"I Only Have Eyes For You" As Recorded By Art Garfunkel

It was probably no one's favorite hit song in 1975.  Those who remembered the 1934 debut of Harry Warren and Al Dubin's "I Only Have Eyes For You" were probably somewhere between the ages 55 and 85.  I'm sure they thought a rock and roll version of a standard —however "soft" it was—was sacrilegious.  Kids and teens who were busy listening to David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen certainly couldn't have thought this was hip.  And Garfunkel's contemporaries? Many thought he was a has-been since he parted ways with Paul Simon five years earlier.  And his decision to record a cover of a 40-year old standard? Come on, that move was particularluly dull and gutless.

Indeed, new versions of antique pop songs are almost always pretty safe—not to mention extra unoriginal, when they come from songwriters.  Notable exceptions include Janis Joplin's rendition of  "Summertime" and Willie Nelson's essential LP Stardust.

It's even a safe move for someone who isn't a songwriter, like Art Garfunkel.  Say what you will about his solo career, but at the very least, his albums were somewhat intriguing because they featured songs by the extraordinary talents of songwriters like Jimmy Webb, Randy Newman and, on 1975's Breakaway, Paul Simon, once again.

Still, with his angelic voice, any Art Garfunkel recording ilistenable.  And the number one hit version "I Only Have Eyes For You" is one of Artie's better cuts.  You can thank the famous producer Richard Perry for the song's success.  Fender rhodes and phaser guitars shouldn't work on a love song that Billie Holliday, Frank Sinatra and The Flamingos helped make even more famous.  And yeah, it's a strange concept at first.  But, it works—and that's especially clear after repeated listening.  The lushness of those aforementioned instrumental elements and the orchestral strings almost make the standard seem psychedelic and deviously inviting.  You can hear this song being used ironically in or after a disturbing scene in a Stanley Kubrick movie.  

If you're a fan of Artie from his work with Paul Simon, but don't feel like digging through his uneven solo catalogue to find a gem, "I Only Have Eyes For You" is a great introduction.  Of course, his version of Jimmy Webb's majestic "All I Know" is the quintessential introduction, but that's for another post ;) . 


"I Only Have Eyes For You" As Recorded By Art Garfunkel

And why not include this song?