The Who: Behind Blue Eyes Meaning
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Song Released: 1971
Behind Blue Eyes Lyrics
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes
No one knows what it's like
To be hated
To be fated
To telling only lies
But my dreams
They aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be
1TOP RATED#1 top rated interpretation:anonymous Feb 11th 2010 report
Everyone interprets songs different. That's the beauty of songs that they can reach people in different ways. For me, I try to put myself in the guy's shoes. My opinion he has these ideas of what he wants his life to be. He has dreams and goals but no one notices them. No one sees the real him. He may have done something in the past that he feels guilty for and thats gave him a reputation and that's all people see and he wants people to see him for who he is. Sometimes we may feel like people can see right through us and see behind, well in his case behind blue eyes. But everyone interprets things differently
2TOP RATED#2 top rated interpretation:anonymous Apr 7th 2010 report
The song "Behind Blue Eyes" was originally part of Pete Townshend's "lifehouse project", which was shelved. Of course, a great deal of that aborted project would end up on the album "Who's Next", including this song. It is written from the point of view of the "villain" character (from the story that compromises the "lifehouse project"), showing even bad people have emotions like the rest of us. The "behind blue eyes" refers to the thoughts and feelings of the villain, in his head, behind his eyes.
Like any song lyrics, how you interpret it is up to you, or it may have a special meaning for you, and that is all good. But the songwriter's intended meaning of the lyrics when he wrote the song, is what is listed above. It is not about nazis, being gay, or drugs.
I read along time ago, the inspiration for the villain character, and for the lyrics, was some record executive (who I guess Pete did not think much of), but once he read the lyrics back to himself, he was surprised to find the lyrics reminded him of himself as much as the record executive.
3TOP RATED#3 top rated interpretation:
This song may be about a narcissistic person. They have no conscience, (...my dreams they aren't as empty, as my conscience seems to be...) they cannot sustain a relationship (...I have hours, only lonely. My love is vengeance that's never free...). Narcissists are adept at 'projecting' i.e. they put the blame on others (...to feel these feelings, and I blame you...). They are accomplished liars (...to be fated to telling only lies...). These people have an inflated sense of grandeur and expectancy but some of them occasionally sense, deep down inside, that they are hated!
Vivelavie66 Mar 15th report
This for me is a man who in his latter years
A life long toil and selfless sacrifices for the greater good of others finds nobility and humility is painful lonely and subject to the lies cruelty of those he promised his life to the ones he loved the most, indeed he loved alone, his eyes of blue blind but now see .none of his fear or woes ....
anonymous Aug 1st 2021 report
It's fits my childhood when the song came out I was abused by an organizations adult leader.
It was hell but I made it through in the 70s.
I'm successful but have struggled all my life with those demons. Now I finally am learning to play guitar sing and perform this song as When I was learning the song it opened pandorus box for me. I'm crying and now dealing with my stored place
in my head and growing from the experience. I can now face the world and tell my story through singing this song.
anonymous Nov 14th 2020 report
My interpretation is that people with blue eyes have a lot of pain too. People with blue eyes don’t always have it easy and we make mistakes, live in crazy lives, have regrets,
are sad, are happy, have feelings for others,
and can be very good people. Just because we have blue eyes doesn’t mean we are privileged, mean, or prejudice. We can be very caring people, have problems, and have concerns for others and ourselves. Peace!
anonymous May 28th 2020 report
It's a narcissist expressing his feeling - "but my dreams they aren't as empty as my conscience seems to be"
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Jan 8th 2020 report
There are no many songs lyrics out there written from a perspective of a narcissistic personality. This is one anyway, with a character that carries a heavy burden of inner split, rage and projections in both directions. Some types of narcissism bring substantial suffering also to the narcissist himself. An interesting aspect of the song is the part on "the dreams not being as empty as his conscious". Here, the dreams are related to illusions produced by the projecting factor in narcissist's psyche. This factor produces usually wishes to be accepted by the world in a way an infant is overwhelmed by the safety and warmth of mother's bosom, resulting in disappointment and a feeling of alienation.
anonymous Dec 12th 2019 report
In recent times a plethora of clear and concise knowledge about narcissism, particularly covert narcissism and sociopathic personality types has come available on the information highway known as the internet. It’s out there if anyone cares to look. It is absolutely chilling how Pete Townsend had, without the benefit of the body of knowledge now available, taken the listener into the mind of the narcissist. His lyrics define quite succinctly, the essential elements of covert narcissism. Ask any survivor of abuse from this type of person!
anonymous Nov 15th 2019 report
I totally agree with the interpretation that this is about person (perhaps Pete) dealing with alcoholism or other drug abuse. For those who are not familiar with what its like to live with an alcoholic, these lyrics seem to totally fit the mindset of an alcoholic (as I understand that mindset, being a non-alcoholic spouse of an alcoholic.) Being an alcoholic is not just about "drinking too much". It's how alcohol completely changes the person's behavior and in particular how they respond/react to those around them, even those who they love, often in very hurtful ways. The alcoholic can say and do truly mean and hurtful things when drinking, for which they are ashamed, but powerless to stop. Often the evil things they say to others are merely projecting their own low self worth onto others. They suffer tremendously when they understand how they have hurt others. I believe this song is a cry for help, and an attempt by the alcoholic to explain how it feels to personally deal with the terrible disease of alcoholism.
anonymous Aug 15th 2019 report
My ex husband told me once when this song came on the radio " I feel this song is about me..." I wish I asked him what he meant but years later after he cheated on me and walked out, I put 2 and 2 together and suspect he was sexually abused as a child/young teen, possibly by his father and/or a priest. He was definitely bipolar and a sociopath.
anonymous Jun 9th 2019 report
I have blue eyes and I know that I'm a good person but I've been plagued my whole life by people that don't appreciate me, don't understand me, and continually want to tell me that I'm wrong. When I tell the truth, I'm not believed. In my constant struggle to prove I'm not wrong, I also am always trying to improve others. My intent is miss-understood. I'm sad because I never feel appreciated. I'm considered bad because people don't like being told they can improve. My pain and woe is meaningless to those I've cared about my whole life and my concern for them is considered as having an empty conscience. This song is the story of my life.
anonymous Jan 8th 2019 report
Behind Blue Eyes lyrics, very deep and very clear to see.
Have a happy new year!
- Same person who made a comment on this song today
anonymous Jan 8th 2019 report
Behind Blue Eyes lyrics, very deep and very clear to see. See meaning at wikipedia.
For the latest comment, sorry to hear you felt a villain. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. People like some people and some people don't like some people. That's life, we cannot please everyone and not everybody can like us.
Like you, I've been also judged and not everyone likes me. I've felt a villain many times and I can't blame them, because I'm not good myself. I'm trying to be good, but I still go back to my old ways sometimes.
Never destroy yourself because of other's thoughts about you. Be always honest, because people will understand you eventually. I have friends that I understand now and why they said those things to me.
Have a happy new your! Peace to you
- Browsed this site mostly in 2013-2018, Browsed this site 1/1/19 - 1/8/19
anonymous Jan 7th 2019 report
Behind Blue Eyes is written about someone who is looked at as the villain. I'm in that position, I am looked at as the villain. It's basically about a person who was judged his/her whole life. Thus the lyrics, "No one knows what it's like,". This song reminds me of me. I have always been looked at as the villain. So much that I wanted to commit suicide. I thought that if no one likes me and want me dead, I should die. This song reminded me of what I've dealt with. Behind Blue Eyes is saying 'I am not the villain'.
ReflectionPoint Nov 29th 2018 report
While I tend to agree with the top few interpretations of the song, some of the others referring to blue eyes in the title as a "master race" reference and reverse-racism etc..
A: Pete has blue eyes so that reference is likely just first-person perspective.
B: The sound of the word blue works better in the context of the song than brown, green, hazel, etc.. it makes for a better lyric. (Sing it in your head with a different color.. you can do it but it doesn't quite sound right, does it?)
C: Blue is a description of the underlying emotion he is expressing. This means regardless of your actual eye color, the song works perfectly. "Behind Sad Eyes" is the metaphorical meaning of the title.
Common sense, here.
“Behind Blue Eyes”, pure and simple, is as anonymous below identifies with, the expression of the shame and anger experienced by a young person who was sexually abused by a older homosexual, and that probably a family member.
A few years ago when Pete was arrested for looking at child porn, his excuse was that he “thought” he had been sexually abused by his uncle when he was a young boy. Every line in this song attests to that memory.
“When I swallow anything evil
Put your finger down my throat.”?
“No one bites back so hard on their anger...”?
Pete was sexually abused by a older homosexual uncle, and any time he complained he was told to hush and ignore, lest he embarrass a family member.
Isn’t it ironic that the generators of such sadness have chosen to be identified as “gay”!?
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