Eyes Without A Face

Album: Rebel Yell (1983)
Charted: 18 4
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  • Lyrics
  • Les Yeux Sans Visage (Eyes Without a Face) is the title to a chillingly horrific yet classically poetic 1960 film from acclaimed French director Georges Franju. In it, a gifted plastic surgeon is involved in a near fatal auto accident which horribly disfigures the once beautiful face of his beloved daughter. Along with his assistant, he abducts young women so that he may surgically remove their facial features and graft their beauty onto that of his daughter's grotesque countenance.

    More than the typical Mad Scientist gore flick of the "horror" genre in movies, it deals with real humanistic themes rather than the loud crash and bang after a minute long string instrument is played in a high key. The arrogance, vanity, and what we ultimately come to realize, guilt of the father who now treats his daughter as a sort of porcelain doll with interchangeable parts. Though he supposedly loves her so, what he does in effect, is dehumanize her for the sake of his own personal redemption.

    The song "Eyes Without a Face" uses similar imagery for effect. However, he tackles the concept of the modern romance and uses the same metaphors the movie used to show the absence of humanity and how cold and callous the modern world has grown to be. All that we (in the song's case "we" have the role of the narrator) have endured getting here has made us like the doctor. While the daughter has become eyes without a face (she wears a mask a la Halloween's Michael Myers and the only visible part of her face are her eyes), the doctor has become a face without eyes. He has blinded himself to the hideousness that he has involved himself, his family, and his poor victims in.

    While the woman in the relationship in the Billy Idol song is "Eyes Without a Face," the narrator has become the face without the eyes. Wrapped in guilt for what once was a perfect love, he must face his own pettiness and the fact that he has forever altered his partner and their relationship. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Pablo - Miami, FL
  • The soft female vocals in the song are singing "les yeux sans visage," which is French for "eyes without a face." For another '80s song with female backing in French, check out "Games Without Frontiers."
  • The video was directed by David Mallet, who also did Idol's "White Wedding" clip. Mallet once again accented the video with three girls slapping their own butts in time to the music.

    Idol's memories of the video are painful ones. His contact lenses dried out during the shoot, and when he fell asleep on a flight to his next gig in Arizona, they fused to his eyes. He had to get his corneas scraped at a hospital and wear bandages on his eyes for three days.
  • The French vocals on this track were sung by Idol's girlfriend, the dancer Perri Lister, who was part of a performance group called Hot Gossip. Lister appeared the video for this song and three others by Idol: "White Wedding," "Rebel Yell" and "Hot In The City."
  • Judi Dozier and Steve Stevens did the keyboards and synth programming on this track. The big clapping sound was generated with a Oberheim OB-Xa synthesizer, and the strings came from a Prophet V.
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Comments: 35

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenWonderfully eerie synths.
  • Nieves from WisconsinPablo's suggestion (based on the song's lyrics) are very inaccurate in my eyes. Nothing in the song suggests the downfall of the relationship is Idol's fault.
  • Byron from UsaLoss, betrayal, trying to stay hip and riding it out to floating to hypnotic guitar - when I was young I listened to this and it was like being carried away while things were going on. I had a loss. I was trying to stay hip and ride it out. Then there's the sublime - eyes and no face and how I saw a crime where I had no voice - silence. The story of the song is freaky (booted) - can't see that in this song, just sayin from what I saw in it and I didn't even memorize the lyrics. We just floated to the song, perhaps stoned out but the meanings - so deep for a young person struggling.
  • Victor from Monterey, CaFrench - Les yeux sans visage) (English - The eyes without face)
    This song is meaningful to me. Eye's without a face mean's that your very beautiful, & kind. If I were to sing this to a girl I find attractive, It would mean I really like her. I think Billy Idol's Lyric's are very haunting in this song, If I were to sing this song to a woman, I would mean a lot to me. This would be my way of expressing my feelings and affection for her.
  • John from Pittsburgh, PaDo you guys know there's a horror movie also called the Eyes without a Face? thecelebritycafe.com/feature/2012/09/top-horror-films-1960s-0
  • Victor from Agana, Guam, Guam(French - Les yeux sans visage) (English - The eyes without face)
    This song is meaningful to me. Eye's without a face mean's that your very beautiful, & kind. If i were to sing this to a girl I find attractive, It would mean i really like her. I think Billy Idol's Lyric's are very haunting in this song, but I
  • Marie from Durham, United KingdomI think he is talking about religion and selling your soul to the devil, the lies been christianity. but thats just my interpritation.
  • Michaelbrenden from Dc, MdGood comments, all. To me, eyes are windows, you can look in, they take in your gaze, but they don't give back. You can't kiss them, touch them, normally, you can only look in, and sometimes life sparkles back. The face, however, it's all about touch, sensitivity, kiss, smile, frown. This song makes me think he's singing about a girl who takes but doesn't give.
  • Blackrican from New York, NyI actually don't completely agree with Pablo's interpretation. Watching the video gives you a slightly different perspective. Use Billy's facial expressions and the timing of various lyrical passages as a guide and see if this interpretation fits a little better. Here's an analysis of the sequence of events as I see them:

    I'm all out of hope
    One more bad dream could bring a fall (I think the lyric is "break" not "dream." He's referring to the times that he's been let down by his love. Something breaking is more closely related to a fall, though in this case I believe he is referring to heart break)
    When I'm far from home (The fact that she does this when he is away from home would suggest that she lives with him. This is not a fly-by-night relationship; they are supposed to be serious)
    Don't call me on the phone
    To tell me you're alone (he's not going to believe this sort of lie anymore)
    It's easy to deceive (He is easily deceived. He’s believed her all this time…reference is made to this line later as well)
    It's easy to tease (He feels that he’s being taunted, or being made fun of by her)
    But hard to get release (It's difficult for him to cope...all of his emotions are bottled up inside of him)

    Les yeux sans visage eyes without a face (Eyes are the window to the soul, he cannot find that soul though he continues to search. This thought goes through his head repeatedly until the search for her soul becomes an obsession. This obsessive quality and repetition is prevalent throughout the song)
    Les yeux sans visage eyes without a face
    Les yeux sans visage eyes without a face
    Got no human grace your eyes without a face. (There is no humanity when he looks into her eyes. She is virtually inhuman because she shows no remorse for the way she mistreats him. I believe that the eyes are all he can see when he thinks of her… he is fixated)

    I spend so much time
    Believing all the lies
    To keep the dream alive (He's obviously made many attempts to see through what he thought was a phase or something of that nature. He tried over and over again to make things work. Remember that line about being easily deceived? This would serve as an explanation as to why)
    Now it makes me sad (He's come to the realization that she doesn't hold the same feelings for him)
    It makes me mad at truth (He's angry that he allowed himself to taken for a fool)
    For loving what was you (He loved who he thought she was...or at least, loved the person he had hoped she'd become)

    Les yeux sans visage eyes without a face
    Les yeux sans visage eyes without a face
    Les yeux sans visage eyes without a face
    Got no human grace your eyes without a face.

    When you hear the music you make a dip
    Into someone else's pocket then make a slip.
    Steal a car and go to Las Vegas oh, the gigolo pool. (This is the truth of who she is. The deception)

    Hanging out by the state line, (This is an allusion to living life on the edge…being by the state line. Another interpretation could place her far from home, as the earlier line suggests. In his eyes she ought to be home)
    Turning holy water into wine (He once thought of her as a good person (almost angelic or holy). When we are in love we tend to place people on a pedestal and hold them in high esteem even though they may not exactly deserve it...They become perfect in our eyes. This line also makes obvious biblical references to holiness.)
    Drinkin' it down, oh (In the Catholic faith, the holy wine should be sipped...She "drinks it down" thereby mocking any sense of holiness or purity attached to the wine (i.e. the blood of Christ) This is also her in party mode, having a good ol time.
    I'm on a bus on a psychedelic trip (He is out to catch her in the act. His mind is in a whirlwind)
    Reading murder books tryin' to stay hip. (This particular line is the source of much of the confusion with this song; however, going by the movie Pablo mentions, Billy (the father) is out for murder. He would be reading these books to keep his mind on murder, perhaps to get ideas about how to go about killing his love, or perhaps, even, how to kill and get away with it. In the movie, the father turns into a psychotic killer, murdering a number of women in the wake of his insanity. )

    I'm thinkin' of you you're out there so (This line becomes obvious)
    Say your prayers.
    Say your prayers.
    Say your prayers. (Again, repetition signifies his obsession with getting to her. By the way, if you remember back to the beginning of the song, he mentions how it's hard to get release....I'll just leave it at that)

    Now I close my eyes
    And I wonder why
    I don't despise (Something has caused a change of heart. If you think about "blind rage," you may be able to account for this portion of the song, where there is no understanding of how he's arrived at this point. I would argue that this was omitted for the sake of mystery. We don’t know exactly what’s happened to cause the change of heart. It’s left for interpretation.)
    Now all I can do (This line is particularly interesting to me in that he says “all [he] can do.” There is a sense of permanence in this line. I would interpret this permanence to be a death of some sort. Death of love or death of soul, or perhaps the more morbid permanence of death…her actual death.)
    Is love what was once
    So alive and new (Again, I think that the person who wrote the lyrics missed the mark. If you are following my logic to this point, the line might read better if it said “so alive IN YOU…remember that soul that he had been searching for so desperately? A lifeless body might not have a soul. Not according to the bible, anyway. Another
    But it's gone from your eyes (now he realizes that it is somehow gone. Whether that be the love or the life is left to interpretation)
    I'd better realize (This fits both endings. In any case, the obsession is over. )

    Les yeux sans visage eyes without a face
    Les yeux sans visage eyes without a face
    Les yeux sans visage eyes without a face (This section of repetition would be remorseful or melancholy depending on which ending you chose)
    Got no human grace your eyes without a face.
    Such a human waste your eyes without a face (It is a shame to live without love. To live without love is a waste of the human experience. I believe this is where the song writer taunts the listener. Again, it is wasteful to live without love but he could also be talking about the killer's lack of remorse for having killed her.)

  • Cc from Ga, Gai saw the movie it was based off of it is my fav movie now even if it is in black and white i love this song and the movie
  • David from Whitehouse, NjThe chorus,"eyes without a face" is sung in French, "les yeux sans visage" as an hommage to the film.
  • Tj from Boston, MaI always thought that Billy said "I'll supply the face" in this song ... implying that the listener supply the bum. Also, the French part of this song makes the song even cooler. Kind of like when Paul Mcartney sings French in the Beatles song Michelle, or when Blondie sings French in the bridge of the song "Call Me" ... or when Edith Piaf sings all of her songs in French. Please Billy Idol, do an entire album of Edith Piaf cover songs, Then, remake the song LA Woman.
  • Dave from Liverpool, United KingdomQuote from Boy George when he reviewed this record on BBC radio in the 80s

    "Eyes Without a Face? Head Without a Brain, more like...."
  • Jeff from Austin, TxSteve Stevens' guitar solo is pretty wicked on this song.
  • Linda from Ocean Park, WaBilly won songwriter of the year with this in case you didn't know.Eyes Without A Face deserved the award. I'm a rock n' roll dinosaur and this is still my favorite song. Everything about it is right.
  • Rafael from Fontana, CaWell this is a very special song to me. The lyrics are amazing and well written. But there is one thing about this song that really touches my soul, and it the bass guitar. From start to finish, this song is a big huge bass orgasm. I remember when I was younger when I was younger, I allways wanted to play the guitar, but when the minute I heard this song, something told me to play the bass guitar. So in freshman year, one of my friends needed a bass player, and I found my chance to play. I never bass before that, but this song pushed me to try it. So I joined the band without ever even touching a bass, and things went on from there. Over time I grew better at it, and truly became a man in love with his bass. Once I learned how to play Eyes without a face, I grew to love bass even more than before. This song deserves more credit for the bass parts because it's so beautiful. When Billy plays it live he dosen't really focus on the bass. He over dose it with the guitar, but not with bass. That makes me think less of the performance, because I feel like it missing is groove. Well I would like to Billy Idol for writing a truly beautiful song and Billy Idol bass player for touching my soul with your bassline.
  • Alan from Singapore, SingaporeFrankie J sampled this song for his song If He Can't Be
  • Rusty from Raleigh, NcIs this a good song for me to sing to a girl?
  • Sara from Traverse City, MiThis is a great song, and the secert meaning behind it makes it out to be even better then it was before.
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlCool Song. Billy Idol delivers again
  • Tony from Houston, TxI heard this song a couple times before and I didnt give much thought about it,I just thought it had a great beat and catchy. I fell in love with this girl and we had the best time of our lives. Or so I remebered. We broke up over a big misunderstanding,I felt miserable for weeks. When the song came on the radio,for the first time I can actually say that it means alot to me. I talked to her after we brroke upa nd realized how different she was. How she wasent the same girl i fell in love with. The lyrics I can relate to the most is
    "I spend so much time
    Believing all the lies
    To keep the dream alive
    Now it makes me sad
    It makes me mad at truth
    For loving what was you"

    They just dont make songs like this anymore.
  • Leah from Brooklyn, NyMore about the film that inspired this song: Originally titled Les Yeux Sans Visage upon its original French release, the film was cut, dubbed, and renamed The Horror Chamber of Doctor Faustus for American distribution in 1962, but was restored years later for American re-release.
  • AnonymousOn Storytellers, he said it was about the staring nature of things. By he, I mean Billy Idol.
  • Lia from Bethany Beach, DeI've heard that this song is about his sister marrying a black man as well as the song White Wedding.
  • Rachel Cox from Jacksboro, TxIn addition to being very beautiful, this song is one I can personally relate to, I think it deals with the romantic illusions in relationships. When he's away from her, he seems to realize the woman he's involved with is not who she appeared to be at the beginning of their encounter, and subsequently he's dealing with his own disillusionment and anger when the truth is revealed, and he sees her for who she really is.

    He fought to keep this dream alive, and now it's gone.

    He says "Now I close my eyes, and I wonder why, I don't despise", perhaps it's because deep down he realizes he was the master and creator of the image he fell for, and it didn't have so much to do with her after all.
  • Didko from Varna, BulgariaJosh, your story moved me more than the song itself. Thanks for sharing.
  • Kathleen from San Diego, CaWhile others look at this song as about lost love, I on the other hand look at it as found love. This song was sung to me by my then boyfriend who thought the Lyrics were "How's about a Date?"
  • Josh from L.a, CaI met the love of my life at a young age.What we shared was special and I'll never forget it.Growing up I've made some bad decisions and she left me when I was sentenced to a year in juvi.One day I heard this song on the radio and the words just got to me and in my head it pretty much summed up what I was going through because she wasn't with me anymore.I really don't know what it meant to Billy but what it means to me is that he's finally realizing that he lost his love and that she's still there but isn't the same person anymore and the only thing he has left are the memories of their love...."but its gone from your eyes, I better realize...". It s a very special song and its my favorite, I listen to it at least once a day just cuz its that damn good.
  • Eric from Cincinnati, OhI have always loved this song, and the haunting lyrics, although I never really got the bit in the middle that seems to be about a psycho killer. Can anyone (Pablo or another) explain it?
  • Amster from London, Englandhey Cat, I heard this track just yesterday on 'Nip Tuck', what a great track.
  • Cat from Bournemouth, EnglandThis song was used in an episode of 'Nip Tuck' during a surgery.
  • Christina from Boston, MaHas anyone read The Stand by Stephen King? I never read the lyrics before but it seems like it might have some relation to that.
  • Shell from Riverdale, GaY'know, there's never a hit of acid around when you REALLY need one. Like now, to wrap my brain around Pablo's analysis.

    Just kidding. Well done, Pablo.
  • Ari from Elizabeth, NjSomeone once told me this song was about the pictures of classic Hollywood actresses... But now I believe Pablo's interpretation is a lot better. =)
  • Kurt from Downers Grove, IlWow that's pretty deep.
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