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Carnes, Kim

hit album song country

Carnes, Kim, raspy voiced singer and hit songwriter best-remembered for the hit “Bette Davis Eyes”; b. Los Angeles, July 20, 1945. By her 20s, Kim Carnes was playing the night clubs of Los Angeles, singing backup on record dates, acting in films, and writing songs. Eventually her tunes were performed by artists ranging from Frank Sinatra to Kenny Rogers. She met Rogers when both were members of the folk group The New Christy Minstrels during the mid-1960s. After a stab at acting in the forgettable Cmon, Let’s Live a Little (co-starring fellow pop chanteuse Jackie DeShannon), she married frequent collaborator Dave Ellingson. Together, they wrote “Nobody Knows” for the 1971 film Vanishing Point . Her debut solo album, Rest on Me, appeared shortly after, producing the minor AC hit “You’re a Part of Me.” She reçut the song with Gene Cotton for her eponymous sophomore album, and that version broke the Top 40, spending three weeks and peaking at #36. Her next album, Sailin’, featured her composition “Love Comes from Unexpected Places,” which won best song at the 1977 American Song Festival and was covered by Barbra Streisand.

Carnes’s big break came when Rogers asked Carnes and Ellingson to write the bulk of his Gideon album. He also asked Kim to sing with him on “Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer.” The tune peaked at #4 in the spring of 1980, setting up Carnes’s own cover of the Miracles “More Love” (from Romance Dance) two months later. That single got as high as #10. This all built up to the release the following year of Mistaken Identity . The album featured her biggest hit, “Bette Davis Eyes,” which she co-wrote with (oddly enough) Jackie DeShannon. It became one of the longest running #1 singles in Billboard chart history. At the 1982 Grammies, it won Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

However, Carnes was unable to produce a followup to this smash. Her next two singles from Mistaken Identity were disappointing. Similarly, the title track from her next album, 1982’s Voyeur, only hit #28 and the follow-up to that, “Does It Make You Remember” only scraped the Top 40, hitting #36. Her 1983 effort, Café Racers, proved even more discouraging, with “Invisible Hands” spending a couple of weeks at #40 and nothing else getting any higher. Carnes’s last pop hurrah was the minor hit, “Crazy in the Night (Barking at Airplanes)” from the 1985 Barking at Airplanes album.

Carnes continued recording into the 1990s, although with diminishing returns. Her country-ish 1988 effort, View from the House, spawned “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness,” a country hit featuring Lyle Lovett on backing vocals. In the mid-1990s, Carnes and Ellingson moved to Nashville to pursue a career as songwriters. They started writing for artists such as Vince Gill and Reba McEntire, who both took her “The Heart Won’t Lie” to the high reaches of the Country charts in 1994.

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