This is a song that I haven’t heard or thought of in ages … until … a few nights ago when Clive mentioned it in a comment and then it got stuck in my head, popping up at the strangest times. Well, naturally I had to go listen and share it with you in hopes of clearing it out of the cobwebs that reside in my own brain!
Jackson Browne is a singer/songwriter/musician who has sold over 18 million albums in the U.S., but quite honestly I cannot think of another song of his beyond this one. No doubt that is only a result of my flawed memory. This song, recorded and released in 1972, was written and performed by Jackson Browne and included on his debut album Jackson Browne.
Browne’s Southern California musical cohorts David Crosby and Graham Nash sang harmony vocals. Brown was signed to Asylum Records, which was owned by David Geffen. According to Jackson, Geffen asked Nash if he thought there was a single on the album (Browne’s first), and Nash picked this one, with the proviso that Browne add a high vocal part, which he did.
This was Jackson Browne’s first single. The song isn’t typical of his work; it runs just 2:55 and lacks the personal, introspective lyrics he’s known for. Still, the song did very well in the U.S., and remained a fan favorite, garnering lots of airplay on classic rock and adult contemporary radio, and often earning a spot on Browne’s setlists.
Getting that first hit under his belt was satisfying for Browne, whose first recorded album (in 1968) was never released. The guitar solo on this song was played by Jesse Ed Davis, a brilliant but troubled musician who performed on albums by Willie Nelson, Marvin Gaye and John Lennon. Davis died in 1988 at age 43 in what appeared to be a drug overdose.
In the UK, it was The Jackson 5 who had a hit with this song; their 1973 cover went to #9. On their version, Jermaine Jackson came in too early and ended up repeating the first line. His error was allowed to remain in the final mix. I had no idea until tonight that The Jackson 5 had even covered this! It isn’t their best work, in my book, but I shall offer it tonight along with the Jackson Browne version, as I have almost as many in the UK who follow my music posts as in the U.S.
This reached #4 in Canada, #8 in the U.S., and as best I can tell, the Jackson Browne version did not chart in the UK.
Doctor My Eyes
Doctor, my eyes have seen the years
And the slow parade of fears without crying
Now I want to understand
I have done all that I could
To see the evil and the good without hiding
You must help me if you can
Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what is wrong
Was I unwise to leave them open for so long?
‘Cause I have wandered through this world
And as each moment has unfurled
I’ve been waiting to awaken from these dreams
People go just where they will
I never noticed them until I got this feeling
That it’s later than it seems
Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what you see
I hear their cries
Just say if it’s too late for me
Doctor, my eyes
They cannot see the sky
Is this the prize
For having learned how not to cry?
Songwriters: Jackson Browne
Doctor My Eyes lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group