I'd Rather Go Blind
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"I'd Rather Go Blind" is an R&B song written by Ellington Jordan and co-credited to Billy Foster. It was first recorded by Etta James in 1969, and has subsequently become regarded as a blues and soul classic. It has since been recorded by a wide variety of artists including Clarence Carter, Little Milton, Chicken Shack, Koko Taylor, Rod Stewart, B.B. King, Paul Weller, Ruby Turner, Sydney Youngblood and Beyoncé Knowles for the Cadillac Records Soundtrack.
Original version by Etta James
Etta James wrote in her autobiography Rage To Survive , she heard the song outlined by her friend Ellington "Fugi" Jordan when she visited him in prison. She then wrote the rest of the song with Jordan, but for tax reasons gave her songwriting credit to her partner at the time, Billy Foster.
Etta James recorded the song at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It was included on the album Tell Mama and as the B-side of the single of the same name which made # 10 on the Billboard R&B charts and # 23 on the pop charts. Some critics have regarded "I'd Rather Go Blind" as of such emotional and poetic quality that it makes that release one of the great double-sided singles of the period:-
- Something told me it was over
- When I saw you and her talking
- Something deep down in my soul said, 'Cry, girl'
- When I saw you and that girl walking around
- Oh, I would rather go blind, boy
- Than to see you walk away from me, child
- You see I love you so much that I don't want to watch you leave me, baby
- Most of all, I just don't want to be free, no
Critic Dave Marsh put the song in his book The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made.
A version of the song was the follow-up single to UK singer Sydney Youngblood's third single release, "Ain't No Sunshine", which was popular in the UK. Although "Ain't No Sunshine" peaked in the UK Top 20, "I'd Rather Go Blind" missed the Top 40, peaking at # 44 on the UK pop charts. However, it appeared on Now That's What I Call Music! 17. It appeared on the CD before the actual single was released.