The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) will induct the 54.40 song “I Go Blind” with a live virtual presentation to lead singer Neil Osborne, airing on Breakfast Television, on Thursday, April 1, 2021.
The Canadian hit and SOCAN Classic song, written and recorded by the Vancouver alt-rock band, enjoyed success twice: the first time as recorded and released by the group in 1986, and the second time a decade later when a cover by Hootie & The Blowfish unexpectedly became a Billboard Top Five hit.
“Although the song’s meaning has taken on different significance for each generation, its anti-apathy message and challenge to seek truth and purpose continues to resonate in 2021,” said Vanessa Thomas, CSHF Executive Director. “‘I Go Blind’ was embraced by Canadians when it was released in 1986, but the global popularity that Hootie & The Blowfish gave to the song helped to shine a deserving spotlight on its lyrics and great song writing.”
“I Go Blind,” written by 54.40 members Neil Osborne, Philip Comparelli, Brad Merritt, and Darryl Neudorf, continues to enjoy success, with a delightful rootsy re-recording appearing on 54.40’s 2016 unplugged album La Difference.
54.40 was signed by Warner/Reprise Records, but the label disappointingly chose to distribute “I Go Blind” in Canada only, in 1986. Undeterred, 54.40 forged on with other projects, steadily increasing their fan base and album sales over the ensuing decade. Then, “I Go Blind” found a new lease on life, when in 1994 Hootie & The Blowfish recorded a faithful cover as the B-side to the single “Hold My Hand.” After this version was featured on the hit television sitcom Friends and the show’s soundtrack album, it skyrocketed to the top of the charts.
By February 1997, “I Go Blind” was charting on not just one, but several Billboard charts. It peaked at No. 2 Adult Top 40 and hit No. 13 (Hot 100), No. 17 (Mainstream Top 40 Airplay) and No. 22 (Adult Contemporary), and reached No. 13 on Canada’s RPM chart. The royalties enabled 54.40 to build their own Vancouver recording studio. It also appeared on Hootie & The Blowfish’s Scattered, Smothered and Covered album in 2000.
Formed in 1981 in Vancouver, 54.40 has had a string of Gold and Platinum albums, a B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame Star, and has been inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame. The band has won two West Coast Music Awards, two SOCAN Classic Song Awards, and several JUNO nominations.