Doctor, My Eyes

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"Doctor, My Eyes"
German cover
Single by Jackson Browne
from the album Jackson Browne
B-side "Looking Into You"
Released March 1972
Format 7"
Recorded 1971
Genre Soft rock
Length 3:19, 2:57 (Single)
Label Asylum Records
Songwriter(s) Jackson Browne
Producer(s) Jackson Browne
Richard Sanford Orshoff
Jackson Browne singles chronology
"Doctor, My Eyes"
"Rock Me On the Water"

"Doctor, My Eyes"
"Rock Me On the Water"

"Doctor, My Eyes" is a 1972 song written and performed by Jackson Browne and included on his debut album Jackson Browne. Featuring a combination of an upbeat piano riff coupled with lyrics about feeling world-weary, the song was a surprise hit, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in spring 1972, after debuting on the chart at #80. Browne would not see the chart's Top 10 again until 1982's soundtrack hit "Somebody's Baby", although "Running on Empty" just missed the Top 10, reaching #11.[1][2][3] Billboard ranked "Doctor My Eyes" as the No. 92 song for 1972. In Canada, the song peaked at number four.[4]

"Doctor, My Eyes" became a concert mainstay for Browne, and was included on both his later compilation albums. A live version can be found on the 1996 Australia CD release Best of... Live, a double-set with Looking East, and the 1997 Japan 2-CD release of Best of... Live, coupled with The Next Voice You Hear: The Best of Jackson Browne.[5]

Jesse Ed Davis played the electric guitar while David Crosby and Graham Nash sang backing vocals, and Russ Kunkel played drums.[6]


William Ruhlmann on elaborated on the development of the song: "Browne first recorded a demo of 'Doctor My Eyes' for the Criterion Music publishing company in early 1971, and despite its striking imagery and carefully crafted writing, it was a bleak song... By the time he came to record the song for his first album in the summer of 1971, however, Browne had revised the lyric, tossing out the most pessimistic lines. Now, 'Doctor My Eyes' was the statement of a man who had stoically endured life's hardships, but having done so, now worried that he had been rendered unable to feel anything. It still wasn't an optimistic song, but the unhappy ending had been rendered ambiguous." Ruhlmann addresses the final recorded version's "paradoxical sense" between the music and the lyrics: "Working with other musicians, Browne drastically altered the sound of the song on record. A lively 4/4 beat, played on drums and congas, and supported by piano, set up a catchy underlying riff before the lyrics even began. Browne's singing was supported by Graham Nash and David Crosby's harmonies, giving the lyrics an emotional edge. On the whole, the arrangement and performance worked against the still desperate message contained in the words. "[2] There was originally a third verse to the song, but it was not retained when Browne recorded the song for his debut album. The lost verse, however, can be found on circulating bootlegs of the song's original demo.

In part 1 of the 2013 documentary History of the Eagles, JD Souther and Glenn Frey discuss at some length the process of Browne's work methods while Browne was working on the song over a period of some months. The three lived in adjacent downmarket apartments; Frey would hear Browne, through the walls, at work on his piano every morning.


Jeff Walker, in his review of Browne's debut album for Phonograph Record magazine in 1972, wrote that "Doctor My Eyes" is one of a number of tracks on the album that "deal with a spiritual search; no preaching, no conclusions, just searching."[7]

Ruhlmann on Allmusic called it "a rollicking pop/rock song about being almost terminally burnt out."[2]

Other versions[edit]

  • The Jackson 5 recorded "Doctor My Eyes" on their 1972 Lookin' Through the Windows album, and the song was released as a single in Europe, where it became a Top 10 hit for them.
  • Mary Travers recorded the song and included it on her 1973 album All My Choices.[2]
  • Paula Cole also did a cover of the song for the soundtrack of the 2004 film Eulogy.
  • Ben Folds recorded the song for the soundtrack of the 2002 film The Banger Sisters.
  • Wilson Phillips covered the song on their 2004 album California.
  • The New Amsterdams did a cover of the song and it is included on the expanded version of their 2006 album Story Like a Scar.
  • Drummer Russ Kunkel and the group Chateau Beach covered the song from their 2008 album Rivage.[8]
  • Cory Morrow for the 2010 album Brand New Me.
  • Gretchen Wilson for the 2013 album Under the Covers.
  • Garth Brooks for the 2013 The Melting Pot album in the Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences compilation.
  • Although only a few seconds of the performance were seen in a montage, Team Adam (Levine) members David "Dave" Crosby and Dylan Gerard performed an arrangement of the song in a Battle round in the October 17, 2017, episode of reality singing competition show The Voice. Levine named Gerard the winner of the Battle, advancing him to the Knockout rounds, while Crosby was eliminated when coaches Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson, and Blake Shelton all opted not to steal him.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1972) Peak
Canada RPM Top Singles [9] 4
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 8
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 18


External links[edit]