My Top 1000 Songs #201: One Long Pair Of Eyes

Between Robyn Hitchcock's long solo career (both on his own and with the Egyptians and various other configurations) and his earlier work with The Soft Boys, I could easily come up with a few dozen tracks appropriate for inclusion here. But "One Long Pair Of Eyes," off 1989's excellent and underrated Queen Elvis--for some reason one of the few records of his that doesn't stream--is a personal favorite. It's less immediate than some of his more obvious alt.pop tracks, but it's always haunted me. A lot of that lies with the production: it's got a warm, pin-drop clarity that suits the slow-building and delicate nuance of the music. And ooh, that music--some attention-grabbing bass harkening back to Joni Mitchell's mid-70s jazz-flavored era, and the repeated piano triplets, give it a richly-layered baroque pop sound that reaches out with a soothing embrace.

As with much of his work, there's an inscrutable lyrical absurdity--"She had one long pair of eyes between her" goes the chorus--yet here it achieves Dylan-like significance, a gorgeous poem begging personal interpretation, given a standout, passionate vocal performance by Hitchcock.

Live acoustic performance from 1988:
Could only find this brief snippet, but here's part of a recent performance with partner Emma Swift: