I'd Rather Go Blind

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"I'd Rather Go Blind"
Single by Etta James
from the album Tell Mama
A-side Tell Mama
B-side I'd Rather Go Blind
Released 1968 (1968)
Recorded 1967, FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals, AL
Genre R&B
Length 2:32
Label Cadet 5578
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Rick Hall

"I'd Rather Go Blind" is a blues song written by Ellington Jordan[1] and co-credited to Billy Foster. It was first recorded by Etta James in 1967, released in 1968, and has subsequently become regarded as a blues and soul classic.

Original version by Etta James[edit]

Etta James wrote in her autobiography Rage To Survive that she heard the song outlined by her friend Ellington "Fugi" Jordan when she visited him in prison.[2] She then wrote the rest of the song with Jordan, but for tax reasons gave her songwriting credit to her partner at the time, Billy Foster, singer with doo-wop group The Medallions.[3]

Etta James recorded the song at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It was included on the album Tell Mama and as the B-side of the single of the same name which made number 10 on the Billboard R&B charts and number 23 on the pop charts. The song is also on the 1978 Jerry Wexler-produced album Deep in the Night but it is titled "Blind Girl" (track 10).[4] Some critics have regarded "I'd Rather Go Blind" as of such emotional and poetic quality that it makes that release one of the great double-sided singles of the period.[5] Critic Dave Marsh put the song in his book The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (number 429).[6]

Other versions[edit]

It has since been recorded by a wide variety of artists, including Clarence Carter, blind from birth, on his 1969 album The Dynamic Clarence Carter. Other recordings include those by Little Milton, Chicken Shack, Koko Taylor, Man Man, Rod Stewart, B.B. King, Paul Weller, Ruby Turner, Marcia Ball, Sydney Youngblood and Beyoncé Knowles for the Cadillac Records Soundtrack.

The song reached number 14 on the UK pop charts in 1969 in a version by British blues band Chicken Shack, featuring Christine Perfect, later to become Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac.

Rod Stewart covered the song on his 1972 album Never a Dull Moment. Etta James refers to Stewart's version favorably in her autobiography, Rage to Survive.

A version of the song was the follow-up single to UK singer Sydney Youngblood's third single release, "Ain't No Sunshine", which was popular in the UK. Although "Ain't No Sunshine" peaked in the UK Top 20, "I'd Rather Go Blind" missed the Top 40, peaking at number 44 on the UK pop charts. However, it appeared on Now That's What I Call Music! 17. It appeared on the CD before the actual single was released.

Versions have been performed by Paolo Nutini,[7] Australian musician Toby,[8] and American folk singer Holly Miranda.

British soul singer Liam Bailey released a home-recorded version of the song with his EP 2am Rough Tracks in 2010. The EP was released on Amy Winehouse's Lioness Records.

In 2011, Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart covered the song on their album Don't Explain.

At the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors concert honoring Buddy Guy, Beth Hart received a standing ovation for a rendition of the song accompanied by Jeff Beck on guitar. Buddy Guy, fellow inductees Led Zeppelin, and other celebrities, including the Obamas, were in the audience.

In 2012, Mick Hucknall covered the song on his album American Soul.

The Allman Brothers perform this song live occasionally with Susan Tedeschi. Tedeschi and Allman Brother's guitarists Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes performed their version of I'd Rather Go Blind at The White House's Red White and Blues event.

References[edit]

External links[edit]