October 22, 2020

Black Widow’s Eyes

Drums: Zak Starkey

Pete: "A love song. We sometimes fall in love when we do not want to, and when we do not expect to. Suddenly. Foolishly. This song is about the man holding a child in the Beslan massacre who described the female terrorist who blew herself up, killing the child he held, as ‘having the most penetrating and beautiful eyes’." Roger: "Pete’s written a song about Stockholm syndrome. It’s called ‘Black Widow’s Eyes.’ The fact that he’s done that in music and words, and he completely sums up Stockholm syndrome in this song, is so haunting."

The song refers to a hostage crisis at School Number One in the town of Beslan in North Ossetia. On September 1, 2004, Islamic Chechan terrorists seized the school, holding over 1200 adults and children hostage. Russian troops stormed the school and 344 people were killed, either murdered by the terrorists or caught in the crossfire. Among the Chechan terrorists were women wearing traditional niqabs (veils) covering their faces showing only their eyes. They were wearing explosives in order to be used as suicide bombers. Such terrorists were given the name "shahidka" in Russian or "black widows" in English after a similar hostage taking in a Moscow theatre in 2002. At press time, I have been unable to find the article with the words of the survivor of the Beslan massacre Pete quotes above but there is a similar quote from a survivor of the Moscow theatre massacre: "But her eyes! You should have seen these eyes – crazed and shining, awful, as if she was doped up with some narcotic. Our guard was always with us, but I never saw her shoot up or swallow any pills. Such are the eyes of a kamikaze." (L. Stepanova, Okna, Apr. 2005).

"Black Widow’s Eyes" was released as a promotional CD single in Europe backed with "It’s Not Enough." It had its live premiere performed by The Who in Philadelphia Sept. 12, 2006.