Ahead of the Highly-Anticipated Eclipse, Learn the Odd History Behind Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

Bonnie Tyler sur le plateau de l'émission 'Champs-Elysée' le 24 juin 1983 à Paris, France
Jean-Jacques BERNIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

If you’re lucky enough to be able to view the eclipse on April 8, 2024, perhaps you need an epic soundtrack for the exciting day (don’t forget to wear special glasses if you’re looking directly at the eclipse!). Even if you don’t really care much about the eclipse, you’ve certainly heard the incredible power ballad “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler, released in 1983. The almost seven-minute song became a No. 1 hit and has since become a classic, celebrating its 40th anniversary last year.

The song was written and composed by the late Jim Steinman, who often worked on music for Meat Loaf. Part of the hit song came in the late 1960s when Steinman wrote a musical called The Dream Engine featuring the lyric “turn around bright eyes,” as a reference to a flash after a nuclear explosion. As strange as the musical was, that line stuck out in his head for many years. Musical theater producer and director Joseph Papp noticed Steinman and his musical and asked Steinman to work with him in New York, where he began working with Meat Loaf.

View of American Rock composer, musician, and producer Jim Steinman (1947 - 2021) as he stands on a terrace, New York, New York, April 30, 1981

Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

Bonnie Tyler was a fan of Meat Loaf’s album Bat Out of Hell and she was looking for a new sound. She knew she wanted to work with Steinman. Tyler shared, “I’d just signed to Sony and wanted to change from country rock to rock. I’d seen Meat Loaf on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test doing ‘Bat Out of Hell,’ so I told [A&R man] Muff Winwood that I wanted to work with Jim Steinman. Muff looked at me like I was barmy and told me that Jim would never do it. ‘I just want you to ask him,’ I said.”

Bonnie Tyler of the United Kingdom performs on stage during the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 at Malmo Arena on May 18, 2013 in Malmo, Sweden

Ragnar Singsaas/Getty Images

Initially, he did say no but Tyler was persistent. When they met again in 1982, Steinman arranged a test of sorts. He played two of his favorite songs and wanted to see her reaction (The songs were Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” and Blue Öyster Cult’s “Goin’ Through the Motions”). Her reaction was good enough for him and he finally agreed to work with her. The rest is history. His amazing lyrics and music combined with Tyler’s voice created pure ’80s magic. Tyler would go on to have only one more Top 40 hit in the United States. It was 1984’s “Holding Out for a Hero,” also co-written by Steinman.

Get ready to feel nostalgic because without further ado, let’s listen to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and watch its wacky music video, which also features a lot of ideas from Steinman:

’80s Where Are They Now
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’80s Where Are They Now

March 2023

Who can forget all the great TV shows, movies and music of the ‘80s? See what your favs are up to now!

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