Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Bette Davis Eyes

Co-written and first recorded Jackie DeShannon (1974).
Hit version by Kim Carnes (US #1/MOR #15/UK #10 1981).

From the wiki: “‘Bette Davis Eyes’ is a classic hit song written by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon, and made popular by American singer-songwriter Kim Carnes. It spent nine weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was Billboard’s biggest hit of the entire year for 1981. The recording won the 1982 Grammy Awards for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

“There is much confusion over whether the lyrics are ‘she knows just what it takes to make a crow blush’ or ‘… pro blush’. Jackie DeShannon sings ‘crow’ in her version, and Kim Carnes recorded it as ‘pro’ from a mistranscription of the lyrics. The phrase ‘could make a crow blush’ is an early 20th-century Midwestern United States colloquialism meaning ‘one could unease someone with little effort’; the arranger for Carnes’ version was unfamiliar with the term.

“Bette Davis admitted to being a fan of the song, and once approached Carnes and the songwriters to thank them for making her ‘a part of modern times.'”

Kim Carnes, “Bette Davis Eyes” (1981):

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