Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published April 16th 2021
Eye see what you did there
I have been dragged kicking and screaming back into the world of dating. After being single for a while, some friends have decided I need a companion because they think I am becoming too isolated. And so I have filled out forms for them and they are playing gate-keepers to see if they can't find me some-one nice.
So… what does this have to do with a column of songs? Well, the first physical trait I said I looked at is eyes.
Having talked about eyes for the past week or so, it made me think – what about songs about eyes? Surely there are a few of them out there… A few?! This was one of those lists that was almost impossible to cut down to a reasonable number. There are so many great songs about eyes! So I had to give myself some rules: 1) One song per artist; 2) One version of a song only; 3) The word "eye" or "eyes" in the title; 4) No more than half from the 1980s; 5) I need to really like it; &
6) I need to own it in my collection.
After a day and a half of listening, I culled this down to 20 titles. There were some I really hated leaving out, but a list of 50 songs would annoy everyone (not least the editors here at Weekend Notes). So, here we go, in chronological order.
'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes' by The Platters (1958)
One of the first songs I remember hearing, on a 45 belonging to my father, which is now in my own collection. This song has been recorded and covered many times, but there is just something about the harmonies of The Platters that makes this version stand out head and shoulders above all others to me. It is truly beautiful.
'Pretty Little Angel Eyes' by Curtis Lee (1961)
Another 45 belonging to my father and which now sits in my collection! As a kid, I enjoyed the deep bass singer, the falsetto singer and then the actual singer filling in the middle. It sounded so different, and I still love it. In the car, I will ruin the "oooh!" section at the end and do not care. A great, forgotten song.
'The Night Has A Thousand Eyes' by Bobby Vee (1962)
One of those classics of the pre-Beatles era that many people knew at the time. Bobby Vee had a few good songs and even recorded with the Crickets after the death of Buddy Holly. And this song showcases his voice really well.
'Brown-Eyed Handsome Man' by Buddy Holly (1963)
A posthumous hit single, and a cover version of a Chuck Berry song. I prefer this version because there is just something about the frenetic way Holly delivers it. The world truly lost a great artist when Buddy Holly died in the plane crash; his potential had barely been tapped.
'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' by Frankie Valli (1967)
Sad admission – the first time I heard this song was a 1980s disco-lite version by The Boys Town Gang. Then, when the Pet Shop Boys released their version mashed up with a U2 song, I discovered who the original singer was. It took until I was in my 30s and got hold of a greatest hits CD set to find the original, and it is the best version by a mile. Those trumpet blasts make this song.
'Behind Blue Eyes' by The Who (1971)
From that classic album Who's Next, this is one of the many stand-out tracks, and one of my very favourite songs in the whole Who discography (one album to go and I have the whole thing!). The slow introduction with Roger Daltrey's glorious voice and Pete Townshend on acoustic guitar, then the rocked up section and the gentle end – it is a glorious track.
'Lyin' Eyes' by Eagles (1975)
A bit of country-rock from the most country-rock of artists of the 1970s, this track is a fine one, with the harmonies of the band members really lifting up what are relatively standard lyrics. Yes, the way this is sung and played makes it such a good track. One of the best by Eagles, just begging you to sing along.
'Ebony Eyes' by Bob Welch (1978)
After leaving Fleetwood Mac, Welch had a few good songs, but none made as much of an impact as this one. Some nice guitar playing, a chorus that rises nicely from a subdued verse – it is a fine song. Welch should have had much more success, but, for whatever reason, he seemed to not have.
'The Man With The Child In His Eyes' by Kate Bush (1978)
Kate Bush has released so many magnificent songs in her career that if she fits a topic, it is easy enough to slip her into a list. And this, one of her earliest songs, is a wonderful example of this. A sad song, but still so lovely to listen to.
'Bette Davis Eyes' by Kim Carnes (1981)
One of those surprising cover versions that people don't realise was a cover. Well, the original is a little dull, if I'm being honest, and Carnes, with her raspy voice, and the clapping effects in the percussion make this better, and a classic of the 80s that anyone who grew up in that time knows. Whether they like it or not. (I do.)
'Eye Of The Tiger' by Survivor (1982)
Come on! You knew this one was going to be here! From the film Rocky III, this is one of the great workout, pump-up, motivational tracks ever recorded. Even now I have heard twenty-odd year olds using it as part of their workout music. Timeless and great.
'Eye In The Sky' by The Alan Parsons Project (1982)
Often paired with the track 'Sirius', this title track from an Alan Parsons Project album is a weird one. I love the music and the singing, but the lyrics don't make a real lot of sense. Still, wonderful song.
'Eyes Without A Face' by Billy Idol (1983)
People often treat Billy Idol like a joke, but he had so many charting singles in the 1980s that he was almost a musical genre all his own. This, one of his slower tracks, was another one that was there, that people knew on hearing it. Actually quite a good song.
'Dancing With Tears In My Eyes' by Ultravox (1984)
Ultravox had a number of great tracks, and this is one of the better ones. A sad song about love under the threat of being blown up by an atomic bomb, and yet with some great driving instrumentation. What can I say? The 80s were weird but produced excellent music.
'We Close Our Eyes' by Go West (1985)
(One of the most 80s video clips ever!)
Go West had a few charting singles – of which this was one of the best – and then disappeared. Shame, because they were like a jauntier Tears For Fears, although with not as good lyrics (T4F had awesome lyrics). Still, this is a fun song, one I remember dancing to at a Blue Light Disco or three.
'Hungry Eyes' by Eric Carmen (1987)
From the soundtrack to the film Dirty Dancing, this was a song that was everywhere in the late 1980s. It felt like that to get a girl as a teenager back then, you had to be able to quote that film and know the words to this song (or 'She's Like The Wind'). Still, it is a good track anyway, and with the distance between then and now, I have come to appreciate it more.
'Close My Eyes Forever' by Lita Ford and Ozzy Osborne (1988)
(Pop quiz: Who had the better hair?)
Take a member of the Runaways, the band that gave us Joan Jett, and one of the kings of classic Heavy Metal, put them together… and they produce an amazing power ballad! Not a hard-rocking song, but a stunning power ballad, one which I bought on 45. This song is better than it probably had any right to be. Beautiful.
'Bedroom Eyes' by Kate Ceberano (1989)
Released by Mushroom Records, this was from Brave, an album that pleasantly surprised me. And this track was one of those that stands out on the album. A sexy song without being pornographic (take note, songwriters of today!), this is great.
'Angel Eyes' by Jeff Healey Band (1989)
Blind guitarist Jeff Healey released a number of magnificent tracks through the 80s and 90s before his untimely death in 2008. This is one of his slower ones, a blues-rock track that is just stunning. I had not listened to this track for years; it is still really good.
Yes, I have spoken about this track before. As I described it in that review, it is an a capella piece, the only music coming from a single keyboard sustained note near the end. This is a perfect example of three voices coming into perfect harmony together. And what better way to finish this column.
So… 20 songs about eyes. Yes, I know so many were left out, so please feel free to add your own favourites in the comments section below (Abba, Sheena Easton, Journey, Green Day all missed out). No matter what, it certainly seems I am not the only one who looks at the eyes of a person.