The song is about a man who has cheated on his woman and he is angry with both her (for leaving him) and himself for having done what he has done....
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 hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That's never free

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

No one bites back as hard
On their anger
None of my pain and woe
Can show through

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

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

When my fist clenches, crack it open
Before I use it and lose my cool
When I smile, tell me some bad news
Before I laugh and act like a fool

And if I swallow anything evil
Put your finger down my throat
And if I shiver, please give me a blanket
Keep me warm, let me wear your coat

No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes


Lyrics submitted by dsfire, edited by BjarkeTN, iKanhelp, riscphree

"Behind Blue Eyes" as written by Pete Townshend

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, SPIRIT MUSIC GROUP

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Behind Blue Eyes song meanings
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144 Comments

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  • +6
    Song MeaningThe song is about a man who is "bad", as he is selfish (let me wear your coat), and is only capable of feeling anger. When he says "my love is vengeance, that's never free", I think it refers not to love specifically, but the only passion, desire he is capable of feeling is hate, revenge.

    But the thing is, this man doesn't want to be this way. "My dreams aren't as empty as my conscience seems to be". He aspires to be a better person, but simply isn't strong enough. Because of this, he became even more bitter, thus the blue (sad) eyes.
    MagicMannon March 11, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWikipedia: "The lyrics are a first-person lament from a man in the Lifehouse story, variously identifed as 'Brick' or '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. (The lyrics of the rocking section near the end were actually written by Townshend as a prayer when he was a disciple of Meher Baba after being tempted by a groupie, and incorporated into the song when it was written.)"

    So, yeah. I find the prayer part very interesting - if Pete really did write that originally for himself, the "when I smile" line seems kind of odd to me... I've never heard of Townshend being particularly frown-ish. Maybe, then, the line is a somewhat subtle way of saying "When I'm falling into temptation please stop me from going further" - as in a sort of "when I smile at the groupie, tell me some bad news, before I laugh and give in to her charm" kind of thing. Er... yeah.
    Jeremiah Blackon September 05, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOk, I feel like breaking down the song to show how I feel connected to it...It'll probably sound similar to what some other people said, but whatever...

    No one knows what it's like
    To be the bad man
    To be the sad man
    Behind blue eyes

    (When you appear to always be the bad guy, nobody understands you...they don't car, because you aren't worth their time. You are just a guy that nobody likes. The fact that you are sad is because you realize that nobody feels for you)

    No one knows what it's like
    To be hated
    To be fated
    To telling only lies

    (Some people end up in unlucky situations, and are stuck between bad options and worse options. If telling the truth would unnecessarily hurt someone, when telling a lie would not and it isn't important enough to bother with, telling the lie is the better option. But suppose you are caught in the lie. Now, even though you were trying to help, you end up being the one that nobody trusts)

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

    (Often people in these situations feel trapped in these events, even though inside they really are good people, nobody sees that. They only see the heartless person who always lies and hurts people)

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

    (This person is often unliked by most people, and spends a lot of time alone just thinking about why things go wrong. They seek to change their fortunes, to get revenge on life, but it always ends up hurting worse in the end)

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

    (Eventually, the person comes to resent others, even their friends or loved ones, for not being able to understand their situation)

    No one bites back as hard
    On their anger
    None of my pain and woe
    Can show through

    (The person may eventually seek to hide all of their emotions from everyone, so as to avoid the situations which cause the person to be hated.)

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

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

    (The chorus is important here, because it shows that even though the person has changed, become withdrawn from others, they still feel the same about themselves. They are still trying to be a good person, but it just gets harder)

    When my fist clenches, crack it open
    Before I use it and lose my cool

    (The person sometimes bursts with emotion, because of keeping it locked up so much. Eventually, it has to come out. This could be anger which turns quickly into violence)

    When I smile, tell me some bad news
    Before I laugh and act like a fool

    (It could be happiness, but if expressed at inopportune times makes the person look worse for being over the top, or possibly stupid)

    And if I swallow anything evil
    Put your finger down my throat
    And if I shiver, please give me a blanket
    Keep me warm; let me wear your coat

    (As the rest of the bridge, the person asks for someone, anyone, to keep them from doing the things that are causing them to be reviled, even when it isn't their fault)

    No one knows what it's like
    To be the bad man
    To be the sad man
    Behind blue eyes

    (The repeated first lines show that the plea was unheard or unanswered and that the person cannot leave the cycle.)
    Arquibuson September 27, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think this song is empathetic (as in, helps you wear someone else's shoes for a while) without being sympathetic (as in, you still don't feel for the guy even after wearing those shoes). Which is really hard to do. I think it's about someone who is a little self-disgusted but too afraid to admit it, or do anything about it, or even take responsibility for it.

    I think during the bridge, "and if I swallow anything evil/ stick your fingers down my throat", was a drug reference. He's basically admitting he has zero self control, so you're going to have to be the grown up if you're with him. "Keep me warm, let me wear your coat". You being warm isn't important. I'm the important one here.

    Basically, I feel like it's a song about the kind of guy we all love to talk about and hate. It's about a powerful man-child that must be kept after like a child, yet won't ever show appreciation and will still feel superior to their caretaker. It could be about anyone from Lex Luthor to a heroine addict with a girlfriend that's given up her life to keep after him. But what makes this song special, is that it forces us inside this person's head, and forces us to admit that yes, sometimes, we are that way too, and we're about as eager to let others know about it as the villian this song is about when we notice.
    wontbackdownon September 01, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHow can My Wifre be Pete talking about being homosexual, when it was written and sung by the late John Entiwsistle?
    Im_Nexton September 10, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI seem to recall hearing a clip of Pete saying that although he wrote it, Roger made it his song in the way he sung it.
    regbon April 20, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think its more simple than some of your thoughts.
    I think its simply about someone who is angry and bad on the outside, a record executive would fit, as headlessparrot said. They tell lies, are hated and have a love for vengeance.

    But inside they are sad and have dreams of being something else. They seem to have no conscience but deep inside I guess they still do.
    As my conscience SEEMS to be

    He seems to blame others for these feelings, and bites back on their anger implies that after he has been angry with someone, it hurts him aswell, but he never shows that, he can never show his weakness.

    The part where the music changes can be sepatated into 2 line parts. He says when his fist clenches, crack it open etc. He doesnt want to be angry and mean. The first 2 lines are to do with his outside image, the next 2 lines are to do with his feelings inside he wants to hide...
    When I smile tell me some bad news
    Before I laugh act like a fool.
    He doesnt want anyone to see these inside feelings.
    The moments of "weakness"

    Thats my take. Thought I'd explain the lyrics.
    Jabberclackerson April 11, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMy thougts are, Its a teen thing, stuggle of the inner man to get out and the child to be lashed in. Its all really ugly actually.
    Brothergrimson April 21, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think Pete's recent legal trouble should prove beyond any doubt what the song is about. Being a pedophile.

    It's glaringly obvious to me, and it has been since the first time I heard it (which was recently). Put aside all your hate and revulsion for a second, try to think of it from his point of you, and read the lyrics again.
    "No one knows what it's like
    To be the bad man
    To be the sad man
    Behind blue eyes"
    CounterfeitSainton February 21, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI hate how people think this is a Limb Bizcit song.
    babathespider515on July 09, 2006   Link

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