Blue on Black

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"Blue on Black"
Single by Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
from the album Trouble Is...
B-side "Blue on Black (The Road Mix)"/"Voodoo Child"
Released April 7, 1998 (1998-04-07)
Format CD
Genre Blues rock
Length 5:30
Producer(s) Jerry Harrison
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band singles chronology
"Somehow, Somewhere, Someway"
"Blue on Black"
"Everything Is Broken"

"Blue on Black" is a song by American blues rock band Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Written by Shepherd with songwriters Mark Selby (musician) and Tia Sillers, Noah Hunt provides the lead vocal. It is a single from their second studio album, Trouble Is..... Released on April 7, 1998, the track spent 42 weeks on the US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and rose to number one, remaining there for six non-consecutive weeks.

"Blue on Black" was regarded as the best rock song of 1998 by various media, including winning the Billboard Music Award for Rock Track of the Year and the song's popularity helped make Trouble Is... the 1999 Blues Album of the Year in Billboard. The song continues to be a top download of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd catalog, ranking at number one on Rhapsody.


"Blue on Black" features a simple acoustic guitar chord progression and ghostly lyrics with a faint echo. Its chorus incorporates a vocal harmony and simple yet bold lyrical hook. An electric guitar solo aids the song's rock edge. The subject matter deals with heartbreak and regret, as the narrator has just been through a tough break up. He laments that the loved one is gone but decides he cannot change the past. The lyrics incorporate comparative phrasing such as "Joker on jack/match on a fire/cold on ice/a dead man's touch." to emphasize inadequacy and regret.

Shepherd discussed the song's commercial significance in an interview:

The success at rock radio that we had early in my career, with 'Blue on Black,' I think we set a record. When that song was out, it definitely helped expose my music to a wider audience, and also, by gaining that exposure, then I get to turn a lot of those people on to the blues who may not have listened to the blues otherwise.[1]

As Shepherd's signature song, "Blue on Black" has been known to help close his concerts just prior to "Voodoo Child."[2] An exclusive cover of the latter song was also included on the "Blue on Black" CD single.

The song has been included on compilation albums such as Loaded with Hits (2000), Double Shot of Blues (2001), and Powered by Fender: The Players (2003). A live version was included on WCCC Live at Planet of Sound in 2005.

Awards and honors[edit]

"Blue on Black" was ranked the top rock song of 1998 by Billboard, the Album Network, and R&R. It also won the 1998 Billboard Music Award for Rock Track of the Year.

In honor of the hit single, the Martin Guitar Company issued its Kenny Wayne Shepherd Limited Edition Signature model JC-16KWS, a distinct jumbo model in dark blue, in January 2001. The guitar design was inspired by the imagery evoked in the song's lyrics.[3] Proceeds from the model were to be donated to Providence House, a Shreveport, Louisiana shelter and development program for homeless families with children.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Blue on Black" (The Road Mix)
  2. "Blue on Black"
  3. "Voodoo Child" (non-album track)

Cover Versions[edit]

"Blue on Black" was covered by Brent Smith and Zach Myers of American hard rock band Shinedown on their 2014 (Acoustic Sessions) EP.[4]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1998) Peak
Billboard Hot 100 78
US Mainstream Rock Tracks 1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peerless, Beth B.B. King, Joe Cocker, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Leon Russell top exemplary Santa Cruz Blues Festival lineup (May 21, 2009). Retrieved on 5-30-09.
  2. ^ Landers, Rick Kenny Wayne Shepherd Interview Archived October 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. (December 7, 2007). Retrieved on 5-30-09.
  3. ^ Martin Introduces Kenny Wayne Shepherd Jumbo[permanent dead link] (January 18, 2001). Retrieved on 5-30-09.
  4. ^ "Brent Smith & Zach Myers release Acoustic Covers EP". Retrieved 30 April 2014. 

External links[edit]