© Madeline Bocaro, 2021. No part of this site may be reproduced or re-blogged in whole or in part in any manner without permission of the copyright owner.
OPEN YOUR EYES and read all the fun facts
about these wonderful songs!!
THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND
‘Eyesight to the Blind’ is a blues song recorded by Sonny Boy Williamson in 1951. In biblical style, a smokin’ hot girl can restore eyesight to the blind, just as Jesus did. The song was adapted (and credited to Williamson) by The Who for their 1972 rock opera Tommy (about a deaf, dumb and blind boy), in which the song is performed in a church scene by Eric Clapton who is dressed in a white robe. A young Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds were once in Williamson’s backup band. Williamson also recorded the sight-themed songs ‘Born Blind,’ Unseeing Eye.’ ‘Don’t Lose Your Eye’ and ‘Unseen Eye’.
Listen – Sonny Boy Williamson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opQhUZ4rBEo
Watch – The Who: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IO5bzRzZW1E
‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ by Etta James became a classic blues standard. This stunning tune in ¾ time appears on James’ 1968 album Tell Mama. It was co-written by Etta James with Ellington Jordan, who gave the song to Etta when she visited him in prison. However, she passed on the credit to her partner Billy Foster. It was recorded at the great Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama.
Ooh, I would rather, I would rather go blind boy
Than to see you, walk away from me
‘Sweet Blindness’ was written by Laura Nyro in 1968. It’s on her second album, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. Her album also features her song ‘Eli’s Comin’’ which was a hit for Three Dog Night.
‘Sweet Blindness’ was popularized (also in 1968) by The Fifth Dimension. Two Laura Nyro songs were included on their album Stoned Soul Picnic, which is the title of the second song by Nyro on the same album.
Listen – Laura Nyro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZFD7gH1mJg
Listen – The Fifth Dimension: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUHXqP6k3dQ
I must include something by the band Blind Faith featuring the super players Clapton, Winwood, Grech and Baker. The band’s name originated with the title of a photograph which graced its controversial album cover, created by photographer Bob Seidemann in August, 1969. The image was of a topless pubescent girl, holding a silver space ship. Some perceived the ship as a phallic symbol. The image, titled “Blind Faith” by Seidemann, became the inspiration for the name of the band, which had been unnamed when the artwork was commissioned. According to Seidemann, “It was Eric who elected to not print the name of the band on the cover. The name was instead printed on the wrapper. When the wrapper came off, so did the type.” This omission of the band name had been done previously for The Rolling Stones’ 1964 debut album, The Beatles’ albums Rubber Soul (1965) and Revolver (1966) and Traffic’s self-titled 1968 debut album. (And let’s not forget Sparks’ albums Kimono My House and Propaganda, both in 1974.)
Following the shadows of the skies
Or are they only figments of my eyes?
And I’m feeling close to where the race is run
Waiting in our boats to set sail, sea of joy…
Listen: Sea of Joy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZQXvUeHmjQ
John Lennon used part of the melody from the nursery rhyme ‘Three Blind Mice’ for the final song, ‘My Mummy’s Dead’ on his first post-Beatles solo album, John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band in 1970. The album’s opening song ‘Mother’ was also about John’s feelings of abandonment resulting from his mom (and dad’s) absence in his life. His mother was hit by a car and killed when John was seventeen. John bared his soul so much on this album. In Japan, it was titled John’s Soul. Lennon kept the lyrics simple, as he had been introduced to Japanese haiku poetry by his wife, Yoko Ono.
My mummy’s dead
I can’t get it through my head
Though it’s been so many years…
‘Blinded by the Light’ was made famous by Britain’s Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in 1977. They took it to No. 1. In the USA. The soaring Minimoog propelled the song, along with a killer guitar solo. However, the original was written by Bruce Springsteen. It appeared on his debut album Greetings from Asbury Park in 1973.
Momma always told me not to look at the sun
But momma, that’s where the fun is
Listen – Bruce Springsteen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPy82OO6vRg
Listen – Manfred Mann 1977: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rpq35wyDi7I
THE EYES HAVE IT!
‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ is a beautifully melodic classic written in 1933 by Jerome Kern, with lyrics by Otto Harbach for the musical Roberta. It’s been covered by many artists, including Tommy Dorsey, Peggy Lee, Glen Miller, Charlie Parker, Nat King Cole and Dinah Washington. The pop hit was made by The Platters, thanks to the beautiful tenor tone of singer Tony Williams. It appears on their 1958 album Remember When?
Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry did a wonderful version on his second post-Roxy Music album, Another Time, Another Place which was also his second album of cover songs. The album was released in 1974.
Listen: The Platters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeC9Z1YQjXs
Listen: Bryan Ferry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO7mcRoYY-4
‘Temptation Eyes’ was a 1971 single by The Grass Roots. It’s on a compilation album called More Golden Grass. Other great hits from this band were ‘Midnight Confessions’. ‘Let’s Live for Today’, ‘Sooner Or Later’ and ‘I’d Wait a Million Years’.
‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ is a ballad by The Flamingos, released in 1959. This ultimate ‘doo-wop’ song actually has many ‘doo-wops’ in it!
‘Can’t take my Eyes off You’ was a big hit for The Four Seasons in 1967.
‘Can’t Keep My Eyes On You’ is by the great Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers. It’s on their wonderful 1977 EP, L.A.M.F.
‘Brown Eyed Girl’ was a 1967 single released by Van Morrison, who changed the title from ‘Brown Skinned Girl’ as it was originally conceived as a Calypso song, which you can hear in the Jamaican style melody and beat.
‘Pale Blue Eyes’ is by The Velvet Underground. It appears on their third, self-titled album. This is a gorgeous tune sung by Lou Reed in his most beautiful and delicate voice. The lyrics were inspired by one of Lou’s first lovers, Shelly Albin who married someone else.
‘Behind Blue Eyes’ 1971 was a single from The Who, written by Pete Townshend. It appeared on their fifth album, Who’s Next.
No one knows what it’s like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes
The Sweet released a kick ass album in 1976 called Give Us a Wink! The cardboard cut-out sleeve makes the eye blink! ‘The Lies in Your Eyes’ is the killer opening track. It’s a glorious glam stomper on an album which was otherwise a heavy rocker! This was the band’s fourth album, the first to feature all tracks written and produced by the band, rather than by Chinn/Chapman.
‘Faraway Eyes’ is on The Rolling Stones 1978 album Some Girls. It was also the B-side of ‘Miss You’ and also released on 12-inch pink vinyl. It is sung by Mick Jagger in a really funny hillbilly accent. He also makes some hilarious faces in this video!
Watch the promo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyK1bZZ7E-s
The Dickies wrote ‘Where Did His Eye Go?’ is about the singer Sammy Davis Jr. and the loss of his eye. This is on their album Dawn of the Dickies released in 1979, which also includes a cover of ‘Nights in White Satin’ and my favorite Dickies songs, ‘Fan Mail’ and ‘Manny, Moe and Jack’!
‘Bette Davis Eyes’ was a hit for Kim Carnes in 1981. A country-style version of the song was originally recorded by its composer Jackie DeShannon in 1974. You might remember Jackie for her 1969 hit ‘Put a Little Love in Your Heart’. The legendary actress sent roses to the song’s composer and singers in appreciation of the song when it won a Grammy.
Listen – Kim Carnes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CFuO554JE4
Listen – Jackie DeShannon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAQsOJbs-yo
(Jackie DeShannon ‘Put a Little Love In Your Heart’) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTxxEdBIL6Y
‘Eyes Without a Face’ by Billy Idol is on his 1984 album Rebel Yell. The creepy video should be called ‘Head without a Body’.
‘Eyeball in My Martini’ is by The Cramps, from their album Look Mom, No Head! released in late 1991. The album was reissued in 2001 with bonus tracks. Not only is there a fly in Lux’s soup, there are eyeballs in his martini and in his linguini!! He begins to see eyeballs everywhere – even between his girlfriend’s legs! His diagnosis at the institution (in the Department of Eyeballs) is that he isn’t crazy. He just has eyeballs in the center of his brain! This is the best Cramps song since Lux used eyeballs for dials on his ‘TV Set’!
Eyeballs, eyeballs, eyeballs
Eyeballs, eyeballs, eyeballs
Floating through the air
I love the song ‘Fish Eyes’ by Shonen Knife on their 1998 album Happy Hour! What would YOU do if you woke up one morning with fish eyes? Would you appreciate it this much?
One day I woke up in my bed
I said something looks so wrong
When I looked around my room
I said something looks so strange.
My god! I’ve got fish eyes!
Fish eyes! Fish eyes!
In the meantime I went to school
And all my friends were shocked.
They asked me questions
They were so eager to know my new views
My god! I’ve got fish eyes!…
Oh la la
What do I see?…
Now I can see things so clearly
Wider, better than before
I can’t get used to my new world yet
And I start screaming!
My god! I’ve got fish eyes!…
The Libertines self-titled second album, released in 2004 has a nasty little reggae tune called ‘Cyclops’.
3RDEYEGIRL was the name of the all-girl backing band behind Prince from 2014 – 2016, right up until his passing. They play on his 36th album Plectrumelectrum – a funky rock piece released in 2014. The title instrumental track is really heavy and cool! During this time, Prince referred to himself as “Eye” rather than “I”.
LOOKS LOOKS LOOKS!
‘The Look of Love’ was a 1967 hit by Dusty Springfield. It was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The song is a bossa-nova. It was first recorded by Stan Getz in 1966 as an instrumental.
Listen Stan Getz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdkgNx_9q78
Listen: Dusty Springfield: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tf1d65OHYXo
‘Just One Look’ is a popular 1960s song covered by The Hollies, Linda Rondstadt and the great Klaus Nomi! It appears on Nomi’s second and final album Simple Man from 1982.
Also see my story about Klaus Nomi…
Altering one’s looks is always a popular topic. ‘Facelift’ by Soft Machine is a strange instrumental track (mostly a live recording with lots of tape manipulation) from their album Third released in 1970. If you lay your face upon the speakers while this is playing, you might just get a facelift from the vibrations!
‘Look at Me’ is on John Lennon’s first solo album, John Lennon Plastic Ono Band – released in 1970. This is a poignant song about self-examination and identity. He began writing the song in 1968 when he was in India with The Beatles studying Transcendental Meditation.
MY STORY about John’s first solo album: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
‘Looking For A Kiss’ is on The New York Dolls debut album released in 1973. The album was voted both Best New Album and Worst New Album in Creem magazine’s reader’s poll that year.
Read my story about the New York Dolls:
Mott The Hoople’s ‘Through the Looking Glass’ is a sweeping epic on their final album The Hoople released in 1974, which features model Kari-Ann Mueller on the cover. (She appears on the cover of Roxy Music’s debut LP). The song is a Dorian Gray style narrative about a pop-star’s reflection upon old age, in which the reflection (unlike the painting) shows the singer’s true age. He smashes the mirror at the end of the song.
Oh, you know you painted so much blue, and I’m much younger than that too
Oh, mirror, what did I do to you?
You’re my voyeur; see every line; chase them to destinations
On through time
And you’re my diary, yeah, the bitter truth
Unexpurgated, a mis-spent youth
Joe Jackson’s ‘Look Sharp’ is from his debut album of the same name, released in 1979. He is wearing a fashionable pair of winklepickers on the album cover!
Here’s my 1979 interview with Joe Jackson about the Look Sharp album…
The great Peter Tosh gave us a cover of The Temptations song ‘Don’t Look Back’ – a duet with Mick Jagger. Tosh’s 1978 album Bush Doctor was on Rolling Stones Records. My favorite version of this is the one he did on Saturday Night Live with Mick Jagger! That’s not on YouTube anymore, so here’s another version…
Watch – with Mick Jagger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o4Fgh0KW_4
‘Don’t Look Down’ is on Iggy Pop’s wonderful yet underrated album New Values, released in 1979.
The Swedish pop duo Roxette had a big hit with ‘The Look’ from their album Look Sharp in 1989. This new wave/glam/pop song is similar in style to Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ (1987) and Queen’s anthemic ‘We Will Rock You’(1977)
‘Looking For You (I Was)’ is a wonderfully poetic song by Patti Smith released in 1988 on her album Dream of Life. It’s about her husband, the great Fred Sonic Smith.
In the medieval night
‘Twas love’s design
And the sky was open
Like a Valentine
All the lacy lights
Where wishes fall
And like Shakespeare’s child
I wished on them all
Come on darlin’
All that hearts desire
Was written before us
In the medieval fire
It was love’s design
In the glittering stars
Like Shakespeare’s child
To be where you are
On ‘Looking Over from My Hotel Window’ on her 1973 album Approximately Infinite Universe, Yoko Ono reflects on her life on a cold winter day at age 39 with her own simple piano accompaniment. Her clear, echoing voice on this chilling song recollects the past. She now feels suicidal, haunted by the loss of her missing daughter. She is floating along, just like the snowflakes outside.
MY STORY: Yoko Rocks My Universe
The authentic swing of ‘Looks, Looks, Looks’ appears on Sparks 1975 album Indiscreet. On the swinging tune, Visconti hired a full authentic 1930s orchestra of elderly jazz musicians to accompany Russell’s vocal – The Ted Heath Orchestra -who greatly enjoyed the opportunity to reunite, also appeared with Sparks to perform the song on Supersonic amidst omnipotent bubbles). The song was also performed on Top of the Pops.
Watch – Supersonic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej1GL9_vb3o
MY STORY about the Sparks album Indiscreet
Sparks also have songs about looks called ‘Funny Face’ (Whomp That Sucker) about an incredibly handsome guy who can’t stand all the attention. He has plastic surgery to alter his looks. Sparks also released ‘I Wish I Looked a Little Better’ on their album Sparks In Outer Space).
Watch – Funny Face: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WM74ngy9EIw
Watch – I Wish I Looked a Little Better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oMFdj71ekQ
See MY REVIEW of the new 2021 Edgar Wright documentary The Sparks Brothers:
SEEING IS BELIEVING
‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ is an old standard, written in 1938. The lyrics by Irving Kahal are about old lovers are nostalgic and sweet. The melody is by Sammy Fain. It originated in a Broadway musical, and was later the title of a film produced by Dore Schary. Some famous versions are by Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, all in the 1940s. I love this gorgeous version by Iggy Pop and Francois Hardy from the various artists album Jazz A Saint-Germain.
‘Come See About Me’ was a single released in 1964 by The Supremes. The song was written by Motown’s team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. It was first recorded by Nella Dodds for Wand records, also in 1964. The Supremes’ arrangement was not that much different, but their star power took it to the top of the charts.
Listen – Nella Dodd: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwhsp_QWX2I
Watch – The Supremes on The Ed Sullivan Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LJkGNytc2I
‘On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)’ was written by Lerner & Lane in 1965, and sung by Barbra Streisand in the 1970 movie musical of the same title.
‘You Won’t See Me’ is on the sixth Beatles album Rubber Soul, released in 1965.
Also on the same album is ‘ I’m Looking Through You’.
Listen – ‘You Won’t See Me’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsjTO0yZQjk
Listen – ‘I’m Looking Through You: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH6i9JAdJrQ
‘The More I See You’ is an older song from a film called Diamond Horseshoe in 1945. It was made famous in 1966 by Chris Montez. It was recorded by many other artists in various genres.
‘I Can See for Miles and Miles’ written by Pete Townshend was the only single from the 1967 album, The Who Sell Out. This riotous track is said to have inspired Paul McCartney to write the manic ‘Helter Skelter’.
‘See Me, Feel Me / Listening To You’ by The Who is the standout track from their rock opera Tommy about a young boy who is rendered deaf, dumb and blind after witnessing his mother’s infidelities. It was especially triumphant when the band performed it at Woodstock in 1969.
The reggae influenced ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ was originally recorded by Johnny Nash for the album of the same name. The single was a huge success in 1972. There’s also a great cover version by reggae great Jimmy Cliff in 1992.
Listen – JohnnyNash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_p0XE28t94
Listen – Jimmy Cliff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrHxhQPOO2c
‘How You Gonna See Me Now?’ is a beautiful ballad to his wife from Alice Cooper, interpreted by Elton John co-writer Bernie Taupin’s lyrics and Dick Wagner’s score. This is on Alice’s 1978 solo album From The Inside. After recovering from alcohol addiction, Alice was now in treatment for cocaine abuse. I loved it when Alice included a giant cyclops in his live show. Three original Alice Cooper Group members join in on this song; Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce and Neal Smith.
‘Nobody Sees Me Like You Do’ was written by Yoko Ono in 1973. John had told Yoko that he liked the chords on this one during the Double Fantasy sessions. Released 18 months after John’s death, on Yoko’s album Season of Glass, this became his wife’s song of eternal love, apology and longing. The most poignant lines indicate the foretelling loneliness that Yoko felt before the tragedy that took John from her, and from us all.
Even with your warmth and closeness
This feeling of loneliness hangs over like a curse / thirst
Listen: Nobody Sees Me Like You Do – album version
Listen: John & Yoko Double Fantasy Session – ‘Nobody Sees Me Like You Do’
So sweet to hear them laughing in this!
On the remix CD Yes, I’m A Witch (February 2007) there’s a beautiful reverberating remix of Yoko’s ‘Nobody Sees Me Like You Do’ featuring The Apples In Stereo. The track begins with Yoko asking for a ginger tea. The arrangement is gorgeous, including chimes and a really cool and lovely synth solo by Rob Schneider.
MY STORY: Shattered: Season of Glass
BEHIND THE SHADES
The Cramps had a great song called ‘Sunglasses After Dark’ in 1980 on their album Gravest Hits. It was partially comprised of snippets of other songs by Link Wray and Dwight Pullen.
I would make any excuse to include a song by X-Ray Spex, so here is one…I love the imagery in ‘The Day the World Turned Day-Glo’ from their debut album Germ Free Adolescents, released in 1978.
A fabulous new documentary was made on singer Poly Styrene, made by her daughter Celeste – released in March 2021. “Poly Styrene was the first woman of color in the UK to front a successful rock band. She introduced the world to a new sound of rebellion, using her unconventional voice to sing about identity, consumerism, postmodernism, and everything she saw unfolding in late 1970s Britain, with a rare prescience. As the frontwoman of X-Ray Spex, the Anglo-Somali punk musician was also a key inspiration for the riot grrrl and Afropunk movements.,,”
I clambered over mounds and mounds of polystyrene foam
Then fell into a swimming pool filled with fairy snow
And watched the world turn day-glo, you know, you know
The world turned day-glo, you know, uh oh
I wrenched the nylon curtains back as far as they would go
Then peered through perspex window panes at the acrylic road
And watched the world turn day-glo, you know, you know..
I drove my polypropylene car on wheels of sponge
Then pulled into a wimpy bar to have a rubber bun
And watched the world turn day-glo, you know, you know
The world turned day-glo, you know, uh oh…
The X-rays were penetrating through the latex breeze
Synthetic fibre see-thru leaves fell from the rayon trees
The day the world turned day-glo…
Poly Styrene documentary film 2021 trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stXSFuUOdeU
I will end with Ian Hunter’s wonderful poem, ‘Shades Off’ which he recites at the start of his first (self-titled) post-Mott The Hoople solo album, recorded with Mick Ronson and released in 1975.
…See it never was easy to live with a head
So I kept to the back room and I live there instead
What comes from the front-room is only for “friends”
I have a bay window but that’s where it ends
And it’s here I see pictures and my madness is clear
And there’s no longer logic so therefore no fear
And I’m almost dead with uncontrollable light
Sometimes when I’ve written a song – it’s alright…
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