Flashback: “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” by Bonnie Tyler

Okay, okay. I teased it a couple of weeks ago, I figured I’d better get around to it.

There’s a huge story behind this song for me, and it’s not even my favorite song of Bonnie’s: “Holding Out For A Hero” is.

When I first heard this song on Q-105 (WRBQ here in Tampa) back in late June of 1983, I remember thinking, “This will be a #1 song.” It was so different from anything on the radio at that time, and my 11 year old mind remembered that Tyler had a hit back in 1978 with “It’s A Heartache,” so I figured this song was a lead-pipe cinch. In horse racing terms, she was a “proven jockey” of the time, as I would find out later that Bonnie was looking for a change of management after her career had been stuck in neutral after her success five years prior.

Later that night, I saw the video of the song on NBC’s hour-long late night video show (so short lived I don’t remember the name of it) and it only convinced me more that this prediction was the correct one. In the video, Bonnie is waltzing around (with the impression that she’s a teacher at a boarding school with teen-aged kids with magical powers attempting some sort of seduction) in a white robe singing the lyrics of this mega-ballad.

In the UK, “Total Eclipse” quickly shot to the top of the charts in the spring of ’83, knocking off “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson. Here in the States, the song slowly rose up the charts, cracking the top-10 by Labor Day, then up the top-5 by the end of the month. On October 1, 1983, my prediction (and probably a few other music nerds out there) came true: it topped the Billboard charts and stayed there for four weeks.

The song was also a coup for composer Jim Steinman. Many thought “Eclipse” could have been meant for his usual running buddy Meat Loaf, but the rumors were that a fight over record labels and paying for the song kept the “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” crooner from belting that one out. “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All” by Air Supply (which Bonnie eventually covered in 1996) was a number two on the US charts for a portion of Bonnie’s reign at number one, and that song was also written by Steinman.

A pretty song by most standards. No wonder there have been so many remakes of it over the years.


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