I'd Rather Go Blind

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I'd Rather Go Blind

Etta James - Tell Mama - Italy.jpg

Vinyl single - Italy.

Artist Etta James
Published 1967-??-??
Composer Ellington Jordan, Etta James, Billy Foster.
Genre Soul, Blues
Themes Breakup, Depression, Desire
Rating Rating-6.svg

I'd Rather Go Blind is soul song sung by Etta James. It was first published as the B-side of the Tell Mama single in 1967, and then included on the Tell Mama album in February 1968. The song was quite popular and made it onto multiple Billboard charts and has been covered by dozens of artists.

The initial outline of the song was written by Ellington Jordan while he was in prison. Jordan sung the song to Etta James when she visited him and she helped flesh out the rest of it. For tax reasons, James gave her songwriting credit to her partner at the time, Billy Foster. The song was recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in 1967 and produced by Rick Hall. On the recording, Etta James sings vocals, David Hood plays bass, Roger Hawkins plays drums, Gene Miller played trumpet, Floyd Newman played baritone saxophone, and multiple people are listed on the album for keyboard, organ, and tenor sax, so I'm not sure who played on the recording.

The premise of the song is pretty simple. A woman discovers that her boyfriend has left her for another woman, but she is so much in love with him, that she would rather be blind than to have to see him leave her.


Although it's possible I heard the song sometime prior in my life, the first time I remember hearing this song is in the video game Firewatch. While the lyrics don't quite fit the story of the game, the feeling the song evokes fits the emotions in the game perfectly. I liked the song and eventually sought it out so that I could listen to it as part of my collection.

I'm usually not much of a fan of soul music, but this one is particularly good. I love the organ and bass instrument combination throughout the song, and James belts out powerful vocals which really emphasize the despair and anguish. The only thing I don't like about the song is how the end just sort of peters out.


Something told me it was over, (yeah)
When I saw you and her talking.
Something deep down in my soul said, "cry girl." (cry, cry)
When I saw you and that girl, walking now.

Ooh! I would rather, I would rather go blind boy,
Than to see you walk away from me child, no.

Ooh! So you see, I love you so much,
That I don't want to watch you leave me babe.
Most of all, I just don't,
I just don't want to be free no, ooh ooh!

I was just, I was just, I was just sitting here thinking,
Of your kiss and your warm embrace, yeah.
When the reflection in the glass,
That I held to my lips now baby, (yeah, yeah)
Revealed the tears that was on my face, yeah, ooh.

And babe, baby (baby, baby, baby) I'd rather
I'd rather be blind boy.
Than to see you walk away, see you walk away from me, yeah
Ooh! Baby, baby, baby (baby, baby, bay)
I'd rather be blind now.




Album version.
Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 1975.
Live at the Newport Jazz Festival, 1991-08-17.


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