Sadie Hawkins Dances, The Flamingos and “I Only Have Eyes For You”

This random means of choosing songs is turning out to be anything but random as the radio station I usually tune into caters in the main for people of my generation, so a lot of ’70s/’80s material. Also these songs are likely to be the mainstream, highly commercial chart hits of the day so unlikely to come across something quirky or unusual.

Time therefore to return to the thread linking the previous posts (before I decided it had reached a natural conclusion) – Was proving to be a fine way of progressing despite the fact that a new thread often had to start on the days we found out that yet another of our rock legends had died. Crossing fingers that won’t happen for a while so back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer the television show and another song that came, this time, from a Season 2 episode. I have already talked about the show, its cult status and importance to our family in my last post won’t go there again but will encourage you to watch it, all the way through from the begining, to the final scene where Sunnydale disappears into the collapsed Hellmouth. I know – it all sounds fantastical – and it is, which is why you must watch it. A life-enhancing experience (in my opinion).

The song that featured heavily in the Buffy episode “I Only Have Eyes For You” was the song of the same name by The Flamingos. We’ll ignore the fact that the episode was set in 1955 whereas this recording was made in 1959 – Didn’t make any difference as it was a wonderful, romantic, “doo-wop” song that really captured the mood of the decade. The lyrics were also highly relevant to the storyline and the key characters in it. I Only Have Eyes For You was actually written much earlier in 1934 for a film starring a young Ruby Keeler but has been covered many times, the most familiar to me being the beautiful 1975 version by Art Garfunkel (during his clown-hair period).

I Only Have Eyes For You by The Flamingos:

This episode featured an event I had never heard of before, the forthcoming “Sadie Hawkins Dance” and how a tragic happening from that same dance in 1955 rears its ghostly head again for Buffy and her friends in 1998.

Having done a little research it seems that Sadie Hawkins Day is a folk event particular to America – An annual “holiday” that originated in Al Capp’s classic hillbilly comic strip, Li’l Abner. When the character Sadie reached the age of 35 and was still a spinster, her father called together all the unmarried men from the town and declared it “Sadie Hawkins Day”. A race was decreed, with Sadie in hot pursuit of the town’s eligible bachelors. With matrimony as the consequence of losing the race, the men of the town were running for their freedom! This inspired real-world Sadie Hawkins dances, where girls asked boys out – Simple gender role-reversal.

sadies

Anyway, back to Buffy and the “ghostly” episode. The doomed romance between a female teacher and male student in 1955 had led to a sorry end for both of them (he shot her and then committed suicide). The ghost of the student, in an effort to gain forgiveness, keeps returning to possess the bodies of various 1998 characters but every time the ending is the same. When Buffy and Angelus are possessed however, the story of their doomed romance cleverly mirrors that of the teacher and student and with the roles this time reversed, Angelus the vampire is unable to be killed and a happy conclusion is reached for the ghost of the poor student. All of this drama of course is played out to the strains of I Only Have Eyes For You.

sadie hawkins

i only.jpg

The whole theme of this episode was role-reversal but even now the idea of my younger self asking a boy out, or even to dance, fills me with horror. I am full of admiration for the girls of America who probably still have Sadie Hawkins Dances. Looking back, I don’t think I really appreciated how nerve wracking it must have been for the teenage boys of my youth to pluck up the courage to ask girls out, yet that was just how it all worked. I know on occasion I came up with pretty lame excuses for not accepting a date and sometimes it marked the end of a friendship as once the line has been crossed between friendship and potential romance, it is hard to go back.

I had always thought it was a pretty good system, as at any one point in time you had your eye on a few boys you liked, and just had to hope that one of them would ask you out. I’m sure there must a name for it – The Law of Teenage Mutual Selection or something. Looking back, it worked for the girls as they didn’t have to suffer the humiliation and rejection of being turned down but they did I suppose have to suffer the heartache of not perhaps being asked out, by the one boy they really wanted.

Roll on to your twenties, thirties and beyond and things get a whole lot more complicated but perhaps Sadie Hawkins had the answer. Dismiss dating websites, pubs, clubs and friends trying to set you up at dinner parties. Just arrange an annual race for all the single ladies who want a partner – All those eligible bachelors who want to be caught will be the tortoises and those who don’t will be the hares. Possibly as good a system as any!

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 I Only Have Eyes For You Lyrics (had to leave in the Sha bop sha bops!)
(Song by Harry Warren/Al Dubin)

My love must be a kind of blind love
I can’t see anyone but you
Sha bop sha bop
Sha bop sha bop
Sha bop sha bop
Sha bop sha bop
Sha bop sha bop

Are the stars out tonight
I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright
I only have eyes for you dear
Sha bop sha bop

The moon may be high
Sha bop sha bop
But I can’t see a thing in the sky
I only have eyes for you

I don’t know if we’re in a garden
Or on a crowded avenue
Sha bop sha bop

You are here
Sha bop sha bop
And so am I
Sha bop sha bop

Maybe millions of people go by
But they all disappear from view
And I only have eyes for you

Sha bop sha bop
Sha bop sha bop
Sha bop sha bop
Sha bop sha bop
Sha bop sha bop

Patti Page, “Changing Partners” and Old Bakelite 78s

Well, I’ve just bought myself a turntable, but a bizarre thing has happened. After first trying out my old vinyl on the new turntable, I ended up going on to enjoy the sound of the old shellac resin 78s the most. Possibly reminded me of my very first musical experiences when at around six or seven-years-old I was deemed old enough to play my mum and dad’s records on their little mono record player. One of my favourites back then was Changing Partners by Patti Page so that was the first one I listened to. This song was recorded by at least three artists in 1954 (the others I know of being Kay Starr and Bing Crosby) but this is a beautiful, slow and gentle version.

Patti Page was a big American recording artist who hailed from Tulsa, Oklahoma and had her roots in country music. She’d already had a really big hit with Tennessee Waltz and Changing Partners had definitely borrowed heavily from that earlier song (very heavily). She was also the artist responsible for How Much Is That Doggie In The Window which had appeared in the fledgling UK charts in 1953 but I’ll forgive her for that one it was after all, the decade of the novelty song.

In my last post I wrote about Crazy For You by Madonna which had really conjured up memories of my late teens and the ritual of the “last dance” of the evening. This song was from 25 years prior to that and from my parents’ ballroom-dancing days. Every generation has its “last dance” ritual and this song reflected their one, although unlike us they were dressed in beautiful gowns, evening suits and had immaculately coiffed hair. So many of my generation owe our very existence to those ballrooms – It was where many of our parents would have met, fell in love and started on the journey that would have become the rest of their lives. Simpler times in lots of ways but very, very important to choose your dance partner well I imagine – Not the time to be bowled over by good looks, a sharp suit and a brilliantined pate as many who married in haste, later “repented at leisure”.

There were so many great American lady singers during that era – Dinah Shore, Doris Day, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Patsy Cline, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, the list goes on and on. Their songs can seem old-fashioned and overly sentimental today but they were of their time and these ladies were the big stars of the day.

Something else however that they had in their favour – Not a lot of colour photography in those days and boy did they look great in pictures. Flawless skin and alluring décolletage.

Note to self – Close-up photos now to be taken in black and white. Much more forgiving!

Changing Partners Lyrics
(Song by Larry Coleman/Joe Darion)

We were waltzing together to a dreamy melody
When they called out “Change partners”
And you waltzed away from me
Now my arms feel so empty as I gaze around the floor
And I’ll keep on changing partners
Till I hold you once more

Though we danced for one moment and too soon we had to part
In that wonderful moment something happened to my heart
So I’ll keep changing partners till you’re in my arms and then
Oh, my darling I will never change partners again