The Alan Parsons Project- Eye in the Sky

Songfacts:

  • The rumor has it that this song gets its theme from George Orwell’s 1984, which revolves around a dystopian future where citizens are constantly monitored by a totalitarian world government. However, even the official page of the Alan Parsons project which talks about this song doesn’t mention any connection. There is also nothing in the lyrics to connect it with this novel – those of us who have actually read the book know that there are no specific references to “eyes in the sky” i.e. satellites and such, but just cameras and telescreens everywhere. Meanwhile, the lyrics make no reference to Big Brother, Ingsoc, Newspeak, proles, ministries, Room 101, and so on, which is common jargon in the book. So, let’s just say this is unconfirmed, and caution people about making snap judgments regarding a novel which has become such a potent counter-culture icon in exactly the same way that Guy Fawkes – and Che Guevara before him – became counter-culture fashion. Otherwise we’d end up with a doubleplusungood untruth

    A little more credible is the claim that it’s a reference to ceiling cameras, particularly in casinos, where the same term “eye in the sky” is used. However, the basic message is that of somebody dumping a lover, while asserting that they know too well how the reaction will be.

  • Lead vocals were from Eric Woolfson, Parsons’ main collaborator. He was Parsons’ lyricist and manager.

    The Alan Parsons Project used various members on lead vocals; Woolfson would usually record a guide vocal and Alan Parsons, who was also the group’s producer, would decide whose voice best suited the song. In later years, Parsons toured with a band and sang this song during performances.

  • In some ways, this is an extension of The Alan Parsons Project’s previous album The Turn of a Friendly Card, which deals with gambling. Woolfson spent a lot of time in casinos and was fascinated with the hidden cameras watching his every move.
  • This was the most successful song the group ever had and was their only US Top-10 hit. It didn’t fare as well in the UK, but then again, none of their songs did.
  • Parsons is a very successful sound engineer. He has worked on such albums as Abbey Road by the Beatles and Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. (thanks Jeff – Kendall Park, NJ for above 2)
  • Parsons didn’t think highly of this song and had to be convinced to put it on the album. As Woolfson tells it, he and the other musicians loved the song, but Parsons thought so little of it that he bet their guitarist Ian Bairnson that it would not be a hit.
  • The cover art to the album Eye in the Sky – this song is the title track – has the famous Egyptian symbol of the eye of Horus. Horus was one of the bird-headed Egyptian gods, with the head of a falcon. The eye symbol itself – in ironic contradiction to the lyrics – meant protection, power, and health.
  • On the album, an instrumental track “Sirius” proceeds and leads into “Eye in the Sky.” “Sirius” ended up getting dropped from the beginning of the song when it got airplay, only to wind up becoming the rally song for the basketball team Chicago Bulls.
  • While it is true that this was the only Top 10 US hit for The Alan Parsons Project, they actually had eight Top 40 entries from 1976 to 1984.

The live version c. 2004

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