379. ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’, by Art Garfunkel

Amazingly, and despite this being the first solo chart-topper for either Simon and/or Garfunkel, I have never heard this record before…

I Only Have Eyes for You, by Art Garfunkel (his 1st of two #1s)

2 weeks, from 19th October – 2nd November 1975

Quick question: has anyone listened to this song in the past thirty years? The big S & G hits still get airplay, as does a lot of Paul Simon’s stuff, and some of Art’s… But this? The only place this is still getting a spin is on those late-night local radio request shows, where people request sexy music for their loved ones. (Do they still exist? The one I listened to growing up was called ‘Pillow Talk’.)

And yes, ‘sexy’ is the right word for this disc. Sexy, sultry, slinky, slow, sophisticated, and any other adjective you can think of beginning with ‘s’ … Are the stars out tonight…? I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright… Art Garfunkel croons in that smooth, high-pitched way of his. I only have eyes… For you… Dear… It sounds nothing like the folky, acoustic classics he recorded in Simon & Garfunkel.

I’m picturing a fancy apartment in the Hollywood Hills, candlelight reflected in a private pool, Art flicking the fire on and slipping a bottle of champagne from the cooler, before answering the door to his date for the night… It’s an image. This is purest of pure seventies soft rock. So glossy and smooth that you can’t find anything to grab onto, and so you slide down into the sickly syrup. It is… I’ll just come out and say it… pretty dull.

Nothing about this jumps out as #1 hit material. It is last-song-on-the-album filler, to me. And it’s not as if its success can solely be explained by Garfunkel’s star name. This was the 2nd single, from his 2nd solo album, and it took a leisurely six weeks to make it to the top. But whatever the reason, there it is. Top of the pops. I’m going to proclaim this as the most-forgotten #1 since ‘Baby Jump’.

Things pick up a bit when we get to the Beach Boys sounding bridge – Art Garfunkel is one of the few singers who can make his voice sound like five people. I don’t know if we are in a garden… Or on a crowded avenue… The doo-wop feel becomes clearer when you remember that ‘I Only Have Eyes for You’ has been around since the 1930s, while the version that most people know was by The Flamingos, in 1959. The ethereal do-bub-she-bubs that make that version a classic are notably missing from Garfunkel’s version, drowned in the gloop, and that’s a shame.

It has also been recorded by names as legendary as Billie Holiday, Rod Stewart, Louis Armstrong and, um, Michael Bublé. Meanwhile at the start of this post, when I named this as the first solo #1 for either Simon or Garfunkel, I was being slightly misleading. Paul Simon has never (to date, we should add, because who knows!) topped the UK charts. Art Garfunkel will again, in a few years, with a song I have heard before! Hurray.

13 thoughts on “379. ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’, by Art Garfunkel

  1. As you say, this one is lush and romantic, appealing mostly to older music fans who knew the older versions of the classic song, but with a 70’s sheen. I love a bit of smooshy classy gentle ballads, and Art is undeniably a terrific singer. I saw both him and Paul Simon within a few months of one another in the noughties, Art was budget Pavilion trying to boost his profile and career, Paul was sell-out massive band and auditorium. Poor Art! He deserves better: his 1974 Traveling Boy single was wonderful, stretching his range and dripping with emotion (and the album it came from Angel Clare was really excellent) but solo hits he got none of – until this! Pretty his hit solo career pattern actually, covers or Wombles songwriter. Shame!

    1. It is interesting that of the two you would say Simon by far had the most successful solo career, with the huge albums and the hits everyone knows… But Garfunkel has the number one singles

  2. badfinger20 (Max)

    I’ve heard the older version more. Well crafted song but no…not for me. This is one of those New York songs to me…I’ve heard it by him but not many times…maybe on purpose! lol

      1. badfinger20 (Max)

        I don’t know why….NY came to mind. It’s too slow for me…without teeth. Even ballads can have a little bite.

  3. Art Garfunkel could sing the phone book to me. He is a strange looking cat but, he has a grand voice. I can’t listen to Bridge Over Troubled Water without being moved to tears…no matter how many times I listen to it.

    I think I probably heard this as a kid and was too young to realize that it wasn’t the Flamingos. There isn’t any prominent piano key taps or any “dee-bop-she-bops” but, I absolutely love the guitar with the wah-wah pedal on it.

    I have to say that I love both versions. Most of the time, I lean toward one version of a song. Sometimes, I get lucky and both…or three versions of a song appeal to me. That just means I get more music to enjoy.

    I am no Simon fan. He has no where near the voice Garfunkel has. He is iconic and has catchy tunes but, he really is not much of a singer. He talk-sings. I’d rather hear his wife sing.

    1. He has an amazing voice… I think this would work better if it were more stripped-back, and subtle. The production doesn’t do it any favours, and I can’t really get into it.

      I also am not much of a Simon fan… And would put ‘You Can Call Me Al’ as one of the most irritating songs of all time

  4. Pingback: 384. ‘Forever and Ever’, by Slik – The UK Number Ones Blog

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