Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes

THIS DAY IN MUSIC…………………………………on May 16th of 1981 “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes rocketed to the top spot on Billboard’s singles chart, where it would remain for nine weeks. This was originally recorded in a 1920s Jazz style by Jackie DeShannon on her 1975 album, New Arrangement. DeShannon wrote the song with the songwriter Donna Weiss. According to DeShannon, she got the idea for the song after watching the 1942 Bette Davis movie Now Voyager. It was Donna Weiss who submitted the demo to Carnes, who along with her band and producer Val Garay, came up with the hit arrangement for the song. The producer of this song had an assistant go out and buy the cheapest (and cheapest-sounding) drum set for this particular song. Combined with the sound of an early synthesizer called a Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, they found the sound they were looking for and the song was a hit. Carnes credits her keyboard player Bill Cuomo making significant contributions to the chord changes and arrangement. Carnes had several other hits before and after this, but none even close to this big. She was a member of The New Christy Minstrels before recording as a solo artist. After this song became a hit single, Bette Davis wrote letters to Kim Carnes and the songwriters to say she was a fan of the song and thank them for making her “a part of modern history.” One of the reasons the legendary actress loved the song is that her granddaughter thought her grandmother was “cool” for having a hit song written about her. This was a huge hit in the US, where it was #1 for nine weeks. It was not, however, the year’s biggest hit. “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John was #1 for ten weeks. This won the 1981 Grammy for Record of the Year, and in America, it was the third-best-selling single of the ’80s, after Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” and the Diana Ross/Lionel Richie duet “Endless Love.” The song reached #10 in the UK.