A few years ago, I worked near a now-defunct CD Warehouse and would browse the discount racks on the odd lunch break. At the time, I was digging through blues records to get a better understanding of the genre and found an Etta James greatest hits album. With CD’s being phased out, I grabbed the album cheap and started picking out favourites. To be completely honest, a lot her songs didn’t play to my tastes, but one song in particular captured my heart.
‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ is one of Etta’s better known songs, and for good reason. The backing track to her vocals is smooth and swingy with very little effort. A strong bass line and simple high hat is all that’s needed to set the stage for Etta to pour her heart out. The soul of the song can be heard in the soft chorus and organ that accents every sentiment sung.
A song about heartache and undying love, ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ shows exactly what the blues/gospel does so well. Like so many of the greatest torch songs, ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ hits on that powerfully low feeling that comes with breaking up with someone. The feeling of desperation and self-pity oozes from every word, and does so with a sincerity that can only come from a legend like Etta James.