Friday, April 27, 2012

Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes

"Bette Davis Eyes" is another non-rare song and video, on the blog because it is a cover, something that may surprise many of our readers.  While the last 'songs that you didn't know were covers' entry -- Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" was a huge hit, "Bette Davis Eyes" was even bigger.

Kim Carnes (sometimes thought of as the female Rod Stewart due to her blonde hair and raspy voice) had a solid, interesting career even before the success of "Bette Davis Eyes."  She started in the New Christie Minstrels, singing folk songs in the late 1960's, then went out on her own as a singer / songwriter.  She gradually became successful , and really broke out in 1980.  In that year, her duet with Kenny Rogers, "Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer" hit #4, while Carnes' cover of a Smokey Robinson & The Miracles song, "More Love" hit #10.

But her cover of Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon's "Bette Davis Eyes" became a hit on an entirely different scale.  The song was originally recorded in 1974 by Jackie DeShannon as a pop / jazz song (yes, really).   DeShannon, best known for "What the World Needs Now Is Love" and "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," knew Carnes -- they appeared together in a 1967 film, C'mon, Let's Live a Little.  However, it was Donna Weiss who pitched the song, as a fallback after Carnes passed on her newer composition.  

Carnes' version of "Bette Davis Eyes" spent 9 weeks at the top on the Billboard charts (non-consecutive, as it was interrupted for one week by the "Stars on 45 Medley.")  Billboard named in as the #1 song of 1981, and it won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year.  How's that for a hit single?

Unfortunately, Carnes was not able to follow it up with another big hit, although she did have a sting of successful singles through 1986.  As her performing career waned, she transitioned to songwriting, eventually moving to Nashville, where she lives (and writes) to this day.



And the original Jackie DeShannon version ...


(Amazing, huh?)

Note that Carnes' "Voyeur" was posted on ERV in May 2014.

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