“Behind Blue Eyes” is a song by the English rock band The Who. It was released in October 1971 as the second single from their fifth album Who’s Next and was originally written by Pete Townshend for his Lifehouse project. The song is one of The Who’s most well known recordings and has been covered by many artists.
“Behind Blue Eyes” originated after a Who concert in Denver on June 9th, 1970. Following the performance, Townshend became tempted by a female groupie, but he instead went back to his room alone, possibly as a result of the teachings of his spiritual leader, Meher Baba. Upon reaching his room, he began writing a prayer, the first words being “When my fist clenches, crack it open…” These words later appeared as lyrics in the “climactic rocking section” of “Behind Blue Eyes.”
When “Behind Blue Eyes” was to be released as part of the aborted Lifehouse project, the song was sung from the point of view of the main villain, Jumbo. The lyrics are a first-person lament from Jumbo, who is always angry and full of angst because of all the pressure and temptation that surrounds him, and the song was intended to be his “theme song” had the project been successful. Pete Townshend said of the song’s lyrics: