Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1 for 9 weeks); 1981

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

The Top 3 records of 1981 – Physical, Bette Davis Eyes, and Endless Love – were also the Top 3 for the decade. Bette Davis Eyes first saw the light of day on an album by its cocomposer, singer Jackie DeShannon, on her 1974 New Arrangement album.

According to Kim, she first heard the song about a year before she recorded it. After several days of rehearsal, she and the band laid it down live with no overdubs, and they nailed it on the second take. Carnes wasn’t initially sold on Bette Davis Eyes.

However, when keyboardist Bill Cuomo came up with some unique chord changes, she knew she had something. Interestingly, the #2 single for three weeks behind Kim, was Being With You, a song singer Smokey Robinson originally earmarked for Kim.

At the 1981 Grammies, Eyes walked off with awards for Record and Song Of The Year. It made its movie debut in John Hughes’ The Great Outdoors, starring John Candy and Dan Ackroyd.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Val Garay

Lyrics Written by:

  • Donna Weiss
  • Jackie DeShannon


  • Won Record of the Year at the 24th Grammy Awards in 1982.
  • Won Song of the Year at the 24th Grammy Awards in 1982.