Monday, 15 January 2018

My Top Ten Bette Davis Songs

I've been very much enjoying the series Feud: Bette & Joan which ran on TV over Christmas. Great to see 60s America recreated so faithfully and the performances by Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange and Alfred Molina were terrific. Stanley Tucci was hilarious as Jack Warner too. Of the two, Sarandon's Bette Davis probably comes out best, being shown as both the better actress and the more sympathetic human being (most of the time).

Not done an Actory Top Ten for awhile, so here's ten songs about Bette and her films...

10. Rod Stewart - Baby Jane

Well, we've got to start with this one, haven't we? As seen in Feud, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? was the film that cemented the rivalry between Bette and Joan.

Some debate on t'internet as to whether Rod's song has anything to do with the movie... and quite a lot of old Rod The Mod fans bemoaning his 80s ouvre, of which this is seen as a particularly irksome entry. You can have the Belle & Sebastian version if you prefer. Or perhaps a completely different Baby Jane from Dr. Feelgood.

9. The Gaslight Anthem - Mae

There's an argument to be had that Brian Fallon hasn't had an original idea in his life, but everybody loves Noel Gallagher for the same crime, so cut The Gaslight Anthem a break...
Stay the same, don’t ever change
'Cause I’d miss your ways
With your Bette Davis eyes
And your mama's party dress
8. Al Stewart - Next Time

Not the first time Al has cropped up here name-dropping famous actresses. Probably won't be the last.
When you were just a kid you loved
To go to movies in the afternoon
And so you left the factory
And got a job in the projection-room
Bette Davis plays
Ran away with the passing days
You'll be a movie-star
Next time
7. Good Charlotte - Silver Screen Romance

Hit the chorus, lads...!

You're my Bette Davis I'm your Cary Grant
Let's make love all night don't get up at the prohibition
The big depression's over lets have a drink to them
We'll stay young forever living in our silver screen romance

(It's gonna be harder to do my Cary Grant Top Ten now.)

6. Marc Almond - My Love

Hilarious lyrics from Marc on this whole song... and just watch the way he performs the Bette Davis lines in the video: perfect!
My love
Likes tattoos in biro
Love bites and lager
And long menthol fags
My love
Smokes like Bette Davis
In short... 

5. Iggy Pop - Get Up & Get Out

Turns out Iggy was part of the whole #metoo movement almost 40 years before the rest of the world. This is from 1980!
I'm wondering fellas if you've heard the news
The chicks are sick and tired of being abused
Now I saw all this on the wide screen
You know that chick Bette Davis split right out of the scene
4. Dire Straits - Industrial Disease

Leave your Dire Straits prejudices at the door, please.
Sociologists invent words that mean 'Industrial Disease'
Doctor Parkinson declared 'I'm not surprised to see you here
You've got smokers cough from smoking, brewer's droop from drinking beer
I don't know how you came to get the Bette Davis knees
But worst of all young man you've got Industrial Disease
3. The Wedding Present - All About Eve

Nothing to do with the movie, more about the year Davd Gedge spent in South Africa as a child and his memories of Apartheid. Of course, All About Eve also gave its name to these guys. Bette's legacy lives on!

2. Bob Dylan - Desolation Row

Undeniably great. (Though I also like the My Chemical Romance version.)
Cinderella, she seems so easy 
"It takes one to know one," she smiles 
And puts her hands in her back pockets 
Bette Davis style 
And in comes Romeo, he's moaning, 
"You belong to Me I Believe" 
And someone says, "You're in the wrong place, my friend. You better leave" 
And the only sound that's left 
After the ambulances go 
Is Cinderella sweeping up 
On Desolation Row.
1. Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes

The obvious #1, though I'm sure it'll be shunned as "too 80s" by many. You may prefer Jackie DeShannon's original... though it's a VERY different song. For a hipper "indie" version, try the Sexton Blake cover or this rather over-produced version by My Gold Mask. I'm sure it's been covered by a dozen other people, but those are the only ones to make it into my collection.

Kim Carnes is worth another post sometime though. Known to most people in the UK as a one hit wonder, her career actually stretches from the late 60s through to the present day, and her Best Of collection shows a lot of interesting work over that time. Try Gypsy Honeymoon as a taster, it might change your idea of her.

Think I can't follow that with a Joan Crawford Top Ten. Go on, dare me!


  1. The Kim Carnes version is better than Jackie deShannon's and the Sexton Blake ones. Joan Crawford next? Good. But no BLue Osyter Cult!

  2. Erm... Top 9 Joan Crawford Songs?


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