The words “black” and “white” can mean different things. The songs listed below don’t care about the literal, every day meaning of black and white as colors but rather about life experiences: awareness, determination, equality, sanity, mood swings.
Tool — Lateralus
Trying to dissect the meaning of a song from the band Tool is just as difficult as it was trying to completely understand Shakespeare back in high school. Just like a perfectly written poem, each line carries with it deep meaning and open to many interpretations. The opening lines of Lateralus are: “Black then white are all I see in my infancy. Red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me.” This can be interpreted to mean that we are born understanding the world as good versus evil but then develop to comprehend there are “shades of grey.”
Black then white are all I see in my infancy.
red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me.
lets me see.
As below, so above and beyond, I imagine
drawn beyond the lines of reason.
Push the envelope. Watch it bend.
Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind.
Michael Jackson — Black or White
We lost the king of pop Michael Jackson in 2009, but not before Jackson released hit albums and made his mark in the music world. He was known for his fight against racism and Black or White is one of the most fun and upbeat songs ever written about all races being equal. The song’s video features actor Macaulay Culkin, who later became the godfather of Michael Jackson’s child
The song is featured in Jackson’s 8th studio album Dangerous (1991). The song says that race doesn’t matter, whether you are talking about dating or friendship. Everyone is equal.
Dangerous stayed at the top for a month. Black or White was written by Michael Jackson.
Black or White excerpt:
About My Baby
It Doesn’t Matter If You’re
Black Or White
INXS – Black and White
Australian rock band INXS was formed in 1977. Black and White is from the 3rd INXS album called Shabooh Shooba, released in 1982.It was also the first INXS album that got a worldwide release.
The band lost front man Michael Hutchence in 1997, but the band continued with new singer Jon Stevens from 2000 to 2003 and then with J.D. Fortune from 2005.
This is not a song on racism but a guy asking the girl to make up her mind about him.
Black and White excerpt:
Could be clear black and white
Make a decision
Got a need inside and I don’t know why
It’s a strong feeling that grows and grows
One day – my life is out the door
Next day – you show me what it’s for
One day – I think I know myself
Next day – you leave me on the shelf
Crowded House – Black & White Boy
Black & White is featured in Crowded House‘s 4th album Together Alone, which went on to reach number 1 in New Zealand (where the singer is from), number 2 in Australia (hometown for the other Crowded House members) and number 6 in the UK.
Black & White Boy is about a guy whose moods are extreme, who is either very upbeat or very depressed. The singer is reminding him about the grey areas in life. Music and lyrics belong to front man Neil Finn.
Black & White Boy excerpt:
Black and white boy
You’re so extreme
You’re so confused
Color me in whatever mood I’m in
I could be still in touch with you
And you’re full of the wonder of spring
It’s all sweetness and lightness you bring
And a room full of people fall to your infinite charm
But when darkness should quickly descend
You go quietly, my miserable friend
To the depths of despair you will crawl
Black and white boy
Matchbox 20- Black & White People
Black & White People is the second track from the band’s 2nd album Mad Season, released in 2000. This song is more about sanity and reminds of the movie Pleasantville where two siblings found themselves in a black and white world where there was no color? After all, the song’s lyrics feature “And the Technicolor dreams Of black and white people” . It was written by singer Rob Thomas.
Black & White People excerpt:
If it’s just that you’re weak
Can we talk about it
It’s gettin’ so damn creepy
Just nursing this ghost of chance
The fiction, the romance
And the Technicolor dreams
Of black and white people
One boy head strong
Thinks that living here’s just plain
He’s pushed down so hard
You can hear him start to sink