Song Lyric Sunday — What Were They Thinking?

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams has asked us to feature songs that were turned down by recording artists that went on to become big hits. The song I am focusing on is Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” which was originally written for Meat Loaf.

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” was recorded by Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler. It was written and produced by Jim Steinman, and released on Tyler’s fifth studio album, Faster Than the Speed of Night in 1983.

The song became Tyler’s biggest career hit. In the United States, the single spent four weeks at the top of the charts. The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. It also topped the U.K. Singles Chart, and became the fifth-best-selling single in 1983 in the U.K. When the song hit number 1 in America, Tyler became the first Welsh artist to top the chart there, something her countryman, Tom Jones, never did.

Jim Steinman wrote all of Meat Loaf’s major hits, including “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” and “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad.” He offered “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to Meat Loaf for his 1983 album Midnight At The Lost And Found. For financial reasons, though, Meat Loaf’s record company wanted him to write his own songs for the album, so “Total Eclipse” went to Tyler.

Tyler was blown away when she saw Meat Loaf perform “Bat Out Of Hell” on a BBC music series. When she signed with Sony, the label asked her who she’d like to work with. She replied: “Whoever writes for Meat Loaf.”

According to Tyler, Meat Loaf was pissed when she took the song to number 1, claiming the song should have been his. But she said that Steinman had only started writing the song for Meat Loaf, but finished it for her. Steinman thought her distinctive, raspy voice was perfect for “Total Eclipse Of The Heart.”

Tyler believed the song was about “someone who wants to love so badly she’s lying there in complete darkness.” But according to Songfacts, Steinman said this song was a tribute to the 1922 vampire film Nosferatu, an adaptation of the Dracula story. This helps explain the “love in the dark” that permeates the song. The singer is on edge, at times lonely, nervous, and terrified. She calls out for her lover, ready to join him in a forever that may be more than metaphorical (vampires are immortal). When he comes for her, it’s a total eclipse of the heart. Forever starts tonight.

Here are the lyrics to “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

(Turn around) every now and then I get a little bit lonely
And you're never coming 'round
(Turn around) every now and then I get a little bit tired
Of listening to the sound of my tears
(Turn around) every now and then I get a little bit nervous
That the best of all the years have gone by
(Turn around) every now and then I get a little bit terrified
And then I see the look in your eyes
(Turn around, bright eyes) every now and then I fall apart
(Turn around, bright eyes) every now and then I fall apart

(Turn around) every now and then I get a little bit reckless
And I dream of something wild
(Turn around) every now and then I get a little bit helpless
And I'm lying like a child in your arms
(Turn around) every now and then I get a little bit angry
And I know I've got to get out and cry
(Turn around) every now and then I get a little bit terrified
But then I see the look in your eyes
(Turn around, bright eyes) every now and then I fall apart
(Turn around, bright eyes) every now and then I fall apart

And I need you now tonight
And I need you more than ever
And if you only hold me tight
We'll be holding on forever
And we'll only be making it right
'Cause we'll never be wrong
Together we can take it to the end of the line
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time (all of the time)
I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark
We're livin' in a powder keg and givin' off sparks
I really need you tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight

Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I'm only falling apart
There's nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart
Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there's only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart

(Turn around, bright eyes)
(Turn around, bright eyes)

(Turn around) every now and then I know you'll never be the boy
You always wanted to be
(Turn around) but every now and then I know you'll always be the only boy
Who wanted me the way that I am
(Turn around) every now and then I know there's no one in the universe
As magical and wondrous as you
(Turn around) every now and then I know there's nothing any better
There's nothing that I just wouldn't do
(Turn around, bright eyes) every now and then I fall apart
(Turn around, bright eyes) every now and then I fall apart

And I need you now tonight (and I need you now)
And I need you more than ever
And if you only hold me tight (if you only)
We'll be holding on forever
And we'll only be making it right (and we'll never)
'Cause we'll never be wrong
Together we can take it to the end of the line
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time (all of the time)
I don't know what to do, I'm always in the dark
We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
I really need you tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight

Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I'm only falling apart
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart

Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there's only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart
A total eclipse of the heart
A total eclipse of the heart
Turn around, bright eyes
Turn around, bright eyes
Turn around, ooh ooh

14 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — What Were They Thinking?

  1. Nope, Not Pam July 10, 2022 / 3:23 am

    Great song, really worked well with her vocals

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Clive July 10, 2022 / 3:40 am

    Great choice – a real pop classic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango July 10, 2022 / 10:11 pm

      Thanks, Christine.

      Like

  3. bushboy July 10, 2022 / 5:22 am

    Sure sounds like it would have been a Meatloaf song. A classic. Did well in Australia too 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. willowdot21 July 10, 2022 / 6:37 am

    A fabulous song and Bonnie is a great singer she has the perfect voice for this song. I do absolutely love it.
    I had read somewhere it was meant for Meatloaf but I firmly believe she did a perfect job on it 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  5. newepicauthor July 10, 2022 / 6:59 am

    Nice choice Fandango. For some reason, I remember reading that Steinman told Meat Loaf that this song was not right for him, but I think it would have been perfect. Great write-up, I learned a lot from your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. leigha66 July 10, 2022 / 4:15 pm

    Always thought it was an epic song… never realized it was a Steinman song, no wonder it is so good!

    Liked by 1 person

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