Song of the Day #586: ‘Sad Eyes’ – Josh Rouse

In 2005, Josh Rouse released Nashville, my favorite of his albums and (probably not coincidentally) the one that introduced me to his work. Every track on this album is superb. Listening to it as preparation for this blog entry, I started reconsidering placing it at only #8 on my decade’s-best list.

In contrast to the two concept-heavy records that preceded it, Nashville is just a collection of songs. But the musical exploration of those records helped settle Rouse into a songwriting groove that had him hitting the sweet spot on every one of these tracks. From the Smiths-inspired ‘Welcome to the Hamptons’ to the blues-swing of ‘Why Won’t You Tell Me What,’ every note feels like the right one.

The album title is a salute to the city where Rouse first made his name but there is very little country influence on this record or in any of his music. But he seems to have soaked up the spirit of Nashville if not its sound. Over the course of his career Rouse has made a point of heading in unexpected directions. Next week you’ll find out about his latest and most exotic excursion.

‘Sad Eyes’ is a cousin to ‘Late Night Conversation’ on his debut album… a song for a woman trapped in a bad relationship. This is essentially a self-help song, encouraging her to fight through the darkness into the light. The song does that, too, segueing from a stately piano ballad into a musical epiphany toward the end.

Southern style, things are slow
You’re watching all the speeding cars
Moving like you wish you could
But, oh, it’s too bad
Cause they drove away your happiness
And good times

But I’m gonna get you into the light
And I’m gonna find a way that is right
And I’m gonna get you into the light
And make it okay

Sad eyes
You are the only one
Whose blue skies are gray
So don’t cry
You’ll be the only one
To make them go away

You’re so young and so bored
You were staying out ’til late
Cause it was what your husband hated
But, oh, it’s too bad
Cause he’s stolen all your happiness
And good times

But I’m gonna get you into the light
And I’m gonna find a way that is right
And I’m gonna get you into the light
And make it okay

Sad eyes
You are the only one
Whose blue skies are gray
So don’t cry
You’ll be the only one
To make them go away
Yeah, you could make them go away

Took a lot of tears
But all you had to find was
Sympathetic years
The ones you left behind, yeah

And I’m gonna get you into the light
And I’m gonna find a way that is right
And I’m gonna get you into the light
And make it okay

Sad eyes
You are the only one
Whose blue skies are gray
So don’t cry
You’ll be the only one
To make them go away, yeah

Things are gonna go your way
Yeah, they’re gonna go your way
Oh, they’re bound to go your way


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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #586: ‘Sad Eyes’ – Josh Rouse

  1. Amy says:

    I’m wondering why he’s the one who is going to “get [her] into the light.” Isn’t that her job, as he points out when he says “you’ll be the only one to make them go away”?

    That changed at 2:56 was not what I was expecting. Wow. Not sure I like that part of the song nearly as much as the first three minutes, but it’s certainly a cool choice. I do like the final minute, starting around 3:44, though it becomes a bit too repetitive for me.

    As for the title of his album, what we learned while in Nashville, is that the city is home to so many musicians and so many musical styles that what it supports and celebrates more than anything is music. It’s “Music City” after all, not “Country Music City,” so I don’t find it at all unusual that a musical artist who spent any significant time there would be grateful for that experience.

  2. Dana says:

    I loved this song from the first time I heard it And I find the tempo change 3/4 way in to be perfect.

    I’m looking forward to hearing where Rouse went after this great album. Hard to imagine he ever topped this one though.

  3. Clay says:

    I agree that the tempo change is perfect, though I’m sure I was surprised by it the first time I heard it. Can’t imagine it any other way now.

    Maybe he’s going to get her into the light be convincing her that she’s the only one to make them go away? :-)

    I don’t think he has topped this album yet but his next one (due out in a month or so, I think) looks very promising.

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