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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.
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.
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. (thanks, W.C. - Los Angeles, CA)
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.
Bette Davis was an actress known for playing strong, independent women. Her movies include What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?
and All About Eve
. She was famous for her New England accent and her eyes. Check her out in the Song Images
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
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.
Carnes raspy vocals led many listeners to believe Rod Stewart was the vocalist.
The video was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who made many of the early MTV favorites. His videos were very artistic and filled with unexpected scenes. The costumed crowd smacking the floor and each other in time to the drum machine was a typical Mulcahy touch. The video was huge on MTV and gave the song a big boost.
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