A week and a half ago, I was listening to The Morning Show with John Richards on KEXP Seattle. That morning, Richards played “Colors” by Black Pumas, a psychedelic soul band from Austin, Texas, USA. It is a song I don’t think I had ever heard before.
The duo of singer/songwriter Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada has not been together long. Burton, a former church and musical theatre singer, made his way busking around the USA, settling in Texas in 2017. Quesada, a producer in Austin, was looking for someone new to collaborate with when a friend introduced them. The two musicians formed a duo in 2018 called Black Pumas and released their debut, self-titled album, the next year. In 2020, they received a GRAMMY nomination as Best New Artist.
Hearing “Colors” on KEXP, the song’s slow, nuanced opening immediately hooked me with its understated electric guitar riff, and Burton’s voice joining and ushering in the other instruments and singers of their backing band, who surround the duo with musical brilliance.
In a July 2019 piece on Black Pumas, a reviewer from the online magazine Pitchfork.com wrote, “Possessing a voice that can slide into the slipstream with ease, Burton lends an elegant elasticity to Quesada’s tightly layered productions. Occasionally the producer/guitarist performs this trick in reverse…”
The two musicians have obviously found a fit with each other. And for me, perhaps simplistically speaking, the image of a Black and a white man in a twosome could represent, in a more global sense, hope and potential for peace, harmony and equality in a time when those are absent in so many places. I interpret the song lyrics to be saying much the same, and here’s an excerpt:
“I woke up to the morning sky, first
Baby blue, just like we rehearsed
When I get up off this ground, I shake leaves back down
To the brown, brown, brown, brown
‘Til I’m clean
Then I walk where I’d be shaded by the trees
By a meadow of green
For about a mile
I’m headed to town, town, town
With all my favorite colors, yes, sir
All my favorite colors, right on
My sisters and my brothers
See ‘em like no other
All my favorite colors”
(from “Colors,” by Eric Burton)
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the official live session video from the Black Pumas’ YouTube channel:
Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.
UPDATE, January 20, 2020:
Of course I would have had no idea Black Pumas would be performing, and sharing this song, at the concert celebrating the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris in the United States tonight.
Serendipity… she is magical. I’m kind of stunned by it, after having only heard this song on January 7 and having it revisit in these ways.