Many people associate the sound of certain music with certain colours, and it’s often said that in a way music is similar to painting, only with sound.

I can’t really think of any greater reason for this playlist: I just realised that lots of famous songs have colours in the title, and then realised that lots of good songs, well-known or not, do as well. Here’s just some of my favourites – it’s impossible to list them all.


Silver Rocket

Like a rocket crashing, this track from the seminal Daydream Nation disintegrates from a pounding New York punk track to a wall of white noise rock. Then flies back again.

White Light/White Heat

There’s no wasting time here, even for a band known for indulging in liberal amounts of it. The Velvet’s pounding lo-fi rock’n’roll mess (said in the most complimentary way possible) makes for a straightforward and brilliant album opener. On top is Lou Reed’s wonderfully animated vocal performance (“oooOOOOhhhh have mercy…”). 

Red Right Hand

Basically everything about this song is perfect: The brooding lyrics and vocals, the unstoppable sinister groove of the minimalist percussion and, above all, that gut-shaking bell, possibly one of the most perfect moments of any recording. “On a gathering storm comes a tall handsome man, in a dusty black coat with a red right hand…”

Little Red Rooster

Over a year before they painted it black, the Stones passed a musical milestone – the first and to this day only blues song to reach #1 in the UK. Originally by Willie Dixon, and played here as a gentle shuffle starring Brian Jones’ slide guitar, the song remains one of the Stones’ most enduring forays into the pure blues that inspired them.


A grooving mix full of vintage crackle and jazz samples from Polish electronic musician Emapea.

Red Tide

Twanging guitars, 60’s organ, drawling vocals and a nocturnal circus-like feel. A standout track from the “beach goth” band’s modern alt-surf epic, Are You In Or Out?

Pink Moon

Pink Moon, the final album released by English singer-songwriter Nick Drake before his tragic death at age 26, is a haunting but beautiful listen.

Black Ego

Brooklyn jazz-rap trio Digable Planets only stayed together for two albums, but if Black Ego was the only thing they ever made, it would still have been worth it.

Red Morning Light

Crunchy southern-flavoured garage rock. Remember when Kings Of Leon sounded like THIS?

Old Brown Shoe

A criminally underrated Beatles song, if there can be such a thing. Sung by George Harrison, who also supplies a wiry guitar solo, this energetic shuffle was only ever released as a B-side.

Black Mountain Side

I feel like Jimmy Page’s stunning acoustic playing on this instrumental from Led Zeppelin’s debut album needs more attention.

Red House

Speaking of guitar, I almost went for the equally colourful Purple Haze but then I listened back to Jimi’s electric noodling on this slow blues and was convinced otherwise.

Black Hell

Freewheelin’ gothic country from the gothic country kings, as bleak as the name suggests. Singer Warren Thomas’s voice is perfectly suited to such an album title as Songs Of Love & Despair.

Red Headed Girl

Tijuana Panthers are solid players of the teen garage surf-pop abundant on Californian labels such as Burger and Lollipop Records. Red Headed Girl is simple, playful and satisfying.

Golden Years

Bowie himself described the making of 1976 album Station To Station as “miserable to live through,” peppered with substance abuse, overwork and associations with fascism. So how he managed to deliver one of the sunniest and most Golden-sounding songs of all time is beyond me.

Orange Light

Summery grooves and throwback harmonies from San Franciscan band Cool Ghouls. Their album A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye is by far one of the more successful attempts at a blatant 60’s revival sound.

Mood Indigo

This jazz standard was written by Duke Ellington, and here Nina Simone adds her own cover to the long list, her voice doing it more than justice.

Blue Collar

Not quite sure what to say about this one, other than that it’s really, really good. A soul-funk hard-times story with a beautiful guitar sound. Well, a beautiful everything sound.

Man In The Long Black Coat

He also gave us Tangled Up In Blue and a full palette of other colours to choose from, but this dark brooding tune from comeback 80’s album Oh Mercy is too good to pass up. It sounds like a Gothic folk story and finds Dylan on top of his lyrical game, in a decade viewed as his low point.

Black Crow

Blue is Mitchell’s best known album, but 1976’s Hejira is just as much a masterpiece. This is one cut from that album featuring legendary jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius.

Famous Blue Raincoat

“It’s four in the morning, the end of December/I’m writing you know just to see if it’s better/New York is cold but I like where I’m living/there’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.” Nothing sounds more like the feeling of 4 a.m. than this barely-voiced masterpiece.

Black Milk

Blue Lines was the colourful title of the trip-hop group’s genre-birthing debut. This cut from their third album, Mezzanine, is darker in both sound and name, and features guest vocals from Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins.

Bright Blue Day Haze

Sparkling vintage guitar pop, drenched in sunny reverb and 60’s organ breaks.

Blue In Green

A two-tone title, and a great bit of smooth jazz to calm down to, from what many consider to be the greatest jazz album of all time.

All Cats Are Grey

Icy echoing drums, bleak chilly synths and a title to match the colourless album cover. The Cure in the middle of their true Goth phase, to end with.