Jackson Browne - Doctor My Eyes (1972)

Jackson Browne - Doctor My Eyes on Jackson Browne (Saturate Before Using)
"Doctor, My Eyes" is a 1972 song written and performed by Jackson Browne and included on his debut album Jackson Browne. Featuring a combination of an upbeat piano riff coupled, somewhat ironically, with lyric about feeling world-weary, the song was a surprise hit, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in spring 1972, after debuting on the chart at #80. Browne would not see the chart's Top 10 again until 1982's soundtrack hit "Somebody's Baby", although "Running on Empty" just missed the Top 10, reaching #11. Billboard ranked "Doctor My Eyes" as the No. 92 song for 1972. In Canada, the song peaked at number four.



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1 comment:

  1. The Jackson 5’s 1972 release Lookin' Through the Windows found the group searching for an identity; the Jackson brothers were maturing, with Michael Jackson gradually transforming from cute-as-a-button wunderkind to a teenager. Perhaps this change in direction explains this unusual choice of cover: Jackson Browne’s “Doctor My Eyes,” the narrative of a world-weary man trying to maintain some sense of optimism. Browne had worked on the track since 1971, with its original lyrics expressing an even more pessimistic view. When he finally recorded it for his self-titled debut album, it had a fast beat and David Crosby’s clear harmonies.

    Browne’s music was a product of the 1970s, when the country was experiencing the fallout from the 1960s’ turbulence. The Vietnam War raged on, Watergate would soon bring down the presidency, and the counterculture’s mantra of “make love, not war” had started fading. These former hippies graduated from college and were finding their way as adults, struggling to stay true to their youthful ideals. Browne songs such as “Running on Empty” and “The Pretender” perfectly capture this inner conflict. “Doctor My Eyes” is no exception, as its narrator expresses concern that he has seen so much that he may become immune; in other words, he may “hear their cries,” but he remains numb, having seen “the evil and the good without hiding.”

    Given these mature themes, quite why the Jackson 5 covered the track remains unclear. However, “Doctor My Eyes” was a huge 1972 hit, peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Berry Gordy and Motown production team the Corporation likely noticed the tune’s popularity, figuring it would give the Jackson 5 crossover appeal. As with other Motown acts, the Jackson 5 transcended genres and defied labels, and thus covering a rock track would emphasize how the group reached general audiences. In addition, they would soon outgrow their “kiddie band” status, and they needed to prove that they could handle more than bubblegum pop.

    Still, “Doctor My Eyes” seems a mismatch for the youthful Jackson 5. As usual, Michael sings the track with gusto, his brothers providing tightly blended backing harmonies. His childlike voice remains at odds with the weariness of the song’s narrator, however. The Jackson 5 makeover performed well in the UK, with the single peaking at #9 in 1973. Yet while they may have achieved some measure of success with “Doctor My Eyes” internationally, it remains one of the strangest covers in the Jackson 5 repertoire. Perhaps their teenage fans simply responded to the bouncy beat, overlooking the lyrics’ pessimism.

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