Monday, December 1, 2014


With sunny California girl looks but a singing voice like sandpaper, Kim Carnes didn't come across how you would expect. Her music career didn't travel down an obvious path either. Carnes first became noticed as a songwriter and wrote music in all genres that brought her great acclaim. When she achieved fame as a singer, it was with an unusual, new-wave sounding song about a deceptive woman with eyes like a movie star.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kim Carnes wrote songs and performed locally as a teen before eventually deciding to get in to music professionally. In the early 1970's, Carnes, along with her musician husband, Dave Ellingson, got her first break with teen heartthrob, David Cassidy, star of the hit television show, "The Partridge Family". In addition to writing songs for his albums, Carnes and Ellingson opened for Cassidy during his world tour. This exposure lead to Carnes getting her own record deal and releasing her debut album, "Rest On Me" in 1972.

Although Carnes didn't have much initial success as a recording artist, her work as a songwriter continued to open doors for the fledgling musician. Some of her compositions won a few prizes which lead to them being recorded by none other than Barbra Streisand. "Love Comes from Unexpected Places" was on "Streisand Superman" in 1977 and "Stay Away" appeared on "Songbird" the following year. In 1980, country music star, Kenny Rogers had Carnes and Ellingson write a concept record for him. That album, "Gideon" featured "Don't Fall In Love With a Dreamer", a duet with Kim, that reached the top ten on the pop and country charts. Also that year, Carnes released a remake of the Smokey Robinson and The Miracles classic, "More Love" from her album, "Romance Dance". This became her first solo top ten pop hit.

For her next album, "Mistaken Identity", Carnes's first single was a cover of an obscure song co-written by 60's pop singer, Jackie DeShannon ("What The World Needs Now"). "Bette Davis Eyes" became a massive smash, spending nine weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song went on to win two Grammy Awards for Song of The Year and Record of The Year and became the biggest single of 1981.

Kim Carnes never reached these heights again but continued to make music with varied success. She released her last studio album, "Chasin' Wild Trains" in 2004. Carnes is still married to Dave Ellingson and have been together for forty-seven years. They have two sons, Collin and Ry who have followed in the family business as musicians.

These are two of my favorite tunes from Kim Carnes:

"Don't Fall In Love With a Dreamer" Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes (1980)

"More Love" - Kim Carnes (1980)

As a bonus, here is the very 1980's music video for "Bette Davis Eyes". This eerie clip is notable for being directed by future filmmaker, Russell Mulcahy, best known for "Highlander" and currently directing episodes of the MTV series, "Teen Wolf":


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