"Black" is the fifth song of Pearl Jam's debut album, Ten. The song's lyrics were written by vocalist Eddie Vedder and its music written by guitarist Stone Gossard and is one of the most popular and liked songs of the band's career. The song implies a dark background of a lost love and the heartbreak of the protagonist who keep remembering his lost lover.
When Vedder received a tape with demos from Stone, Jeff and Mike, he recorded three songs and composed a trilogy (The Momma-Son) but only sent it in another tape. There was another song, recorded by Gossard, named E Ballad. Eddie didn't send any composition to the trio about this specific Stone's demo, but on his way to Seattle, he wrote the lyrics.
The new song, now called "Black" was a romantic, depressive, emotional and past love story. Vedder stated on Pearl Jam Twenty that "it's a true story, something that I really felt and I still feel every time I sing it". It is also speculated that the woman whose song is based is Liz Gumble, Eddie's girlfriend on Junior Year, someone he had a deep and romantic relationship. When they broke up, Vedder was pretty sad, and after that he moved to Chicago and his life started to change, specially in what deals with his family.
The song deals with the main character singing about someone loved in the past and remembering moments of happiness. The protagonist states that the relationship was worthy, since both could learn from each other but unfortunately it had an end. Now, the person feels alone and standing before the past and sees that everything has gone dark.
The unhappiness is also stated when not even the most beautiful and positive background can touch the protagonist's heart and make him blissful, because he feels pain holding the remains of the relationship. All the evidences of the existence of their love was "tattooed" in black after everything went bad and his world descent into darkness. This mark is said to be permanent, since it is everywhere, at the time the protagonist sings and forever.
In the end, even though the main character is forever devastated for his loss, he wishes the other person luck and to be special and unique in someone's life, but yet he mourns why can't he be the one who can make her happy.
Music & LyricsEdit
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 that 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 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 that I'll be, yeah
Uh huh, uh huh, oh
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, can't it be mine
- After MTV Unplugged in 1992, Vedder added the line "We belong together...together!" in the end of the song, which was widely acceptable and it's repeated until today. Eddie now sings "We didn't belong together...together!" as if to incinuate that he has found love elsewhere and realizes their relationship needed to take the course it did.