April 18, 2015

#71: Sinatra sings a doo-wop classic

"I Only Have Eyes For You," the second song by Al Dubin and Harry Warren to show up my list, was written for the 1934 film musical Dames. Until I heard Sinatra's version, the only one I knew was the Flamingos' classic from 1959. Though Frank and company's recording was made only three years after that big hit, there's no trace of doo-wop in the Basie version, unless perhaps those paired opening notes are arranger Neal Hefti's tribute to the Flamingos' "sha-bop sha-bops":



Hefti's smokin' arrangement has pretty much erased the sha-bop sha-bops from my inner soundtrack and (apologies to doo-wop fans) that's all right with me, though I do like that beautifully sung verse the Flamingos open with. As you can see from Dick Powell's film rendition, the Flamingos chose to abbreviate the verse, to dramatic effect. Sinatra skipped the verse altogether not only with the Basie band but even in his straight ballad version from 1945. Yes, he recorded it twice, which makes the doo-wop classic the unlikely filling in a Sinatra sandwich.

Frank sings it live here. Enjoy.

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