"Bette Davis Eyes" as written by Donna Weiss and Jackie De Shannon....
Her hair is Harlow gold, her lips sweet surprise
Her hands are never cold, she's got Bette Davis eyes

She'll turn the music on you, you won't have to think twice
She's pure as New York snow, she got Bette Davis eyes

And she'll tease you, she'll unease you
All the better just to please you
She's precocious, and she knows just
What it takes to make a pro blush
She got Greta Garbo's standoff sighs, she's got Bette Davis eyes

She'll let you take her home, it works her appetite
She'll lay you on the throne, she got Bette Davis eyes

She'll take a tumble on you, roll you like you were dice
Until you come out blue, she's got Bette Davis eyes

She'll expose you, when she snows you
Hope you're pleased with the crumbs she throws you
She's ferocious and she knows just
What it takes to make a pro blush
All the boys think she's a spy, she's got Bette Davis eyes

And she'll tease you, she'll unease you
All the better just to please you
She's precocious, and she knows just
What it takes to make a pro blush
All the boys think she's a spy, she's got Bette Davis eyes


Lyrics submitted by numb

"Bette Davis Eyes" as written by Donna Weiss, Jackie De Shannon

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Bette Davis Eyes song meanings
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31 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentThe song is a description of a young femme fatale, plain and simple. She's an enticing, promiscuous woman who makes prospective partners work for it, but has all the charms it takes to make them put that effort in. Still she moves on once she's made her conquest. It would be over-stating it to call her "evil" though. All the song says she does to the men she entices is make them sad she doesn't stay.

    It might be significant that Harlow gold sounds almost like "hollow gold". Maybe not though. Harlow played a lot of femme's fatale. I don't think the song is about Marilyn Monroe rather than an imaginary woman. Monroe's on-screen presence wasn't mysterious and film noiresque and the woman in this song has nothing of the woman-child about her.
    Letmeinon April 27, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis is one of my favorite songs. I get a bitter sweet feeling everytime I listen to it. I think it's about a person that always plays tricks on the other one. Like some kind of game. Maybe it's a woman singing about the woman that plays tricks on him all the time and she's saying that "you'll never get anything from her so why don't you take me instead?" Or what do you think?
    cammenon March 19, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song is amazing, definately one of my favorites
    Richie45069on August 23, 2008   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningThis is also one of my favorites. To keep it short, it was written in dedication to Bette Davis and the latter stated she was truly flattered by the song and was grateful to Carnes for the tribute (or so I've read).

    It captures the essence of an angel-faced temptress who appears "pure as NY snow" and lures men in with her wit and charm, but as they are drinking into her passion, she is studying them closely and exposing their weaknesses...Eventually, just when they are transfixed into her seductive games, she uses these weaknesses against them, "rolls them like dice", and when she gets what she wants from them...leaves them hoping they are pleased with the crumbs of her affection; a take-no-prisoner seductress.
    elusive12on December 10, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWhile many people want to see a hidden drug meaning in the song, it's not there and a far stretch. It is about a calculating woman who uses sex as a weapon. And the song was not written by two men as a couple commenters said, it was written in 1974 by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon, both females, and originally recorded as a light jazz song by DeShannon on her 1975 album.

    It is an homage to the femme fatale.

    "She's precocious": As in outrageously brash and often used to describe a female sexually back in the day. Sexually precocious meant experienced and promiscuous.

    "Tease you, unease, all the better just to please you.": To get want she wants.

    "Make a pro blush": In the 70s and 80s calling a woman a Pro implied she was a sexual pro, meaning professional, as in the wold's oldest profession. Carnes is basically saying "She could make a hooker blush." Interesting fact, DeShannon's original lyric was "make a crow blush" which was a dated backwoods expression. It basically meant the same thing but without the sexual connotation. Carnes changed it in her recording.

    "Pure as New York snow" has nothing to do with cocaine or meth. It is irony. New York snow, unlike in the country, is trampled on until it becomes sludge. Meaning, she is not pure at all.
    Endymion2013on December 09, 2013   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningA perfect example of the type of woman this song is about is Mata Hari. Look her up. From Wikipedia: The idea of an exotic dancer working as a lethal double agent using her powers of seduction to extract military secrets from her many lovers made Mata Hari an enduring archetype of the femme fatale.

    She'll expose you [your secrets and weaknesses],

    when she snows you [snow doesn't mean cocaine here. In modern slang it means when she plays you, fools you with her charm]

    Off your feet [NOT Hope you're pleased (that lyric above is wrong), because she doesn't care; she'll play you and charm you off your feet and into bed where you and your secrets are vulnerable]

    with the crumbs she throws you [with the little attention she pays you]

    She's ferocious and she knows just
    What it takes to make a pro blush [she could make a hooker blush and can get what she wants]

    All the boys think she's a spy [just like WWI spy Mata Hari who Greta Garbo coincidentally played in the 1931 movie Mata Hari]

    she's got Bette Davis eyes [the kind that can charm you with the bat of the lashes or stare through like ice]

    Also, "Greta Garbo stand-off sighs" is a reference to Garbo's most famous movie line from Grand Hotel where she breathily says, "I want to be alone" and the fact Garbo was completely stand-offish with the public and press in her real life.
    Endymion2013on December 09, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is about a woman who can see through people; she has Bette Davis's eyes. It's a metaphor for the power in the woman like the power in Bette Davis's eyes. Bette Davis took command of the entire screen, and was monumental. This song is about how a woman is like that. This woman uses that power; assests that Bette Davis very much used.
    Marnoon January 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI used to think this was sung by Rod Stewart. Actually, the All Music Guide describes Ms. Carnes' voice as being like Mr. Stewarts. So I guess I can't be blamed.
    groupingon July 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWOW... I guess i should get busy submiting the *REAL* Kim Carnes stuff...
    astropixon August 23, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is about a tease, duh
    giselaon May 19, 2004   Link

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