This edition of our Anatomy of a Song feature showcases a classic that’s a little unusual. Like many of the old standards, it was written for a movie way back in the golden days of Hollywood musicals, but in this case it also became a hit record decades later for a doo-wop singing group.
Written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin for the 1934 film Dames, “I Only Have Eyes For You” was introduced by Dick Powell when he sang it to Ruby Keeler, but the song made other appearances in the movie. It often played in the background, and it made another big splash in a Busby Berkeley chorus number.
In the years to follow “I Only Have Eyes For You” would be performed by a wide range of singers in an amazing number of movies, including Gene Raymond in The Woman In Red, Gordon MacRae in Tea For Two, and Dean Martin in Money From Home. As time passed it also became a part of just about every singer’s songbook and many jazz musicians also covered the song with great success, turning it into a standard.
The song’s numerous movie moments continued in later years too, with it showing up in American Graffiti, The Right Stuff, and a host of others, along with TV shows and even commercials — but it was often the Flamingos’ modern version by then. The group’s best-selling 1959 hit also inspired a later highly-charted record by Art Garfunkel, but the song lives on as both a modern and a classic standard.