Limp Bizkit, ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ – Terrible Classic Rock Covers
On one side, there’s one of the most revered rock bands of all time undertaking a landmark album with an electrifying combination of subtlety and power. On the other side, there’s one of the most reviled bands of the past 20 years demolishing a rock classic with the ham-fisted arrogance with which they approached their own intolerable music.
In 2003, as Limp Bizkit‘s presence began to wane (following two No. 1 albums, including 2000′s ‘Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water,’ truly one of the worst-titled records in history), the band — led by Fred Durst, a polarizing frontman whose merging of rap and rock revealed his total lack of comprehension of either genre — released their fourth album, ‘Results May Vary.’ The group’s guitarist had quit a couple of years before, leaving Durst alone at the helm and with no one to call him on his bad ideas.
And he had plenty of terrible ones for ’Results May Vary,’ including a decision to make it a personal record that also showcased the band’s musical diversity. But it didn’t turn out that way. Not at all. With Durst’s open-diary confessions reading more like spoiled rock-star whining and the band’s turns into less-abrasive territory coming off clumsy and pretentious, ‘Results May Vary’ was a commercial and critical bomb.
Still, the album’s Durst-penned songs, all 15 of them, were nothing compared to the penultimate track: a cover of the Who‘s ‘Behind Blue Eyes.’ Durst (wrongly) assumed that his cover of the song would prop up his own material and give the album a defining heft. The frontman also presumed that by opening his heart (albeit with someone else’s words) with a song about being misunderstood, haters would be more sympathetic to his heavy burden as spokesman for a generation of backward baseball cap-wearing bros.
The Who’s version, from their classic 1971 album ‘Who’s Next,’ strikes a complex balance of hidden shame and outward aggression. Originally part of Pete Townshend‘s ‘Lifehouse’ project for the band, ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ was told from the perspective of the abandoned rock opera’s antagonist. Durst, however, turns the song into a taxing exercise in gloomy self-pity. To cap it all, he adds a Speak & Spell — the ’80s speech-synthesizer toy — passage to the bridge for no discernible reason.
Limp Bizkit were almost immediately skewered for their pointless cover of ‘Behind Blue Eyes.’ Defiant to the end, Durst released the song as a single, and it managed to climb to No. 71 (it fared a little better on the rock-radio charts, reaching No. 11 at mainstream and No. 18 at modern). By then, the damage was done. When Limp Bizkit released their next album two years later, they couldn’t even crack the Top 20.
Watch the Who Perform ‘Behind Blue Eyes’