Evolution of a song: a witty number from a minor musical becomes, in the hands of The Flamingos, one of the greatest singles of all time – romantic, courtly, enchanting, and most of all awestruck by love. They took the well-turned smooshiness of the lyrics and made them live. It’s their magical version that turned up in American Graffiti (and later Buffy) – but it isn’t their version that got to #1 here (in fact it wasn’t a hit here at all).
The spectral presence of the Flamingos shouldn’t prejudice me against Art’s version, but it does, a little, because Garfunkel takes their reading and pushes it slightly too far. The production, swaddling the song in soft seventies cottonwool, brings the sentiment to life – Art only has eyes for you because nothing else is getting through this big fuzzy oven glove of sound. It’s like a cuddlier “I’m Not In Love” – he is in love, or so he tells us at least: it’s hard to get much of a feeling for this “you” in amongst all the plushness.
That’s not to say I dislike it – it’s a hard song to screw up, and Garfunkel obviously adores it as much as anyone does. His voice is, as usual, deceptively drippy, softly-spoken but always firmly in charge of things, even when those ridiculous (but kind of gorgeous) backing cherubim come in. I also really like the sanctified bedroom vibe of 70s ‘quiet storm’ style production, which this reminds me of – but ultimately it sacrifices the crisp shock of love that the Flamingos captured so well, and can’t quite get out from under of their shadow.