Behind Blue Eyes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is an old revision of this page, as edited by (talk) at 16:31, 27 November 2015 (→‎Limp Bizkit cover). The present address (URL) is a permanent link to this revision, which may differ significantly from the current revision.

Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Behind Blue Eyes"
The Who Behind Blue Eyes.jpg
Song by The Who
from the album Who's Next
B-side"My Wife" (US)
"Going Mobile" (Europe)
Released6 November 1971 (US)
Recorded8 July 1971[1] at Olympic Studios in London, England
Length3:41 (album version)
3:28 (original version)
LabelDecca, MCA, Track, Polydor
Songwriter(s)Pete Townshend
Producer(s)The Who, Glyn Johns

"Behind Blue Eyes" is a song by the English rock band The Who. It was released in November 1971 as the second single from their fifth album Who's Next and was originally written by Pete Townshend for his Lifehouse project.[2][3] The song is one of The Who's most well known recordings and has been covered by many artists.


"Behind Blue Eyes" originated after a Who concert in Denver on June 9th, 1970.[4] Following the performance, Townshend became tempted by a female groupie, but he instead went back to his room alone, possibly as a result of the teachings of his spiritual leader, Meher Baba.[5] Upon reaching his room, he began writing a prayer, the first words being "When my fist clenches, crack it open..." These words later appeared as lyrics in the "climactic rocking section" of "Behind Blue Eyes."[5]

When "Behind Blue Eyes" was to be released as part of the aborted Lifehouse project, the song was sung from the point of view of the main villain, Jumbo. The lyrics are a first-person lament from Jumbo, who is always angry and full of angst because of all the pressure and temptation that surrounds him, and the song was intended to be his "theme song" had the project been successful. Pete Townshend said of the song's lyrics:

"Behind Blue Eyes" really is off the wall because that was a song sung by the villain of the piece [Jumbo], the fact that he felt in the original story that he was forced into a position of being a villain whereas he felt he was a good guy.[5]

The version of "Behind Blue Eyes" on the original Who's Next album was the second version the band recorded; the first was recorded at the Record Plant in New York on 18 March 1971 and features Al Kooper on Hammond organ.[6] The first version was released as a bonus track on the 1995 CD reissue of Who's Next.

"Behind Blue Eyes" was initially considered for a UK single release, but Townshend claimed that the song was "too much out of character" for the British singles market.[5] However, the song did eventually see a single release in America, as well as France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Backed with "My Wife" in the US and "Going Mobile" in Europe, the song reached #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #24 on Cashbox.[4]

Pete Townshend has also recorded two solo versions of the song. The original demo of the song, was featured on the Scoop album. The demo along with a newer recording of the song featuring an orchestral backing was featured in The Lifehouse Chronicles.


The song starts off with a solo voice singing over an arpeggiated acoustic guitar in the key of E minor, which remains throughout the entire song. A bass guitar and ethereal harmonies are added in later. Eventually, the song breaks out into a full-scale rock anthem when a second theme is introduced near the end - which ultimately wraps up with a brief reprise of the quieter first theme. Songs written in alternating sections were something of a trademark of Townshend's writing of the period, going back at least to Tommy, where it was used in "Christmas" and "Go to the Mirror!" The guitar riff at the end of the rock anthem section is also used after the bridge during the song "Won't Get Fooled Again", perhaps serving as a link between the two songs when both were intended to be parts of a single rock opera. (There is similar thematic recapitulation in Tommy and Quadrophenia.)[citation needed]

Chart performance

Chart (1971) Peak
France (SNEP)[7] 147
US Billboard Hot 100[8] 34
US Cashbox[4] 24


In the media


Limp Bizkit cover

"Behind Blue Eyes"
Limp - BBE cover of the single for the cover.jpg
Song by Limp Bizkit
from the album Results May Vary
Released28 November 2003
GenreAlternative rock
Length4:28 (without hidden track), 6:05 (with hidden track)
LabelFlip, Interscope
Songwriter(s)Pete Townshend
Producer(s)Fred Durst

"Behind Blue Eyes" was covered by American nu metal group Limp Bizkit. It was released in November 2003 as a single from their album Results May Vary. Limp Bizkit's arrangement is notable for featuring a Speak & Spell during the bridge.[10] The song is followed by a hidden track titled "All That Easy", after a few seconds of silence, so the total length is 6:05. However, the hidden track is not featured in the single release.

The music video features Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry. It contains scenes from the motion picture, Gothika, in which Berry stars. It depicts Berry and Durst in a relationship similar to the storyline of the film. Upon release, the video received positive reviews from critics,[who?] with many complimenting its interpolation of the film's theme.

Chart performance

Chart (2003–2004) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[11] 4
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[12] 3
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[13] 13
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[14] 16
Denmark (Tracklisten)[15] 2
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[16] 1
France (SNEP)[17] 17
Germany (Official German Charts)[18] 2
Ireland (IRMA)[19] 26
Italy (FIMI)[20] 28
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[21] 4
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[22] 5
Norway (VG-lista)[23] 2
Poland (ZPAV)[24] 3
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[25] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[26] 1
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[27] 5
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[28] 18
US Billboard Hot 100[29] 71
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[30] 18
US Mainstream Rock Tracks (Billboard) 11
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[31] 25


End of year chart (2004) Position
German Singles Chart[32] 15


  1. ^ 20th Century Masters-The Best of The Who: The Millennium Collection Liner Notes
  2. ^ "Behind Blue Eyes : The Who". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
  3. ^ "The Streets lead Ivor nominations". BBC News. 11 April 2005. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Cady, Brian. "'Who's Next' liner notes". The Hypertext Who.
  5. ^ a b c d Grantley, Steve; Parker, Alan. The Who by Numbers: The Story of the Who Through Their Music. Helter Skelter.
  6. ^ Who's Next - 1995 Remastered Edition CD Booklet Page 23
  7. ^ " – The Who – Behind Blue Eyes" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  8. ^ "The Who Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ " – Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  12. ^ " – Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  13. ^ " – Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  14. ^ " – Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  15. ^ " – Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes". Tracklisten. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  16. ^ "Polish Singles Chart |".
  17. ^ " – Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  18. ^ " – Limp Bizkit Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  19. ^ "Chart Track: Week 50, 2003". Irish Singles Chart.
  20. ^ " – Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes". Top Digital Download.
  21. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Limp Bizkit" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  22. ^ " – Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  23. ^ " – Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes". VG-lista. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  24. ^ "Polish Singles Chart |".
  25. ^ "Polish Singles Chart |".
  26. ^ " – Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  27. ^ " – Limp Bizkit – Behind Blue Eyes". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  28. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  29. ^ "Limp Bizkit Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  30. ^ "Limp Bizkit Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  31. ^ "Limp Bizkit Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  32. ^