Woodstock Collection – Eyesight to the Blind
Eyesight to the Blind
This was performed by The Who at Woodstock in the early hours of Sunday the 17th of August 1969. The Who used this song, (Original: Sonny Boy Williamson, 1951) with new music by Pete Townsend in their rock opera, Tommy. Here we see woman in the guise of Marilyn Monroe, as the centre of a strange religious cult. Her statue is worshipped in the hope that she will heal the assembled people. Tommy is in the audience, and he is both blind and deaf. When he finally gets to touch the statue it falls to the ground, and breaks. The woman, it seems, can no longer heal, or perhaps he is too broken and beyond her powers.
The song was originally written by Sonny Boy Williamson in 1951, and was a simple 12 bar blues number. It is a love song, where he extols the beauty and peace brought to him by his ‘woman’. She can heal the world, and even ‘bring eyesight to the blind’. I also hear it as a tribute to mother earth, who has the power to heal and nurture, if treated right. I am very aware of the dated, sexist notion of the lady in the song being ‘his woman’, but that was how things were seen at the time.
If you carry the allegory forward, is this ‘our earth’? Do we own this beauty embodied in the form of the earth mother? And if we do feel a sense of ownership, do we to take care with this great treasure. Like Sonny Boy’s woman, she can heal and nurture, but I fear we are misusing the earth and her treasures.
This offering is my interpretation of what it might be like to regain your sight. On opening your eyes for the first time the blinding whiteness of light slowly gives way to the beauty of colour, banishing forever the darkness. My thoughts are to consider opening our eyes to see the beauty of this planet we call home, and to learn to love and care for it while we still can.
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