all around him, nothing but sadness and "twisted toughts" goes through his mind.

    How quick the sun can drop away
    And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass
    Of what was everything
    All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything
    All the love gone bad turned my world to black
    Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I'll be . . . yeah

    - The "sun" of his life, the girl, the happiness, etc, just dissapeared, and now in his hands, he cradles the broken glass of what was everything (the relationship he had with her, broke like a water globe) and now all of the pictures (memories) have been washed in black (given sad meanings, whenever he remembers those moments he feels intense sadness), "all the love gone bad turned my world to black" means something close to what i just wrote, now everything in the world to him is sad, nothing can cheer him up and that tattoed him, like a big scar that he will never forget, it is something that will change him forever.

    Uh huh . . . uh huh . . . ooh . . .
    I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star
    In somebody else's sky, but why
    Why, why can't it be, why can't it be mine?

    this one is just obvious, he knows that she will still be happy without him, and will make someone's life brighter, and he asks why it can't be his.


    i know the interpretation kinda killed the feeling of the song, but i just wanted to make it clear to everyone what it is saying.

    it might not be what i wrote, but i think it makes more sense than those abortion theories :p


    btw, one of my fav. songs of all time, cried so many tears to this masterpiece :')
    Ikilikuzon July 20, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General Commenti actually cried once while listening to this song...its so powerful...my favourite pearl jam song!
    fiendishlokion April 26, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIt's pretty obvious what this song is about... I agree that it's by far one of Pearl Jam's BEST songs... The last two lines.. AMAZING...
    maxpower114on February 08, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General Commentpearl jam kicks!! and this song proves it! some of the most powerful lyrics i have ever herd! the feeling of loss is something noone should have to bear,i have--and i hate to see other peoples pain! its a terrible feeling,but eddie sings it with perfection! love this song!
    Nothingman3001on May 21, 2002   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain