What does Behind Blue Eyes mean?

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The Who: Behind Blue Eyes Meaning


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Song Released: 1971

Behind Blue Eyes Lyrics

No one knows what it's like
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

I have...


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    Apr 7th, 2010 4:56pm 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.


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    Jul 19th, 2009 7:11pm report

    I've heard that it is about a bad guy type person who is forced to be bad by society. His dreams aren't as empty as his conscience seems to be. He looks ahead into what could be or what he wants, but to the public's eye he is just a bad person


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    Jul 16th, 2005 7:49pm report

    The lyrics are based on Townshend's own feeling of angst - that no one knows what it's like to be him, with high expectations and pressure to be someone he's not. Knowing what a miserable sod he can be, he's telling us not to let himself enjoy it because he doesn't want to enjoy making us (the fans) happy.
    Townshend has said that he wrote this to show "How lonely it is to be powerful."


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    Jun 23rd, 6:16am report

    Seams likeits about a sociopath/ phsycopat to me


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    Mar 31st, 3:24pm report

    This is a badass song behind blue eyes doesnt have to be interpited by the color of your eyes i think its more about the feelings behind any color eyes the deep feelings inside you as you go through life n the experenices you live through but also in this song the person is so full of. himself
    but is torn because he realizes he's all alone but thinks he is the only one thats feeling this way because in his eyes no onelse matters only him he's very angry about shit he's been through in his life that made him who he truly is but that pain n hurt, like when he says,(my love is vengance thats never free),meaning you wont hurt me,i will hurt you before you hurt me n if you do try to get close oh well i will hurt you cause i refuse to ever let anyone hurt me ever again,but to never get hurt like that again im willing to be alone,but a slave to my pain,all my past demons that scratch claw n creep around inside my mind,but i want to be free but i never will so anyone that tries to get close to me will pay cause i dont trust them i cant i wont,but if you get too close you will get hurt not me


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    Jun 4th, 2016 6:30pm report

    It's about being the "white devil" in the eyes of others. This song is about countering the ignorant viewpoint that says being white is a bad thing. This version of racism was at that time and even today a mostly unspoken phenomenon.


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    May 17th, 2016 5:52pm report

    Hi, I am getting divorced. As my soon to ex drove off this afternoon after work, this song was playing loud in his car by limp biscuit. He is a full on narsistic person. This all I have too say....


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    Apr 9th, 2015 4:42pm report

    Out of the awesome ''Who's Next'' album in ''getting in tune, to the straight and narrow'' way of life in this song ''Behind Blue Eyes'' written by Pete Townshend about a individual who got caught in feeling like a bad man by the temtations and influences of the culture's evilness of Narcissim that he had to swallow down his throat that left his conscience numb in order to survive in not wanting to become evil himself by it with the feeling that he also became a sad man by playing the ''numb and dumb'' game, so he can hold on to his healthy ego part of himself to still dream for his dream by the vengeance of Love in overcoming the evil of the Narc that always wants to influence him the wrong way by becoming evil in his pathology of Narcissism. So, if there is nobody there to comfort you from the phrase ''If I swallow anything evil'', the natural thing to do is digest it in your guts and shit it out, but never in anybody's mouth, even when their sleeping, so not to become one of the narc's, 'cause like the saying goes they are so full of themselfs in thinking they are holy shit and it does not stink to shit all over anybody.


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    Oct 18th, 2013 10:23am report

    Blue Eyes is in the title, folks! This means it is crucial. The "master race" has blue eyes, metaphorically speaking. It's about the struggle of former masters (priveleged) to adapt to a new world (of more equality)where their power has eroded, leading to the inner conflict of resentment and a desire to be moral, or at least fit in. If it is about anyone or any group in particular, that's IRRELEVANT. This is art, not gossip. Art addresses the HUMAN CONDITION, not your specific fantasies, although it can for YOU and YOU ALONE because art resonates and shines. THAT'S what makes it art folks!.


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    Nov 24th, 2012 11:19am report

    I have always had a strong connection to this song personally. I found myself identifying with the lyrics, but I never completely understood why. All I knew is that I was filled with angst and anger. I'm at an age now that I have reflected on various experiences I've had and find that I see them in an increasingly different light. I guess they say that age brings perspective. Some of you know what I mean and others will. Sorry this is taking so long to get to the point, but I've come to realized that the meaning for me is related to being sexually abused around the age of 12 to 14. This experience made me feel like a "bad man" never being able to reveal myself out of fear and always having to bite back my anger and tell lies (not reveal the truth out of fear and shame). This song, whatever the true meaning was when written, really made me feel understood even before I understood myself. I really had no intention of writing any of this, all I wanted to do was look up the lyrics and see what it might mean. Strange how the mind works.


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    Jul 8th, 2012 7:41pm report

    I would say Pete is talking about his life and his relationship with his parents growing up as well as reaching into his sexual feelings. It feels to me like he needs somebody to reach out to and understand his feelings much like myself and has a anger inside. Mostly I would say it had feelings brought on by his childhood and teen years that are everlasting and I have the same feelings. It's a very emotional song.


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    Nov 30th, 2011 11:50pm report

    Sounds an awlful lot like this is describing a Sociopath. In the words of "ghmd" above just replace the label Narcissist: 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...). Sociopaths 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!


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    Nov 25th, 2011 11:30pm report

    I think this song is about being a White man living in a post-slavery, post-fascist era, where he has to live with the burden of a racist, selfish image from others because of the mistakes and evils his fore-father's committed.


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    Oct 22nd, 2011 10:31pm report

    Pete townshed started writing the song about trying to resist the temptation of the groupies.


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    Sep 19th, 2011 9:10am report

    I always thought this song was about the feelings of a person that had fought in Vietnam. Considering the time this song came out in 1971 and how some of our soldiers were disrespected and called baby killers because our Gov. drafted them and they had no other choice but to fight.


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    Apr 23rd, 2011 4:26pm report

    I think it's about a villain who's telling his perspective of things. A tragic villain who was once a good person though turned evil through something very tragic. No one really thinks about the villain and why he turned bad and that's what I think this song is about.

    In my head I see a film of this villanius character who wanted to do great things. To save the world but he has to concend to use evil means and with that he turns into a scapegoat for all the bad things in the world, being hated. Then a hero appears and destroys him without the hero realizing why the villain did all these evil things and what he tried to achieve in the first place.

    Here's my analysis:

    To be the bad man.
    To be the sad man.

    I think here he already states that he's sad about turning into this. Showing that he's a tragic person.

    Behind blue eyes.

    I have no clue about blue eyes. It could be interpretated into so many things. He could have blue eyes and telling you what he has in his mind.

    He could make a referance to the Aryan Race who was made up by the Nazi propoganda.

    He could also make a referance to this certain villain has "blue" (Hope or hopefully) eyes to what to come hoping for something as blue often is a referance to hope.

    Which means that he's hopeful person or he still has hope for the world.

    To be hated.
    To be fated.

    I think here he's stating that the turning point of him being good has come and that he can't evade it as it's fate (loss of someone important is often the turning point for a tragic villain).

    To tell only lies.

    And here I think he's stating that he don't particular likes it and that he knows it's wrong and he knows he's a villain.

    But my dreams aren't as empty.
    As my conscience seems to be.

    Here I think it means that he will do whatever it takes to make his dreams (ambition) come true even if it has to go through evil means. A good reference would be: "For the greater good, you may sacrifice one life over a million" or "As long as the end is good." kinda way of thinking.

    I have hours, only lonely.
    My love is vengeance.
    That's never free.

    I think he's telling he's trapped and lonesome. The only thing he has is vengenance and it's restrained by law and order (illegal).

    And no one knows what it's like.
    To feel these feelings.
    Like I do.
    I blame you.

    I take it as he's blaming the one he has lost or the thing that turned him into this monster for making him this way. Which is a typical villain "excuse" for being bad.

    Or it could also be here he stands in front of his own made hero. A hero that has come to destroy him and that this hero has made everything put in a "good" vs "evil" perspective. A good saying would be from the Romans 3.8 "Let us make evil, so good may come out of it." A typical example would be if you hurt someone, then another person comfort the one you hurt although this persons intentions aren't that good then the one who hurt the person will always be seen as the bad one while the comforting one would always be seen as the good one. (Like giving a psychological unstable person a bomb and telling him it will cure them, that person will see it as a good thing even though it will most likely kill him)

    And no one bites back as hard.
    On their anger.
    None of my pain and woe.
    Can show you through.

    Here I think he's debating with the hero.
    But the hero don't understand because it's irrational to "bite back" as hard as he does (world destruction or something like that I think) through his anger.

    Then he's telling him why it's logic that he's doing this but to no effort. He can't make the hero see why he's doing this.

    The bridge:
    I think here he's fighting the hero but discovers that he's been doing wrong and that this hero might make things right. Tragically he either lets himself be defeated or he is defeated while discovering that he can't make his dreams come true.

    No one knows what it's like.
    To be mistreated.
    To be defeated.

    I think he's thinking back to when he was good. How everything turned dark for his future.

    It could also be here he's telling the hero how sad he is about everything, about all that happened to him.

    Behind blue eyes.

    I think it goes best with hopeful eyes. That he saw hope die in front of him.

    And no one knows how to say.
    They are sorry and don't worry.
    I'm not telling lies.

    I think he's telling to the hero that no one was there to help him and that there were no one left for him, making him feel helpless. That he would help anyone in that state he was in (I'm not telling lies).

    Then it's chorus again and the end with him repeating himself that he knows he's wrong, sad and that he's a villain.

    (Here in my head I see him saying something like. "A villain has no good ending" and then get himself killed by the hands of the hero).


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    Mar 17th, 2011 3:55am report

    I have to say I am quite surprised at what I see here, but again, what do I know, I am old, but it was always thought to be about recovering from addiction,
    (If I swallow anything evil
    Put your finger down my throat) Don’t let me take pills
    (When my fist clenches, crack it open
    Before I use it and lose my cool) If I am going to shoot dope, your clenching your fist to expose the vein, so he says unclench it before he uses it and looses his cool,
    (If I shiver, please give me a blanket
    Keep me warm, let me wear your coat), come on, help me thru the withdrawals. classic withdrawals symptoms

    All of the other parts of the lyrics are classic hard core addict feelings of self hatred and self destruction. CLASSIC

    Maybe the self hatred part is shared by other personality problems, I dont know, All the members of the who have had there demons, look at Keith Moon and I know Townshend has had his addiction problems. I know they have there official meaning of the song, but do you think he would publicly admit such raw screwed up feelings as his own


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    Mar 3rd, 2011 3:11pm report

    Its a song about being a child lover, quite simply. A man who is attracted to children but will not give in to his temptations because like you, he knows it is wrong. This song speaks to me because I'm the same.

    No one knows what it's like
    (there aren't many of us)
    To be the bad man
    (you all say we are, even if we're not)
    To be the sad man
    (to be told loving someone is wrong hurts, to hide hurts, to be lonely hurts)
    Behind blue eyes
    (nobody can tell because he doesn't "look like a paedophile"

    No one knows what it's like
    To be hated
    (scary, we're the most hated minority on earth)
    To be fated
    To telling only lies
    (Lies about who you love, who you are)

    But my dreams
    They aren't as empty
    As my conscience seems to be
    (we can hide in our dreams, and to us it isn't wrong to love a child)

    I have hours, only lonely
    My love is vengeance
    That's never free
    (by loving a child, we show that we're not bad, our vengeance, but we can never tell anyone)

    No one knows what it's like
    To feel these feelings
    Like I do
    And I blame you
    (if you understood us, we wouldn't hurt so bad)

    No one bites back as hard
    On their anger
    (it HURTS)
    None of my pain and woe
    Can show through
    (the thought of being discovered is SCARY)

    When my fist clenches, crack it open
    Before I use it and lose my cool
    (don't let them get to me, can't be found out)
    When I smile, tell me some bad news
    Before I laugh and act like a fool
    (retain control)

    If I swallow anything evil
    Put your finger down my throat
    (the control over emotions that is needed not to become a "child molestor")
    If I shiver, please give me a blanket
    Keep me warm, let me wear your coat
    (help me)

    No one knows what it's like

    I do Pete x

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