Interpretations of Palomino

This week, for my weekly analysis of Duran song lyrics, I decided to tackle the song, Palomino off of the Big Thing album.  Why choose this song of all their songs?  Simple.  It has been suggested a few times.  Now, I have to admit that when this song was requested, I wasn’t that excited.  I don’t feel like I have a connection at all to this song.  It is one of those Duran songs that I would have to go through album lists to come up with.  It is one, for me, that faded into the background.  It isn’t that I don’t like the song.  It just isn’t one that I love or hate.  No strong emotional reactions pop up when it comes on.  Perhaps, though, this is the best reason to analyze it.  Maybe, I will get more of a connection by doing so.

As always, I begin my analysis by posting a video of the song and the lyrics.  Now, this track did not have an official video but I was able to find this live gem from the Milan show in 1988:

Lyrics:
She lays on the wall watching the strangers drift away. Mid-day’s o’er thick with the sun of Arabia. She surrenders her voices; they gather on the wind – talking, chanting, breathing into her body. Yesterdays. Mmm mmm mmm mmm. Awaken beside the scent of burnt sugar on her skin. Painting eyes -thick- with the colour she brings in. Oh, it’s sure and strong as the lightning tumbles down. Don’t you frown. Everything will be in time for this evening.

(bridge)
If there’s secrets she has to be party to everyone of them. If there’s heaven she gets to the heart and you’ll wonder…

(chorus)
Why she stays when I run out of blue
Help me rise and stand – now I can run to you.
Why she stays when I run out of blue.
Give me red instead -now let me run.

(bridge)
If there’s secrets she has to be party to everyone of them. If there’s heaven she gets to the heart and you’ll know just…

(chorus)
Why she stays when I run out of blue
Help me rise and stand – now I can run to you.
Why she stays when I run out of blue.
Give me red instead -now let me run.

Hey! Hey!

(chorus)
Why she stays when I run out of blue
Help me rise and stand – now I can run to you.
Why she stays when I run out of blue.
Give me red instead -now let me run.

What kind of theories are out there about what this song means?  Well, interestingly enough, this song was the topic of 2 Ask Katy questions.  In those answers, Simon mentioned that the chorus came from a quote from the famous artist, Pablo Picasso.  The quote was a response to a question that asked Picasso what he did when he ran out of blue paint to which he responded, “Why, I use red instead!”  The connection to this quote of Picasso’s is obvious.  The other Ask Katy response by Simon mentioned that the song is about a beautiful girl he has known.  Would that make sense?  Well, the pronoun used is a she.

The internet theories about this one aren’t numerous but do include the following:

*A Horse

*Drugs

As always, let’s take them one at a time.  Palomino is a coat color in horses in which the horse has a gold coat and a white mane.  These types of horses are often featured in movies and in parades.  Their origin is most likely European/Asian with a rich history in Spain and is a Spanish word.  Do the lyrics fit this type of  horse?  The first verse could be talking about a horse spending her day outside with the wind.  Color is emphasized as well with the line “Painting eyes -thick – with the colour she brings in”.  The only line that throws me slightly is the line about Arabia.  The image then that pops into my mind is that of a desert and bright sunshine.  Were Palomino horses found in Arabia?  Maybe, they were in the Crusades??  A horse could definitely take in secrets in that she would be around to hear all the people talking and she could, as any animal like this could, get into someone’s heart and be loved by that person.  The chorus could also fit this with the image of letting someone run.  Does this mesh with Simon’s statement that it is about a beautiful girl.  Sure could.  That beautiful girl could be a horse.

What about the other commonly suggested theory that it was about drugs?  According to the theory, the burning of sugar is related to drug use.  To me, this is quite a stretch.  Yes, I realize that the use of some drugs require burning them in a spoon to liquify them.  Yet, it isn’t sugar that this is done with.  Could sugar stand for the drug?  I suppose but there doesn’t seem to be much else in the song to indicate drug use.  On the other hand, that sugar could be referring to the white mane of a palomino horse or even sugar cubes that the horse could have.

To summarize, I think in all likelihood the song is about a horse.  Could it be about a woman who is outside, is told secrets, is able to be loved, and is able to let someone run or be free?  Absolutely, it could.  We find this pattern throughout Duran’s history, haven’t we?  Take Leopard for example.  Is it about a leopard or a woman?  Either way, those theories make a lot more sense than the drug use one!  Now, what should I analyze next?!

-A  

10 thoughts on “Interpretations of Palomino”

  1. First of all, that performance you posted is off my favorite Duran concert and it's just simply perfect. The way he sings it… just… ahhh!

    Big Thing is also probably my favorite album, this being one of the songs that stand out most for me. When I listen to it I always imagine it being about a girl, but of course I cannot relate all the verses to that. It just brings this sort of mysterious felling around it, making me imagine a girl lying in between these thick sheets, with him beside her and just a perfect idyllic setting, but something's upsetting her and he's trying to console her.

    I didn't know that about the horses, but hey you learn something new every day 😀

  2. interesting interpretations! I always thought the burnt sugar was more about the color of the girls skin…but who knows (only Simon apparently)

    How about analyzing A Matter of Feeling next?

  3. First of all, Amanda…

    ” The quote was a response to a question that asked Picasso what he did when he ran out of red paint to which he responded, “Why, I use red instead!” The connection to this quote of Picasso's is obvious. ”

    I think the quote is that he uses red paint when he runs out of blue, isn't it?

    Secondly, I really think it's about a woman. The horse is a metaphor for a woman who runs wild and free, but if you read the lyrics, she is neither wild nor free…she stays no matter what the man does (the “I” in the lyrics, IMO) He questions why that is. Interestingly enough, anyone who knows or has worked with horses know that they are very loyal animals. They remember you even after long absences if you have a connection.

    Funny. That connection thing shows up in all places. LOL

  4. I always thought the “burnt sugar” was in reference to her skin color, too. Because “burnt sugar” is caramel! (which is also similar to the Palomino color!)

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