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Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes




"Bette Davis Eyes" is a song written and composed by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon in 1974. It was originally recorded by DeShannon in that year for her album New Arrangement but it was made popular by American singer Kim Carnes in 1981 when it spent nine non-consecutive weeks on top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song was #1 for five weeks, interrupted for just one week by "Stars on 45" before it returned to the top spot for another four weeks and became Billboard's biggest hit of the year.


The song was written in 1974 by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon, the latter of whom recorded the song that same year on her album New Arrangement. In this original incarnation, the track is performed in an 'R&B lite' arrangement, featuring a prominent uptempo piano part, as well as flourishes of pedal steel guitar and horns.


However, it was not until March 1981, when Kim Carnes recorded her version of the song in a radically different synthesizer-based arrangement, that "Bette Davis Eyes" became a commercial success.


According to producer Val Garay, the original demo of the tune that was brought to him sounded like "a Leon Russell track, with this beer-barrel polka piano part." The demo can be heard in a Val Garay interview on TAXI TV at 21:50. Keyboardist Bill Cuomo came up with the signature synth riff, using the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer, which now defines Carnes's version. The song was recorded in the studio on the first take.


Actress Bette Davis was 73 years old when Kim Carnes's version became a hit. She wrote letters to Carnes, Weiss, and DeShannon to thank all three of them for making her "a part of modern times" and stated that her grandson now looked up to her. After their Grammy wins, Davis sent them roses as well.