Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “Total Eclipse of the Heart” — Bonnie Tyler (1983)


WAIT!! Where are you going? Settle down, there’s good reason for this. If you stick around, there might be a $5 cheese plate in it for you..

OK you’re still here? Good.

Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 smash hit Total Eclipse of the Heart is probably the last song you’d associate with creepy crawlie spooky Halloween tunes, and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that Hokeydude has lost his last tiddly-wink.

(You’ve got a lot of nerve, mister…)

But let’s take a moment to revisit this fascinating slice of 80s Octagintabulousness. The song was composed by stalwart songwriter Jim Steinman, he who created the 70s AOR magic that was Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell album, who popularized the entire overblown operatic rock movement to great effect. I’m a huge fan. Over the top, bombastic, at times more than a little self-indulgent and as subtle as a sledgehammer to the nuts? Most assuredly. It’s all that and more, and he does it so well.

Anyway, Total Eclipse of the Heart might seem like your average 80s power ballad-meets-easy listening commercial hit, but it actually came from much darker origins. As Steinman himself put it:

I was trying to come up with a love song and I remembered I actually wrote that to be a vampire love song. Its original title was Vampires in Love because I was working on a musical of Nosferatu, the other great vampire story. If anyone listens to the lyrics, they’re really like vampire lines. It’s all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love’s place in dark…

That’s right: that sweet little ballad your little sister performed an interpretive dance to in the 6th grade talent show? It was all about bloodsucking creatures of the night, falling in love with hapless denizens of the mortal world. When Tyler is bellowing out lines like “forever’s gonna start tonight” and “I’m always in the dark”, it aint just metaphorical, man.

Freakin’ VAMPIRES!!

Now you’ll never hear this song the same way again…

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…

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