Earache My Eye
|"Earache My Eye"|
|Single by Cheech and Chong|
|from the album Cheech & Chong's Wedding Album|
|B-side||"Turn That Thing Down"|
|Cheech and Chong singles chronology|
"Earache My Eye" is a heavy metal song written by Tommy Chong and Gaye Delorme, and perfomed by the Canadian/American comedy duo Cheech and Chong, with Cheech Marin adopting the persona of a fictitious rock star named Alice Bowie. Released in 1974, the composition of the song is noted for its signature guitar riff, and jazz-influenced chord changes.
The composition is one of Cheech & Chong's most popular comedy routines, appearing on the duo's fourth comedy album, Cheech & Chong's Wedding Album (1974), as well as being featured in their first film, Up in Smoke (1978). "Earache My Eye" has also been covered by Soundgarden and Korn, the latter featuring Marin on vocals, and was prominently sampled by Eminem in the 2017 single "Untouchable".
"Earache My Eye" is a heavy metal song which Rolling Stone has described as a cross between Black Sabbath and King Crimson. Gaye Delorme conceived the original guitar riff and opening line, "mama talkin' to me". Tommy Chong fleshed out the rest of the composition and wrote the rest of the lyrics. The song is noted, aside from its signature guitar riff, for its jazz chord changes; Chong has described the composition as a mixture of jazz and rock; Chong stated "The chord changes were very intelligent [...] it wasn't just full-on heavy thrash metal. That's why it was so popular."
The character for the "Alice Bowie" character came from Alice Cooper and David Bowie; according to Tommy Chong, "We'd been on tour with Alice [Cooper] a few times, and we really admired David Bowie. He was such an androgynous kind of character, and then when Cheech would put on the tutu, he became Alice Bowie. By the way, I wore the tutu first. Cheech actually got jealous. He wanted to wear the tutu, so I let him."
In the skit, Chong plays a rebellious teen who wakes up and plays a rock record by Alice Bowie (Cheech Marin). As the song continues into an electric guitar-heavy bridge, the teen's dad (also Marin) barges into the room and yells at his son and turns off the record, followed by the two arguing and the father swatting the boy with his belt and leaving the room, after which, the teen resumes listening to the rock album.
Gaye Delorme played guitar on the recording, and drums were played by percussionist Airto Moreira. The Alice Bowie vocals were sung by Cheech Marin, due to Marin's talent as a singer. Tommy Chong engineered the recording, and performed the guitar solo.
The single "Earache My Eye" spent 13 weeks on the Billboard Top 10 singles chart. Rolling Stone called "Earache My Eye" "raucous [and] hilarious". In a mixed to negative review of Cheech & Chong's Wedding Album, Allmusic reviewer Eduardo Rivadavia called "Earache My Eye" an "excellent [...] essential" Cheech and Chong recording.
In popular culture
Up in Smoke (1978)
The song was used in Cheech and Chong's first film, Up in Smoke (1978), in which Pedro de Pacas adopts the persona of "Alice Bowie". The duo decided to use the song to close the film, after a proposed closing scene didn't work, according to Tommy Chong, who said, "Cheech and I sort of took over the ending of the movie, so we made it where we wrote the song in minutes and magically had costumes on and a full band for a performance at the Roxy. [...] That way we made it so that we could go on the road. It was another way of keeping Cheech and Chong going into the next adventure."
Covers and sampling
"Earache My Eye" has been covered or sampled by numerous artists, including Govt Mule, Rush, Rollins Band, 2 Live Crew and Widespread Panic. In 1990, Soundgarden covered "Earache My Eye" and Spinal Tap's "Big Bottom" in a live performance featured on their 1990 video Louder Than Live. In 1998, Cheech Marin performed vocals on a cover of the song recorded by Korn as a hidden track on their album Follow the Leader. In 2017, rapper Eminem sampled the song on his track "Untouchable", from his album Revival; the lyrics of "Untouchable" discuss racism and police brutality. Tommy Chong has praised the covers by Soundgarden and Korn, as well as Eminem's "Untouchable".
Personnel on the recording included:
- Cheech Marin - vocals (as Alice Bowie)
- Tommy Chong - guitar, engineering
- Gaye Delorme - guitar
- Airto Moreira - drums
- Grow, Kory. (December 20, 2017). Cheech and Chong's 'Earache My Eye': From Novelty Hit to Eminem Sample. Rolling Stone.
- Unterberger, Richie. Review of Where There's Smoke There's Cheech & Chong (Anthology). Allmusic.
- Cheech & Chong (1974). "Earache My Eye". Cheech & Chong's Wedding Album. Event occurs from 00:00 to 00:30 in the recording.
- Cheech & Chong (1974). "Earache My Eye". Cheech & Chong's Wedding Album. Event occurs from 03:00 to 05:20 in the recording.
- Rivadavia, Eduardo. Review of Cheech & Chong's Wedding Album. Allmusic.
- Thill, Scott (July 30, 2008). EARACHE, MY EYE! CHEECH AND CHONG REUNITE, TOUR. Wired.
- Patrin, Nate (March 18, 2009). The Popstream: Soundgarden, "Big Bottom/Earache My Eye". City Pages.
- Aswad, Jem (December 8, 2017). Tommy Chong Talks Eminem’s Cheech & Chong-Sampling ‘Untouchable’: ‘Racism Is Ignorance and He’s a Warrior’. Variety.
- Stubblebine, Allison (December 8, 2017). Read the Full Lyrics to Eminem's 'Untouchable'. Billboard.