Total Solar Eclipse 2017: Bonnie Tyler's 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Bonnie Tyler’s Pop Masterpiece ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’

Written by Meat Loaf producer Jim Steinman, the theatrical song has become one of the most enduring tunes of the 1980s

When Bat Out of Hell songwriter Jim Steinman was first approached about working with husky-voiced Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler on new music he was a little taken aback.” I was primarily known for doing records for Meat Loaf and my own records, which were these thunderous, Wagnerian, almost heavy metal, epic, stormy records,” he said in 1983. “I was a little bit surprised they would ask me, but my second thought it was a real challenge because of that. And I thought she one of the most passionate voices I’d ever heard in rock & roll since Janis Joplin.”

He also had an in-progress he felt would be the perfect showcase for her powerful voice that he began writing during a recent lunar eclipse. “I thought of it more as a fever song,” he said. “Most pop songs are about the lyrical side of love, the pleasant side. I’ve always liked writing about the other side, the darker side. An eclipse seemed like the perfect image to describe when someone is totally overwhelmed by love. It’s like an eclipse. There’s no more light at all.”

As he did with Bat Out of Hell, Steinman brought in pianist Roy Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg from the E Street Band to help create a bombastic, theatrical sound. The original cut of the song was over seven minutes long, but for radio it was cut down to a four and a half minutes. They promoted it with a video shot in a Victorian hospital in Surrey, England, which you can watch right here. The song flew up the charts all over the world, reaching #1 on the Hot 100 on October 1st, 1983, knocking Billy Joel’s “Tell Her About it” down a slot. It had a solid month in the top spot before Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton took over with “Islands In The Stream.”

She never had a hit that big again, though “Holding Out for a Hero” from the Footloose soundtrack got a lot of radio love the following year. But “Total Eclipse of the Heart” has never really gone away, becoming one of the most beloved pop songs of the entire 1980s. It’s given her a lot of work over the years, and she was even hired to sing it on a Caribbean cruise ship during today’s eclipse. “It’s going to be so exciting,” Tyler told Time. “It doesn’t happen very often, does it?”

In This Article: Bonnie Tyler


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