I Only Have Eyes for You

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"I Only Have Eyes for You"
Published1934 by Remick Music Corp.
Composer(s)Harry Warren
Lyricist(s)Al Dubin

"I Only Have Eyes for You" is a romantic love song by composer Harry Warren and lyricist Al Dubin, written for the film Dames (1934) when Dick Powell introduced it.[1] Several successful recordings of the song were made in 1934; later, there were charted versions by the Flamingos (1959) and Art Garfunkel (1975).

Charting versions[edit]

Popular 1934 versions[edit]

Ben Selvin (vocal by Howard Phillips), Eddy Duchin (vocal by Lew Sherwood), and Jane Froman.[2]

The Flamingos version[edit]

"I Only Have Eyes for You"
Single by the Flamingos
from the album Flamingo Serenade
ReleasedMay 1959[3]
StudioBell Sound (New York City)
Songwriter(s)Harry Warren, Al Dubin
Producer(s)George Goldner
The Flamingos singles chronology
"Love Walked In"
"I Only Have Eyes for You"

The Flamingos recorded a doo-wop adaptation of "I Only Have Eyes for You" at Bell Sound Studios in New York City in 1959.[4][7] Their version was commercially successful, peaking at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart[8] and number 3 on the Billboard Hot R&B chart.[9]

Building on the surprise success of the Flamingos single "Lovers Never Say Goodbye" which had crossed over the Black R&B chart[7] to hit number 52 on the White pop chart in February 1959,[10] the song "I Only Have Eyes for You" was selected by producer George Goldner as part of 33 classic pop standards that the Flamingos might try out and interpret for their next album, Flamingo Serenade, with marketing to be aimed at the larger pop audience. The Flamingos recorded a dozen of the standards, but had the most trouble with "I Only Have Eyes for You", which was not coming together. Flamingos high tenor Terry "Buzzy" Johnson, who was also the group's arranger, was advised by lead tenor Nate Nelson to do something exotic with the refrain: "Go way out on it! Make it Russian, like 'Song of the Volga Boatman'". The solution came to Johnson while he was sleeping, and he quickly called the group to his room at around 4 am to have them rehearse the new version, complete with "doo‑bop sh‑bop" backing vocals and harmonies. Later in the studio, Johnson directed the session musicians to play piano, guitar and gentle brush-driven drums in a stretched-out triplet rhythm, with extra sustain on the third of the chord in the guitar and the fifth in the piano. This created a floating counter-melody to the vocal harmonies. Johnson said that heavy reverberation was added to the vocals at the mastering stage, under the direction of Goldner.[7]

Goldner initially thought the song was not commercial enough to be a single, and so he sequenced it first on Side 2 of the album Flamingo Serenade. Radio deejays started playing the song,[7] and it was released as a single in early May 1959.[3] It first entered the Billboard pop chart on May 30 at number 60,[11] then peaked at number 11 in July.

The Flamingos' reinvention of the song has become recognized as a genre-defining work and has been included in numerous lists; it was ranked as the 73rd biggest hit of 1959 by Billboard,[12] while Rolling Stone magazine placed it at number 158 on their list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[13] In 2003, this recording by the Flamingos on End Records was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[14] In 2009, Johnson said the song was still making money for him, even more than when the Flamingos were performing.[7]

Cliff Richard version[edit]

A 1964 recording by Cliff Richard and the Norrie Paramor Orchestra peaked at number 31 on the Australian chart.[15]

The Lettermen version[edit]

A 1966 recording by the Lettermen went to number 4 on the US Easy Listening chart and number 72 on Hot 100.[16]

Jerry Butler version[edit]

In 1972, Jerry Butler's version on Mercury records spent eight weeks on the Billboard R&B chart, reaching a positional high of number 20. It also charted in the Billboard Hot 100, reaching number 85.[17]

Art Garfunkel version[edit]

"I Only Have Eyes for You"
Single by Art Garfunkel
from the album Breakaway
B-side"Looking for the Right One"
ReleasedAugust 1975
GenreSoft rock
Songwriter(s)Harry Warren, Al Dubin
Producer(s)Richard Perry
Art Garfunkel singles chronology
"Second Avenue"
"I Only Have Eyes for You"
"Break Away"

A recording of the song by Art Garfunkel was a number-one hit on the UK Singles Chart in October 1975 for two weeks.[18] In the US, the song reached number 18 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100[19] and No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.[20] Garfunkel performed "I Only Have Eyes for You" on the second episode of Saturday Night Live.[21]



  1. ^ "Internet Movie Database". imdb.com. Retrieved November 14, 2020.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 517. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  3. ^ a b "Advertisement: "I Only Have Eyes For You"". Billboard. Vol. 71, no. 18. May 4, 1959. p. 59. ISSN 0006-2510.
  4. ^ a b Zellner, Xander (January 16, 2018). "The Flamingos' 'I Only Have Eyes for You' Rules THR's Top TV Songs". Billboard. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  5. ^ Himes, Geoffrey (March 14, 2001). "Flamingos, Doo-wop Royalty, to Roost in Hal of Fame". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 16, 2021.
  6. ^ Rock and Roll at Fifty (Liner notes). May 25, 2004. ASIN B00023BJGY.
  7. ^ a b c d e Buskin, Richard (March 2009). "Classic Tracks: The Flamingos 'I Only Have Eyes For You'". Sound on Sound. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  8. ^ "Music: Top 100 - Billboard Hot 100 Chart", Billboard, 2 January 2013
  9. ^ "R&B/Hip Hop Songs - Billboard", Billboard, 2 January 2013
  10. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 – Week of February 14, 1959". Billboard. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  11. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 – Week of May 30, 1959". Billboard. Retrieved December 30, 2023.
  12. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1959/Top 100 Songs of 1959". Music Outfitters.
  13. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. April 7, 2011. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  14. ^ "Grammy Hall of Fame Award". Grammy Awards. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
  15. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book 1940–1969. Australian Chart Book Pty Ltd, Turramurra, N.S.W. Record Research Inc, ISBN 0-646-44439-5.
  16. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 144.
  17. ^ R&B / Hip-Hop Singles 1942-2004, compiled by Joel Whitburn, Billboard Information Group, Record Research Inc., Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. (2004), ISBN 0-89820-160-8
  18. ^ "i+only+have+eyes+for+you | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  19. ^ "Music: Top 100 - Billboard Hot 100 Chart", Billboard, 2 January 2013
  20. ^ "Adult Contemporary Chart - Billboard", Billboard, 2 January 2013
  21. ^ O'Connor, John J. (October 20, 1975). "TV: Simon and Garfunkel Reunion on NBC's 'Saturday Night'". The New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2018.


  • The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition, 1996