To my ears, the late 1950s’, early 1960’s were the golden age of slow dancers/love songs. Written for the movie Dames in 1934, the sultry Peggy Lee covered ‘I only have eyes for you’ in 1950. Surely one of the earliest music videos, it is among the treasures of youtube, Peggy is accompanied by a beautiful Gibson archtop and the sort of stand-up bass that propelled her 1958 hit Fever. Yet considering the miracle she performed with Fever, in my view she didn’t quite plumb the depths that this song has to offer.
For me the 1959 Flamingos cover remains one of the finest slow dance songs of all time. The soaring do-wop harmonies, triplets on piano, strong reverb, clear as a mountain stream, and a descending bass figure hearken to an era of musical craftsmanship long past. I imagine a 1959 high school dance with the guys in suit coats and inch-wide ties; the girls in billowing satin dresses.
But why take my word for it. Here are both covers.