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Behind Blue Eyes by The Who
Album: Who's NextReleased: 1971Charted:
Pete Townshend originally wrote this about a character in his "Lifehouse" project, which was going to be a film similar to The Who's Tommy
. Townshend never finished "Lifehouse," but the songs ended up on the album Who's Next
Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey both have blue eyes, but the song is not autobiographical. Townshend has said that he wrote it to show "How lonely it is to be powerful."
Townshend was going to use this as the main song in the Lifehouse film for the villain, Jumbo.
Pete Townshend has explained that he never behaved like a typical rock star when he was on tour, especially when it came to groupies, which he tried to avoid. He says it was a run-in with a groupie that was the impetus for this song. Townshend, who got married in 1968, was tempted by a groupie after The Who's June 9, 1970 concert in Denver. He says that he went back to his room alone and wrote a prayer beginning, "If my fist clenches, crack it open..." The prayer was more or less asking for help in resisting this temptation. The other words could be describing Townshend's self-pity and how hard it is to resist.
The original demo version is a lot quieter and stripped-down. Townshend released this version on his 1983 album Scoop.
Roger Daltrey did a new version of this song with the Irish group The Chieftains, which was released on the group's 1992 album An Irish Evening. This rendition, which was recorded live at the Grand Opera House in Belfast, features traditional Irish instruments, including fiddle and bodhrán.
The lyrics are based on Townshend's own feeling of angst - that no one knows what it's like to be him, with high expectations and pressure to be someone he's not. Knowing what a miserable sod he can be, he's telling us not to let himself enjoy it because he doesn't want to enjoy making us (the fans) happy. It'll mean we will ask for more!
This is one of the most popular live songs from The Who, played at the majority of their concerts. Pete Townshend has said at various stages of his career that while he believes it's a great song, he doesn't get any satisfaction performing it, as he feels it is out of context of his Lifehouse project.
To the horror of many Who fans who turned up their noses at nu-metal, Limp Bizkit covered this song on their 2003 on their album Results May Vary, taking it to #18 UK and #71 US (the only cover version to chart). This version was used in the Halle Berry movie Gothika. Berry appeared in the video, which was directed by Bizkit frontman Fred Durst. Conveniently enough, Durst included a scene where he kisses Berry in the video.