Driven by a keyboard that marked many early 90’s R&B recordings, “Someone Else’s Eyes” arrives with an appetizing melody on the hook. Written by Burt Bacharach, Carol Bayer Sager, and Bruce Roberts (co-writer of “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)”), the song takes Aretha in somewhat of a different direction.
Lyrically it’s an introspective departure, something topically unique amongst the many, many songs recorded by Aretha. She candidly describes taking herself for granted, singing to someone else’s melody, not really being herself, and essentially only loving herself through the lens of someone else. It’s a powerful message coming from a powerful woman.
Vocally, Aretha gives a straightforward performance, accentuated by her changing voice of the time. She was in her final years of smoking, and they more than made their mark. Her maturing voice found its’ upper register diminished, and a raspy quality took hold from top to bottom. It’s not at its most powerful, yet it is mesmerizing, As I continued to listen, I found myself returning not just to “Someone Else’s Eyes” and What You See Is What You Sweat, but other moments from around this time, such as Aretha’s fantastic cover of Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free”. The song feels tailor-made to her, and her voice in that time. Even the key-change, which of course creates a surge in the song and Aretha lands exactly where it should.
During a Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon in 1990, Aretha beamed in from Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City gave a somewhat disjointed performance of “Someone Else’s Eyes.” The tempo is slowed down, which seems to dismay Aretha, who continually raises her hand and snaps, as if to indicate the tempo she’s looking for from her band and drummer. Nevertheless, she powers through, looking rather ravishing in an emerald green gown.
Aretha also performed the song at Radio City Music Hall in 1990, and on a few other occasions as she toured surrounding the What You See Is What You Sweat LP.
Listen to Someone Else’s Eyes: