Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Behind Blues Eyes

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Pete Townshend (1971).
Hit versions by The Who (US #34 1971), Limp Bizkit (US #71/UK #18/AUS #4/NZ #5/SWE #1/SPN #1 2003).

From the wiki: “‘Behind Blue Eyes’ was originally written by Pete Townshend for his aborted Lifehouse project. According to Townshend, the song’s origin happened after a Who concert in Denver on 9 June 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 …’

“The song is sung from the point of view of the main villain of Lifehouse, 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 completed.

“The version of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ on the original Who’s Next album was the second version the band recorded; the first was recorded at the Record Plant in New York on 18 March 1971 and features Al Kooper on Hammond organ. It would not be released until 1995, as a bonus track on the CD reissue of Who’s Next. The released album version of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ was recorded 8 July 1971 at Olympic Studios in London.

“‘Behind Blue Eyes’ was covered in 2003 by American rap rock group Limp Bizkit, and released as a promotional single from their album Results May Vary. Their arrangement was notable for featuring a ‘Speak & Spell’ during the bridge.

“Although considered a critical failure in the US (numerous negative reviews, a Billboard Hot 100 peak of only #71), the Limp Bizkit cover was more successful worldwide, topping music charts in Spain and Sweden and reaching Top-5 status in several other countries including Australia, New Zealand and Germany.”

The Who, “Behind Blue Eyes” original recording with Al Kooper (1971):

The Who, “Behind Blue Eyes” album version (1971):

Limp Bizkit, “Behind Blue Eyes” (2003):

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