The “Big Brother” Meaning Behind Alan Parson Project’s 1982 Hit “Eye in the Sky”

Upon its release in 1982, the title track of Alan Parsons Project’s sixth album, “Eye in the Sky” became the band’s biggest U.S. hit, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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The Meaning

“Eye in the Sky” is about being watched or some kind of surveillance, or overhead eyes, watching everything one says or does, a scenario that plays out in the chorus.

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more to know that
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind

George Orwell’s ‘1984

Several theories surfaced around the meaning of the song, including its link to George Orwell’s 1949 novel 1984, which follows a dystopian future where people are monitored by a higher government force. The story also centers around Winston Smith, who is a member of “the Party” and who tires of the ominous “Big Brother” that is overseeing and controlling every aspect of people’s lives.

Though the song was never directly linked to Orwell’s classic novel—which has no references to an “eye in the sky” or other omnipresent observatory platforms—Parsons did link the concept of the entire album to “Big Brother” in 1984.

“We wanted to base the album on the sort of concept of Big Brother is watching you,” said Parsons. “There’s always a camera watching you, there’s always a helicopter in the sky overseeing you, and you can read a line of small newspaper print from space.”

The Cover

Keeping with its theme, the cover of the album also features an illustration of the Egyptian symbol the Eye of Horus, which represents, health and well-being, healing, and protection.

Casino “Eyes”

Another theory of the song goes back to the band’s then-previous 1980 release, The Turn of a Friendly Card, a concept album exploring gambling. At the time, Parsons’ bandmate Eric Woolfson had spent a great deal of time in casinos and was fascinated by the ubiquitous use of cameras at establishments. Dubbed the “eye in the sky,” the term was given to casino and commercial security closed-circuit cameras.

Breaking Up

Written by Parsons and Woolfson, who also sings lead vocals on the track, “Eye in the Sky” can also relate to someone who knows their lover all too well and decides to break things off.

Don’t think sorry’s easily said
Don’t try turning tables instead
You’ve taken lots of chances before
But I ain’t gonna give anymore
Don’t ask me
That’s how it goes
‘Cause part of me knows what you’re thinking

Don’t say words you’re gonna regret
Don’t let the fire rush to your head
I’ve heard the accusation before
And I ain’t gonna take any more
Believe me
The sun in your eyes
Made some of the lies worth believing

[RELATED: Alan Parsons Releases Sixth Album ‘From the New World’]

Eye in the Sky’ Wins Grammy

Though the album was originally nominated for a Grammy for Best Engineered Album when it was released, it would take 35 more years before it received it won the accolade.

In 2017, the 35th-anniversary-edition box set of the album earned Parsons—who was also the sound engineer on the Beatles’ Abbey Road and Let It Be albums, along with Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon—a Grammy for Best Immersive Audio Album. 

Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage

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