Etta James

I'd Rather Go Blind

Composed by Bill Foster / Ellington Jordan

Song Review by

The B-side of the Top Ten hit "Tell Mama," "I'd Rather Go Blind" is of such great quality that it makes that release one of the great double-sided singles of the period, rivaling the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields"/"Penny Lane" for sheer artistic moxie. A basic soul-blues stroll rhythm and melody guide the song along gently, but with a firm hand. Lyrically, the confessional stance of the lyrics takes it into the realm of some of the better gospel songs of the mid- to late 20th century. Heartbreaking and soulful, the premise of the title is affecting enough, yet the sheer poetry of the words takes it to an even higher place. James' vocal delivery is, of course, unparalleled and positively drips with emotion, giving the entire song and recording a bittersweet feeling that is undeniable.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Tell Mama [Chess] 1968 MCA/Chess
Etta, Red-Hot & Live 1982 Quicksilver 4:36
No Image 1983 Chess
The Late Show: Blues in the Night, Vol. 2 1986 Ace
No Image 1988 Chess
Great Tomato Blues Package 1989
Various Artists
Rhino 2:37
Blue Heaven 1991
Various Artists
Blue City
No Image 1992 Intermedia 4:29
Chess Blues 1992
Various Artists
Chess 2:34
The Essential Etta James 1993 MCA/Chess 2:34
Art Laboe's Dedicated to You, Vol. 3 1994
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:34
Blues Brother Soul Sister [Dino] 1994
Various Artists
Dino Entertainment 2:35
Live from San Francisco 1994 Private Music 4:48
Art Laboe Killer Oldies 2 1995
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:34
Soul Patrol, Vol. 3 1995
Various Artists
Ripete Records 4:29
This Is Soul, Vol. 2 [Charly] 1996
Various Artists
Charly Budget 2:36
Great Blues Album 1996
Various Artists
Goldies 2:35
Blues Classics [MCA] 1996
Various Artists
Geffen / Interscope 2:35
The Genuine Article: The Best of Etta James 1996 Chess 2:35
Respect Yourself 1997 Iris Musique 4:27
MVP Classic Soul, Vol. 1 1997
Various Artists
MVP Records 2:34
Summer Heat 1997 32 Jazz 4:25
Blues Brother Soul Sister [Time Music] 1997
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Her Best: The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection 1997 Chess 2:35
Great Love Album 1998
Various Artists
Woman Sing the Blues: The Gold Collection 1999
Various Artists
Fine Tune
Gold Collection 1999 Fine Tune 4:26
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection 1999 MCA / Universal Distribution 2:34
Home of the Blues [MCA] 1999
Various Artists
Geffen / MCA 2:36
Good Morning Saigon 1999
Various Artists
The Best of Etta James [Spectrum] 1999 Spectrum Music 2:36
The Best Blues Album in the World Ever 2000
Various Artists
Virgin 2:35
The Chess Box 2000 Chess / Interscope 2:36
The Blues Like It Is 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 4:28
Platinum Series 2000 D-3 4:27
Some Guys Have All the Luck 2000
Various Artists
Connoisseur 2:36
Lifestyles of the Slow and Low Anthology 2000
Various Artists
Barrio Soul 2:33
Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures: Taken From Our Vaults, Vol. 3 2000
Various Artists
Kent 2:37
Natural Blues [Wrasse] 2000
Various Artists
Wrasse 2:35
The Gold Collection: History of the Blues from Aco 2001
Various Artists
Fine Tune 4:24
Back to Black: 1900-1999 2001
Various Artists
Universal International 2:35
Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions 2001 Chess / IMS / MCA/Chess / Universal 2:37
Basic Blues, Vol. 4 2001
Various Artists
Platinum Disc Corp. / Platinum Disc 2:35
Complete Natural Blues 2001
Various Artists
Live and Ready 2002 Classic World Productions, Inc. 4:26
Blues & Soul Masters 2002
Various Artists
WEA International 2:34
No Image 2002
Various Artists
No Image 2002 Pioneer
Platinum Soul Legends 2002
Various Artists
Warner Strategic Marketing
The Best Of Blues Classics 20th Century Masters The Millennium Collection 2003
Various Artists
MCA 2:35
Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: The Best of the Blues 2003
Various Artists
UTV 2:35
Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Godfathers and Sons 2003
Original Soundtrack
Hip-O 2:34
Live in New York 2003 Acrobat 4:28
For Your Precious Love [Goldies] 2004
Various Artists
Double Gold
Rock Me Baby 2004 Liquid 8 4:24
Soul Sensations [Ripete] 2004
Various Artists
Ripete Records 4:26
Great Women Blues Singers: Gold Collection 2004
Various Artists
Retro Music
Midnight Blues [Time Life] 2004
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:36
In the Mood for Blues [Universal] 2004
Various Artists
Universal International 2:36
Beginner's Guide to the Blues 2005
Various Artists
Demon Records / Nascente 2:37
The Very Best of Etta James: The Chess Singles 2005 Universal 2:34
Mojo Chess Tearjerkers 2005
Various Artists
Chess 2:36
Story Songs and Voices of the Blues: Live 2005 Direct Source 4:53
Enduring Soul 2005 DV&A / Hear Music 2:36
The Definitive Collection 2006 Geffen / Universal 2:36
The Chess Story 2006
Various Artists
R&B Soul:  Etta James 2006 Direct Source 4:53
Blues Legends/Blues in the Night 2006
Various Artists
Direct Source Special 4:53
Gold 2007 Hip-O / Hip-O/Chess 2:35
18 Greatest 2007 Direct Source 4:53
Blues from the Big Apple 2007 Music Avenue 4:28
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Greatest Ever / Union Square Music
Best of Etta James: Green Series 2008 Strategic Marketing / Universal Distribution 2:36
Ultimate Collection: Soul 2008
Various Artists
Union Square Music 2:33
Playlist Your Way 2008 Geffen 2:35
Take Me to the River: A Southern Soul Story 1961-1977 2008
Various Artists
Kent Soul 2:37
Chess Chartbusters, Vol. 1 2008
Various Artists
Spectrum Music / Universal 2:35
The Best of Chess Records 2008
Various Artists
Geffen / Chess / Universal-Island Records
Live & In the Studio 2008 Golden Stars 4:34
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:35
Playlist: The Very Best of Etta James 2009 Legacy 6:21
She's Got Soul 2009
Various Artists
Hear Music 2:36
A Complete Introduction to Chess 2010
Various Artists
Universal Distribution / Universal Music Group International 2:34
Icon 2010 Geffen 2:35
At Last: The Best of Etta James 2010 Decca / Universal 2:34
Heart & Soul: A Retrospective 2011 Hip-O Select 2:34
Greatest Ever! Sad Songs 2012
Various Artists
Union Square Music 2:36
Plug It In! Turn It Up! Electric Blues - The Definitive Collection, Pt. 3: 1960-1969 2012
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 2:35
Live at Montreux 1975-1993 2012 Eagle / Eagle Records 7:13
The  Complete Private Music Blues, Rock 'n' Soul Albums Collection 2012 Sony Legacy / Sony Music Distribution / Sony Music Entertainment 4:55
No Image 2013 4 Men with Beards 2:33
No Image 2014 K-Tel 4:35
Suicide Squad: The Album 2016
Original Soundtrack
Atlantic 2:35
American Blues Busters
Various Artists
Dino Records
Blues Classics [Disky]
Various Artists
No Image
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
No Image
Various Artists
The Collection
No Image
Various Artists
On the Charts: 1948 to 1972 - Blues, Soul, R&B and Rock 'n Roll
Various Artists
The  Blues History, Vol. 3
Various Artists
No Image
Various Artists
Dino Entertainment
The Blues [Quicksilver]
Various Artists
Quicksilver 5:35
blue highlight denotes editor's pick