Private Eyes / Daryl Hall & John Oates

I wasn’t going PrivateEyesDHJOto pick another 80s song for tonight’s post, but I ended up hearing a version of this song (more about that later) on the way back from running errands tonight. It sounded so good I knew it had to be today’s song.

My biggest association with Hall & Oates is my mom. Back in the day, she was a huge Hall & Oates fan. My mom influenced so much of my musical taste, it’s not even funny, so it’s not surprising that I liked them a lot too. And what was not to like? They had a great chart run in the early to mid-80s thanks in large part to some absolutely killer hooks.  Hall & Oates wrote some of the purest pop music of the day. I don’t really think of them as album artists, although we did have the H2O album when I was growing up, with Daryl & John looking at each other while they apparently were sweating to death. Come to think of it, we also had the Voices album which I remember, apropos of nothing, buying at Safeway when it was going out of business.

But let’s be honest – “Private Eyes” is one of their best songs if for no other reason than the HANDCLAPS.  Just like a song is instantly better if it has spelling, the presence of handclaps always gets my attention. Despite being high quality pop, I frequently forget about “Private Eyes”, it seems to be kind of a second banana to songs like “Kiss On My List” and “You Make My Dreams.”  It also had a great music video with Hall in a very green suit.  They don’t make ’em like this any longer.

But what made me think of “Private Eyes” is the version with Mayer Hawthorne performed on Live From Daryl’s House.  Mayer Hawthorne is one of my favorite artists right now and he shows up all over the place. He didn’t even have a new album come out this year, but as I collate my year-end best of list, I still have several songs of his that could potentially make the cut. There’s something adorably douchey about Mayer – and I mean that with humility and love. He gets away with shit that I would normally roll my eyes at, just because he’s so damn talented. He also has the best falsetto in the business these days. I saw him in concert back in February and he did falsetto through so much of the night I can’t believe his voice isn’t shredded.  He did several Hall & Oates songs when he appeared on Live From Daryl’s House – including “You Make My Dreams” and “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” – but I think “Private Eyes” is my favorite of the ones he did. Wearing red framed sunglasses, he makes the song his own.  I really think he should record an EP of Hall & Oates covers.  And Daryl Hall, who is now 68, if you can believe it, shows that just because you get old doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun.

I made a shitty YouTube rip mp3 of this performance, and you can thank that for being the reason why you all read about “Private Eyes” tonight.

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