My Eyes Adored You by Frankie Valli (Private Stock, 1975)

Kenny Nolan was a struggling songwriter for many years. He fortunes changed dramatically when he hooked up with producer Bob Crewe in 1973. Crewe was most famous for producing and co-writing hits for the Four Seasons. So naturally, when the two got together they pitched a song to the Four Seasons to help them get back on the charts. The group recorded it but their label, MoWest rejected it and sent them packing, but not before they sold the song back to Frankie Valli, who knew he had a smash on his hands. Believe it or not, the guys behind Sherry, Rag Doll, Candy Girl and other huge 60s hits were rejected by tons of labels. Until one day Frankie found the small start-up label, Private Stock Records was willing to take a chance and release it. The only catch was that they wanted Frankie to release it as a solo single.

Frankie relented and put it out and in March of 1975, he had his first #1 solo single. The sound of Frankie’s voice on the radio prompted the Four Seasons to reform and record a new album and all of a sudden, Frankie was juggling two careers. Things got crazy for Nolan too, who had his Get Dancing by Disco Tex hit the Top 10 in February of 1975, and then had My Eyes Adored You replaced at #1 by another Crewe/Nolan composition, Lady Marmalade. A hot 1975 for all!

The song is a very touching ballad sung in retrospect by a guy who remembers a crush he had on a girl in the 5th grade, the girl he left behind to head for the city lights. But I always have to laugh at the opening couplet:

My eyes adored you
Though I never laid my hands on you

Sounds like the guy is giving a confessional on Law & Order. Dude, you were in the 6th grade. What were you expecting to have happen? Is this a statement or a warning?

Another one of my favorite lines is:

Walking home every day
Over Barnegat Bridge and Bay

First of all, until I sang karaoke I know no idea what the line was. Second, that line is incredibly awkward, but Frankie handles it smoothly. Third and most important, where the hell did these kids live? They had to cross a 1200 ft long bridge to an isolated peninsula on their way home, every day? And he was carrying her books too. No wonder only his eyes adored her. He was probably too tired to do anything else anyway.

One additional fact about Frankie Valli. He suffered from otosclerosis, which is an abnormal growth of a bone in the inner ear, which leads to hearing loss. He was nearly deaf by the mid-70s until surgery helped him regain his hearing. Up until this song he was singing from memory. This may have been one of his recordings where he could actually hear the music he was singing along with.

December 1963 (Oh, What A Night) by the Four Seasons (Warner/Curb, 1976)

By the time the Four Seasons moved from the late 60s to the early 70s, the hit machine had completely dried up or in ‘season’ talk, it was Winter. The presence on radio wasn’t needed anymore and they were relegated to playing Vegas to keep going. Then Berry Gordy started a new subsidiary label called MoWest and had the Seasons release an album to no applause. They were still in Winter, but it Spring was right around the corner.

Frankie Valli would finally hit #1 on his own in early 1975 with My Eyes Adored You. That opened the doors for a Four Seasons reunion and they introduced 4 new members of the group with Frankie still sharing lead vocal with Gerry Polci.(We’ll call this the Spring phase, cause new things were blooming) Bob Gaudio was now producing and writing songs such as the title track to their new album, Who Loves You. They took it to #3 in late 1975 and Summer was right around the corner. The 2nd single from the album, December 1963, went all the way to #1 in March of 1976 and stayed there for 3 weeks. Call it doo-wop nostalgia, band persistence or luck & timing (I say, a mix of all 3), but the Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons were back on top in the mid 70s. [A very interesting stat: The Four Seasons are the only artists to have a #1 song before, during and after the Beatles 1964-1970 chart domination.]

And so the seasons cycle turned until it was Winter once more through the 80s. Then in 1994, a remixed version of December 1963 hit #14. And Summer returned once more.

Of course, the fact that a band popular in the early 60s sang a sang about those days and a hit in the mid-70s during the 50s/pre-Beatles 60s nostalgia boom shouldn’t really come as a surprise. I reread the lyrics to see what those guys were really singing about. They didn’t have any during that month and weren’t even on the Hot 100, so I ruled that out. The obvious answer was falling in love with a lady or maybe just a one night stand. Maybe the guy lost his virginity. I’ve heard the rumours about the song being a paean to the first time one does drugs, specifically cocaine. Think about it…the funny feeling, the rolling bolt of thunder, taking his body under…what a lady!

I always found it odd that they chose that month & year. The country was reeling from Kennedy’s assassination in late November, trying to make sense of the collapse of Camelot, not knowing that Beatlemania would start almost immediately in January 1964. Can’t imagine that as the most fun month for many Americans. Unless of course you were snorting coke while popping your cherry. Does it change anything that the lyrics were written by Bob Gaudio’s wife, Judy? If you’ve seen Jersey Boys, let me know the answer.

An aside: I loved the way they held the bass out in the beginning and then dropped it in during the middle of the verse.