“I Took My Baby
On A Saturday Bang
Boy Is That Girl With You
Yes We’re One And The Same
Now I Believe In Miracles
And A Miracle
Has Happened Tonight
About My Baby
It Doesn’t Matter If You’re
Black Or White” – Black or White
Michael Jackson’s song Black or White released in 1991 was inspired by INXS. In 1982 INXS released a song titled Black and White on their Shabooh Shoobah album. Of course, having met INXS before meeting MJ in ’83 I pretty much knew all their songs.
With Michael Hutchence and Tim Farris, we talked about the similarities in our countries in that we shared a history of racism. It was also a conversation I had with MJ. Fortunately, I grew up in a South that was changing. We talked about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march on Selma, Alabama. I wanted to break down the barriers of symbols which were found offensive. Symbols used in the Black or White music video were “KKK” and the swastika.
(Martin Luther King, Jr. and marchers on Selma, AL. The photo was taken by family friend and fashion photographer Spider Martin who committed suicide 9 years to the day that Kurt Cobain’s body was found. )
By the time of MJ’s release of Black or White, I had written the song “Raise Your Glass” which would go on to be performed by P!nk. Kurt Cobain would sometimes play air guitar while I would sing and it influenced “Raise Your Glass” and Macaulay Culkin was doing an imitation of Kurt in the Black or White music video.
Kurt also made references to the KKK or other symbols of controversy because of this.
“I am the shadow, and the smoke in your eyes,
I am the ghost, that hides in the night” – Diamond Eyes performed by Shinedown
The idea for the song Diamond Eyes goes back to all the artists using an eye as cover art for the albums and even Michael Hutchence using it as the artwork for the movie Frankenstein Unbound.
It also goes back even further to when I met Kurt Cobain. I remember thinking he was the first person I had ever met with eyes like mine. Being adopted I couldn’t look at the family who raised me and know my hair color was passed from a particular person or my eyes from another. I told Kurt he was very lucky to be able to look at his family and know these things about himself.
This was not the first time I had referenced someone’s eyes in a song. When I wrote Mystify for INXS I was referring to Michael Hutchence’s brown eyes with, “almond looks”.
Publicly Shinedown’s lead singer, Brent Smith, said this about the song:
“A few months ago we got a phone call from a very interesting individual. It’s not everyday that Rambo and Rocky call you at the same time. Sylvester Stallone wanted a song for his new movie, called The Expendables. He said write me something that will personify not only the South, but what rock truly is.”
Actually, this goes back to Tommy Lee of Motley Crue giving me the nickname Bullwinkle when I was 15 and William Grey taking the nickname “Rocky”. The song itself was written long before a movie was developed called The Expendables starring Sylvester Stallone.
This particular song has many ties to others, including The Deftones which I wrote the song “Change” for and the Foo Fighters song I wrote called “Walk”. The lyrics “paper mountains” in Walk is a continuation of the theme “paper flowers” in Imaginary performed by Evanescence and “Paper Sun” a song I wrote for Def Leppard.