Song of the Day #4,583: ‘Renaissance Eyes’ – Don Dixon

Frequent commenter Dana named Don Dixon’s ‘Renaissance Eyes’ as one of his favorite songs. This one is new to me, as is the idea of Don Dixon as a recording artist.

I know Dixon best as the producer of R.E.M.’s first two albums, Murmur and Reckoning, as well as The Smithereens’ debut album, Especially For You. In the mid-80s, Dixon was the go-to producer for alternative acts pioneering the jangle pop sound.

My first search for ‘Renaissance Eyes’ turned up a cover version by Hootie & the Blowfish, an act that started in 1986 among the same southern alt rock scene that spawned R.E.M., even though their breakthrough debut album wasn’t released until 1994.

I found Dixon’s version on YouTube, as his early albums are unavailable on Amazon Music. This track appeared on his debut, Most of the Girls Like to Dance but Only Some of the Boys Like To, an album of demos.

It’s a lovely, quiet song that reminds me a bit of early demo tracks by Elvis Costello.

Are you alone, Renaissance Eyes?
I had my whole family stolen from me, Renaissance Eyes
Is that your hair, Renaissance Eyes?
Have you ever taken dancing lessons, Renaissance Eyes?
Dress you in a fashion, undress you with a passion
Though the vision haunts you
I’m the one who wants you to love me with those eyes
Love me with those eyes

Is that you car, Renaissance Eyes?
I once had a car but it was stolen, Renaissance Eyes
Tell me your name, Renaissance Eyes
Do you ever think about the future, Renaissance Eyes?
Dress you in a fashion, undress you with a passion
Though the vision haunts you
I’m the one who wants you to love me with those eyes
Love me with those eyes
Love me with those eyes

Do you see me, Renaissance Eyes?
I would steal a Cadillac to touch you, Renaissance Eyes
Are you afraid, Renaissance Eyes?
I am too afraid to ever meet you, Renaissance Eyes
Dress you in a fashion, undress you with a passion
Though the vision haunts you
I’m the one who wants you to love me with those eyes
Love me, love me with those eyes
Love me with those eyes
Love me with those eyes

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,583: ‘Renaissance Eyes’ – Don Dixon

  1. Amy says:

    The title track on this album is so much fun, as is another song, “Praying Mantis,” that I remember Dana loving. I’m sad to hear his music isn’t widely available. We must have added it to our Apple collection early on by downloading our CD’s. Ah, technology. I don’t know Dixon other than through Dana’s affection for this album, and I’ve forgotten the origin of how he discovered him (though maybe when he worked at the record store?), so I’ll be eager to read his comment today.

  2. Dana Gallup says:

    I discovered Don Dixon in college, though I can’t recall exactly how. I knew he had been REM’s producer and he had a minor alt hit with “Praying Mantis” from “Most of the Girls….” I’m fairly sure I picked up the album as a rental for $1 or perhaps I had found the album used or as a cut out. Regardless, I really got into the album, including the single, the title track and, most of all, “Renaissance Eyes.” The raw simplicity and emotion, along with the lovely piano, drew me in from the start. I’m sure Daniel will be interested in hearing Hootie’s cover version.

    More recently, I shared Dixon with the kids (it probably is in our iTunes music collection, Apple Music or both), and Daniel often adds the song “.Girls L.T.D.” to the rotation when he serves as our car DJ on long trips. Here is that more funky song for your listening pleasure:

    And, since I mentioned it, here is “Praying Mantis:”

  3. Maddie says:

    “Praying Mantis” is a bop and half. Also loving the Hootie cover of “Renaissance Eyes.”

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