1975 was a long year but I’m getting through it as fast as I can. Continuing the Art for Art’s Sake series; still on Breakaway …
In which Art balances the disaffectedness of “My Little Town” with a Fifties-style slow dance that says:
Don’t take that Simon fella too seriously. The family could be a drag but growing up suited me just fine. Here’s one we used to dance to. Seemed like we could stay under its spell for hours.
Of course, “I Only Have Eyes For You” isn’t just a Fifties song; it’s a standard going back to the Thirties, and perhaps by performing it, Art is staking a further claim to his spot in the Great Hall of American Croonerhood.
Whatever his reason for performing the song, it works well enough.
Rather than strip it down, Art opts for a Seventies take on the Flamingos’ shimmering ambience, with heavily reverberant Fender Rhodes, a carefully deployed string section and some phased guitar. And of course, Art delivers it with charm and grace, ’cause that’s what he does.
If you happened to be 14 years old and on a high-school dance floor in 1975, you could probably get lost in it OK.
It’s possible the song made more negative impressions in other settings.
The record hit Number One in the U.K. in October 1975, as the punk movement was beginning to percolate. Nostalgic and well-groomed, this is precisely the kind of record, or one of the kinds of records, the punks would have loathed. The Sex Pistols played their first gig the week this song fell from Number One, and it’s easy to imagine them sitting together in some filthy London squat, spitting insults at the radio while the record played.
(American buyers were better-behaved, sending “I Only Have Eyes For You” to Number One adult contemporary and No. 18 pop.)
Anyway: You know the song; you know how it goes; you might even remember this version; it does what it sets out to do.