To be the sad man

Jun 11th, 2012 | By | Category: Pop thinking

Driving the road south-west from Dublin, radio stations not playing country and western music become few and far between. Constantly flicking the tuning switch can sometimes mean finding a Dublin station that is audible up to fifty miles from the capital. In Co Carlow this evening, it was still possible to listen to Radio Nova; still possible to hear ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ by The Who being played.

On a June night five years ago, The Who played Marlay Park in Dublin. The Irish rain stopped for a couple of hours and the crowd of 30,000 were transported through decades of music. Amidst the casual concert goers, there were real aficionados. One twenty-something was a real fan. Dressed in a parka and khaki cap with 1960s haircut and sideburns, he sat on a friend’s shoulders for much of the concert, singing along with every word.

When it came to the song ‘Behind blue eyes’ he turned to everyone around him and joined in the words animatedly. A friend standing near me joked that maybe he wouldn’t be singing if he knew what the words were about. The song by Pete Townshend was intended as a lament filled with anger and angst:

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

If I swallow anything evil
Put your finger down my throat
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

Maybe he did understand the lyrics; maybe that’s why he sang with such force. No-one knows what it’s like to be behind any of our eyes. Driving through Co Carlow this evening, he came to mind; five years on, what is life now like for him?

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  1. Robert and David were there at that Concert that night. They were at Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers last Turrs. David met Tom Petty casually in Grafton Street and had lovely chat. He also told him what music he would like to hear. The previous day David met Mike one of the Group in Grafton St too buying himself new shoes.

  2. I would have loved to have been at the Tom Petty concert!

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