posted on January 11, 2009 at 8:10 pm

as some of you may already know
the first song that truly captivated me
and set me on the path to writing words
angel eyes
my favourite and definitive version is by frank sinatra
and its on
only the lonely
a collection of torch songs
orchestrated by the incredible nelson riddle
im not even sure who wrote it
but its from the forties i’d guess
at 4 years old this song made a big impression on me
such a beautiful song it has captivated me for 50 years now
and ive been singing it recently at a sunday afternoon gig
where i’m playing with some real jazz cats again
the clincher for me to do this humble gig
was that i could sing angel eyes
the players all groaned
angel eyes is a bit of a standard in their world
a bit like asking a rocker for smoke on the water
or something
nevertheless i was determined to do it
and i did
and i thoroughly enjoyed myself…
in becoming reacquainted with this most extraordinary song
i still continue to maintain my fascination for these wonderful lyrics


this was in the days when songs had proper intros
a little way in that was totally different from the song itself
this is a perfect introduction
a setting of the scene
all;so a great line for a singer to sing in a bar or club


as sinatra sings these lines
the music turns minor and sad
talk about world weary
are the people even listening to him
is he addressing a whole room
or is he muttering this behind his eyes…?

and then the song proper starts
a downwards double bass slinks off
a real smoky bluesy niteclub atmosphere comes down
the instruments all suggest and imply things
stories of love and deceit and heartache


try to think
a strange way to start a song
who should try to think
or the crowd in the bar
or is it general advice to all of us
or what…
the song manages to be macro n micro at once
painting in broad strokes
and noticing subtle little details..
but there remains somehow
the lingering reminder of her
angel eyes
he still calls her angel eyes
but now that nickname carries a threat
a sadness
a most bitter irony
was she just there?
did she just leave?
do any of these grinning boozing types here know?
the feeling of her presence still disturbs him
thats why its uncomfortably near
you dont expect to find uncomfortable in a song
but her nearness is a pressure on him
that excited butterfly sick kick in the guts
he doesnt know how its gonna make him feel
his heart aint gaining any ground….
his old heart nonetheless
for more sympathy
for more pathos
his old broken heart
cos HIS angel eyes aint here
she aint his anymore obviously but
him still claiming that she is also carries a threat
as if he will never relinquish ownership until……


evil and jealousy walk on
the devil is an angel after all
who better to confuse mortal men
and inveigle them with gorgeous traps?
the old devil sending out his agents of misfortune
her supernaturally beautiful eyes
oh who has not seen people like that?
now the lustre is unbearable to him
another strange word…unbearable
can you imagine a beauty so strange and alien
that it was almost impossible to gaze upon?
especially when those eyes had turned cold and vacant
especially when those eyes regarded you like a stranger..
and for christs sake
he realises now
his love has been misspent
and thats another weird word in a song
like a bad purchase
or after the act of love
when a man is said to be spent
its so obvious
is there any need to even say it?

now he feels cynical about her
but he cant help wanting her even more
for all her black magical help and callous disregard
he still loves her
it feels it may have not been the first time
that shes done him wrong

the song returns to the introduction
sinatra still urging those friends and patrons
go on get drunk
have a good fucking laugh
you happy people
oblivious fools
he doesnt care anymore
do whatever you like
then the third n final verse


hes outta here
in everyway
anyone can see hes been duped
they probably already knew she wasnt gonna show
hes after the after the new number one
whos slid up thru the ranks
of the men who jostle for her favour(s)
sinatras slipping out the love charts
i wonder what he intends to do about his rival
when he catches up with them…?
anyway as one last attempt at dignity
and harking back to the black magic
the music changes key for the final line


53 Responses to “angel eyes”

  1. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 11 January 2009 at 9:56 pm #

    …there’s very few people who can talk love and desire and heartache and matters of the heart in such a gentlemanly fashion like sinatra, just think of all the other performers of his era, who sang ‘mona lisa’? that song gets me every time….ah, the ache in that voice..
    love always…..

  2. avatar
    Mr. Argent | 11 January 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    Here’s a video link for Angel Eyes:

    Thank you SK.

  3. avatar
    kat | 11 January 2009 at 10:01 pm #


    i didn't know you liked frank. (reminds me of a line in an rc mob song – frank was there, and tony bennett too.. its a really big show at the fountain bleu)

    i dunno how nice frank really was, as a person, but i think i know the song.. it is much better than smoke on the water, that's cool you sing it. now you are making me remember: the rat pack, & how my dad always enjoyed dean martin and the celebrity roasts. partiers ha

  4. avatar
    fantasticandy | 11 January 2009 at 10:05 pm #

    ‘when sinatra sings…
    ‘gainst nelson riddle strings..’

    lookin’ forward to hearing some of this stuff you ‘n yer bro are doing!

  5. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 11 January 2009 at 10:17 pm #

    Frank Sinatra had incredible mystique and swagger thereby making him the seminal rock star. He was a rugged and violent guy but he gave millions to charity and was a dog lover till the end. I do concede that he liked Jack Daniels more than anything else. Saw him in concert when he was in his late 70’s and he was still sterling and you could clearly hear every word he sang. “The Best Is Yet To Come” was the best song of that evening in Chicago.

  6. avatar
    kat | 11 January 2009 at 10:19 pm #


    bro is working on this house alot. we are trying to figure out what in the world they did with tiles and wallpaper. strange. yesterday bro had to get a battery operated amp because there is no grounding here. but we are trying to work on stuff. we got nothing to record on ;(

    thanks for newly posted dudes of neptune songs, andy. mindsnapping!

    sorry, sk, went a bit off kilter with the topic.

  7. avatar
    Thelonious | 11 January 2009 at 10:37 pm #

    Brilliant SK.

  8. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 January 2009 at 11:08 pm #

    dude thats funny…Im a big crunch fan and/but recently started playing in a jazz band, covering of course among others angel eyes…I couldnt see the link until today. now I can seamlessly integrate my paisley (the ghost of xmas past), pointies (just for style purpose), vegetalista (the ghost of xmas present) and my double bass (the anthethesis of vince noir)…



  9. avatar
    captain mission | 11 January 2009 at 11:14 pm #

    i must admit i don’t know that particular song at all however one of my fave sinatra songs is, ‘all the way.’

  10. avatar
    Freddie | 11 January 2009 at 11:14 pm #

    Thanks Mr. Argent for the link.
    I watched it after reading Steve’s commentary.
    It is indeed a powerful song,
    especially after reading this blog.
    I wish I could see you sing it Steve.

  11. avatar
    PAGEY | 11 January 2009 at 11:35 pm #


    You are a true romantic. Love to hear your version done with those jazz cats

    that bloker

  12. avatar
    Anonymous | 11 January 2009 at 11:54 pm #

    Castanets!.com ;D xo

  13. avatar
    CSTCoach | 12 January 2009 at 12:00 am #

    great stuff – love to hear you analyze a song line by line. a poetical dissection.

  14. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 12 January 2009 at 12:42 am #

    I believe I remember reading Steve’s dad was a huge Frank Sinatra fan? So am I. Sinatra always makes me feel good, whether the songs are sad or swinging. There’s just something about that Voice.

    On another note:
    Apart from Kilbey’s Painkiller, the best new music I’ve heard for quite some time is Brendan Canning’s Something For All Of Us. I urge everyone to check it out. Go to and listen to samples. It’s wonderful.

  15. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 12 January 2009 at 12:50 am #

    Favourite Sinatra song? Too many to mention. An obvious choice would be Fly Me To The Moon. A less obvious choice for me would be Drinking Again.

  16. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 January 2009 at 2:16 am #

    πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

  17. avatar
    lily was here | 12 January 2009 at 3:10 am #

    Loved frankie's voice & many of his songs so now you've made me dig out his cds. Ol' blue eyes had the mob on his side they say so pity whoever was stealing angel eyes away from him! Was he thinking of Ava still? But seriously, i played this song a few times and while it didnt strike me at first listen, it is seriously good after a few (listens that is, not bourbons). Love Dino too. I knew there was a crooner in you there. You had good ears at 4 years old. I cant recall exactly my first favourite song or what I was drawn to at that age but my folk wouldve been listening to a mix of elvis & the platters (my dads two big faves), def the beatles & rolling stones,johnny ray, the shadows, many guitarists incl a kiwi called peter posa (of The White Rabbit) …inbetween playing his own Fender. But totally of my own, i mustve loved nearly everything in the 60's. As for jazz, well I'll just say its still growing on me. Now where exactly are you playing these gigs?! I hope someone takes a decent video camera for these.

    ps it was written by Matt Dennis and Earl K. Brent

    pss i posted a couple of painkiller vids on youtube but they're not very good (under 'lilyame' if anyone's inclined). Sounds ok but visuals are all in slow-mo

  18. avatar
    MEM | 12 January 2009 at 3:33 am #

    excellent sk…

    i can almost hear
    that bitter-sweet
    voice bringing
    that song is
    to life…
    with a new poem
    part recurring
    part something
    stuff like
    that puts me
    in my place…
    yet i don’t
    question if
    i’m any good
    at it…
    writing, that
    is… that
    be pointless…
    its a struggle
    with a deeper
    honesty… and
    how honest can
    i be… is
    the question…
    up to other
    shit too…
    more from
    the bastard

  19. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 January 2009 at 4:14 am #

    Great blog Steve, now maybe you can go line by line through some fucking mel torme songs.

  20. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 January 2009 at 4:16 am #

    thommy tompsen likes fly me to the moon by frank sinatra. I can die happy with that wonderful tidbit of information. Thanks tommy ..

  21. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 January 2009 at 5:31 am #

    a deep look into the bathroom mirror will show you why these fears come to the fore.projection is very telling,;/ πŸ™ :I πŸ™‚ x

  22. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 January 2009 at 6:51 am #

    ok fantastic candy.stay on topic
    comerford .you words are hollow and empty.
    kat .youd figure out how to record if you had any passion whatsoever.
    cstcoach.think for yourself.
    mem somewhere else ok.
    ther i said it.

  23. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 January 2009 at 6:53 am #

    And oh yeah how could i forget tommy tom tom tom .who cares.
    you go to their website and listen to them
    i come here for kilbey .pretentious git.

  24. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 12 January 2009 at 8:35 am #

    It’s fine that you dislike me, anon. Who cares – I sure as hell don’t. At least I have the guts to add my name to my comments, you spineless coward. And just for your information, I love It Was A Very Good Year, too. Prententious? Not by a long shot. But I’ll bet you are. I mentioned Brendan Canning ’cause I am passionate about his recording and meant well. And yes, I primarily come here for Kilbey, too, which means I don’t come here for you, but unfortunately we all have to put up with all of you pathetic, mean-spirited anons.

  25. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 12 January 2009 at 8:47 am #

    That said, though, you’re actually quite funny, anon. Or anons. Comerford’s words are empty? YOU are empty. Just go back and read your sad, little comments. Feeling very invisible and bitter, are we? Too bad. My heart bleeds for you.

  26. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 January 2009 at 9:20 am #

    your over-reaction shows that at the sub-conscience level you know you are a wanker thommy. the point is nobody cares what you think. Maybe your uncle touched your penis as a lad and that is why you where the scarf. Either way don’t tell is the story. Who fucking cares mate?

  27. avatar
    fantasticandy | 12 January 2009 at 9:58 am #

    i think brien has a very valid point to make………
    sinatra popularized the whole sing-speak mode of expression in contempary music.
    a technique often used by my two all-time fave vocalists, kilbey & hammill.

    give 'em hell thomas!

  28. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 January 2009 at 10:14 am #

    Frank beats a 2-chord cover of a new wave song, anyway…

  29. avatar
    eek | 12 January 2009 at 10:23 am #

    This is lovely, Steve. I enjoy when you discuss songs in depth. Most people suck at it, but you have a very elegant way of describing things and a deep love of music which comes through.

    And I got a giggle picturing the other musicians rolling their eyes and sighing as you say “but I wanna sing Angel Eyes!” as you cross your arms and pull a pouty face. Ok, maybe it didn’t happen exactly that way, but it’s how I’m seeing it. πŸ™‚

  30. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 12 January 2009 at 10:38 am #

    good on ya thomas, there’s plenty of us around here that are glad to have you around (as well as the other souls mentioned in that rather uncharitable message)…keep on shining, guys….
    peace and love…

  31. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 January 2009 at 10:40 am #

    no fantastic brien does not make a point at all you made a point all he does is dribble words therefore hollow meaningless and thommmmy thom tomm i am invisible and im in your room

  32. avatar
    isolde | 12 January 2009 at 11:16 am #

    She gets too hungry, for dinner at eight
    She loves the theater, but doesn’t come late
    She’d never bother, with people she’d hate

    She loves the free, fresh wind in her hair
    Life without care
    She’s broke, but it’s o’k

    Lily it’s Sundays from 5pm in January at The Macquarie Hotel, 42 Wentworth Street Surry Hills, Tower of Song featuring Jonathan Zwartz, Matt McMahon, Hamish Stuart and Steve Kilbey

  33. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 12 January 2009 at 11:17 am #

    Yes, anon, I’m a wanker. Just wankin’ away. Or whatever.

  34. avatar
    Shirley Sally | 12 January 2009 at 11:41 am #

    When I was a girl the only decent record in our house was Sinatra Sings Cole Porter so I grew up with Night & Day, I get A Kick Out Of You, Just One Of Those Things, You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To – all fantastic – thanks for jogging my memory Steven.

  35. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 12 January 2009 at 12:04 pm #

    And no, anon, you’re not in my room, ’cause if you were, I’d be face to face with some big mouth, low self-esteem Liam Gallagher / Richard Ashcroft wanna-be, who’s only chance of becoming visible is by thrashing other people.

  36. avatar
    triantelope | 12 January 2009 at 12:26 pm #

    Don’t feed the troll!

  37. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 January 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    hey kilbey,

    when are ya gonna write more about jimbo, he was a kinda sinatra fused with the greek god of poetry.
    cheers from germany

  38. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 January 2009 at 2:11 pm #

    Good footage of Frank singing this on his tv show from the 50s. Nice touch singing ‘disappear’ off-mike as he’s walking away. The early hours torch songs are the only Sinatra I like.

  39. avatar
    matthew | 12 January 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    Cool, thanks for this Steve… I’m gonna investigate the song! My Dad had a very old Sinatra album, which he always tended to play at high volume at significant Life junctures (prolly still does!) …And I distinctly recall him calling me – a little bleary and teary – the night Sinatra passed on. I think some of the old-world crooners most definitely have a thing or 2 to exemplify to today’s music industry!

  40. avatar
    John Garratt | 12 January 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    What else was played at this Sunday gig? They make you learn any Mingus?

    John Garratt

  41. avatar
    matthew | 12 January 2009 at 2:58 pm #

    Hahaha Thomas, *very* nicely responded, last post.

  42. avatar
    catchow | 12 January 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    a very good blog!
    very interesting to know that Angel
    Eyes was the cause of your vocation
    …at the age of 4! i’m much impressed!
    besides,it’s a good and deep explanation of this song with your brilliant and personal touch;
    i like much!

    thank you Mr Argent for the link.

  43. avatar
    veleska1970 | 12 January 2009 at 3:37 pm #

    i’m not familiar with this particular song, but “fly me to the moon” is one of my faves.

  44. avatar
    veleska1970 | 12 January 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    hi, thomas thomsen!! good to see ya.

  45. avatar
    Anonymous | 12 January 2009 at 4:11 pm #

    visible thrashing .a gret new danish wankabilly band.check em out at thommy tube youll love it!

  46. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 12 January 2009 at 4:48 pm #

    “visible thrashing. a great new danish wankabilly band. check em out at thommy tube you’ll love it!”

    I’m really starting to like you, anon.

  47. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 12 January 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    Hi, Veleska. And thanks!

  48. avatar
    davem | 12 January 2009 at 6:18 pm #

    I loved Nelson Riddles work with Nat King Cole on Nature boy and many more.
    I was never a fan of Frank but I’m glad he influenced the inimitable Mr K!

  49. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 12 January 2009 at 6:55 pm #

    And thanks to you, too, Hellbound Heart.

    Anon…you want valid comments! Then why don’t you make one yourself. Write these words:

  50. avatar
    Shawn El | 12 January 2009 at 8:10 pm #

    Cool SK – maybe you can upload a recorded version of you doing this song sometime?

  51. avatar
    fantasticandy | 12 January 2009 at 8:34 pm #

    MWP has told me that there’s ‘Lots more church music coming this year.’
    a cause for celebration if ever there was one !

  52. avatar
    grow fins | 13 January 2009 at 6:27 am #

    Does anyone like me think that the version of reptile on el mom sig has a very sinatra like swing feel to it ? I can even imagine Frank singing on that version.
    Ol blue eyes out front backing band the church dressed in tuxes the forget yourself tour in all white isnt too far removed from penguin suits.

  53. avatar
    knot | 1 December 2018 at 12:05 pm #

    angel look back
    tears on my face
    your wheels within wheels
    under your spokes and rims
    I’m pinned
    In the fluorescence
    your multitude of eyes

    hold your fire
    you born in the age of marvels
    within the 13 realms your travels
    I can no longer fight you
    no more ariel battles

    teach me to forgive

    you Apple thief
    i still love you
    float in all the chambers of my heart
    within my lions body
    four faces hidden by wings

    out of essence
    the divine fall
    Heliodor screams

    as you knelt to
    pray or weep
    I saw your back uncovered

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