"If I Had Eyes" is about the sad breakup of a long-term relationship.
Johnson revealed in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph November 30, 2007 that he had help from his 3-year-old son Moe for this song. According to Johnson, Moe is a helpful source of ideas for his songs, and he contributed to the chorus of "If I Had Eyes." Johnson told the interviewer with a smile: "I'll have to give him a songwriting credit. But the little conversations we're having are ending up as the basis for a lot of songs, because he's always asking me, 'Why?' He's at the 'Why?' stage."
Johnson said on his website jackjohnsonmusic.com that Sleep Through the Static "has a nice cinematic ride through the whole thing." The keen environmentalist recorded part of the album in his Solar-Powered Plastic Plant studio directly to tape, forgoing the modern-day comforts of computer edits. The eco-friendly studio is carbon neutral and runs entirely on power generated from the sun. It was the first time he'd recorded outside his native Hawaii.
Johnson also revealed on his record label's website that many of the songs on the album are about babies. "Some of the songs on this album are about making babies. Some of the songs are about raising them. Some of the songs are about the world that these children will grow up in; a world of war and love, and hate, and time and space. Some of the songs are about saying goodbye to people I love and will miss."
Johnson elaborated to the Herald Sun on how Moe inspired this song: "He was drinking a lot of soya milk at the time. I told him if he kept drinking too much, he would grow a tail with an eyeball at the end. He looked at me trying to make sure I was kidding. When he figured that out, he attached his elbow to his butt and pointed his finger around the room. He had made this tail with an eyeball. He pointed at me and said, 'Dad, you look good.' I thought that was a sweet thing to say."
The inspired Johnson immediately began writing a song: "I made a song that said, 'If I had an eyeball on the end of my tail, I'd tell you that you look good as I walked away'. I meant it literally, but once I thought about metaphors (Johnson's friends were divorcing), it was a beautiful way to put it. I switched it around, made it less silly, but kept my son's ideas. I need to give him a songwriting credit."