Day 6

Decades later, Bonnie Tyler still finds new fans for her hit song every total eclipse

In 1983, Total Eclipse of the Heart was a chart-topping song. Produced by Jim Steinman, it's a song that Bonnie Tyler says she never gets tired of singing. In anticipation of the April 8 solar eclipse, the song might be the perfect way to commemorate the celestial event.

At 72, Tyler says she still loves singing her 1983 hit, Total Eclipse of the Heart

Woman with blonde hair holding a microphone
Welsh rock singer and songwriter Bonnie Tyler performs during her concert in Debrecen, Hungary, June 18, 2016. Tyler is best known for her chart-topping hit, Total Eclipse of the Heart. (Zsolt Czegledi/Associated Press)

Every time there's an eclipse, Bonnie Tyler's phone rings off the hook. 

"My emails are coming in like Fast and Furious every time there's an eclipse," she told Day 6 host Brent Bambury. 

That's because the Welsh singer might just have the best tune to listen to in the run up to celestial adventures, and especially during the totality of Monday's solar eclipse. 

As people across the country gear up for the solar eclipse, Tyler's 1983 hit single Total Eclipse of the Heart could well be running through their heads. 

The decades-old song, produced by Jim Steinman — known for his work with Meat Loaf and other notable artists— earned top spots on charts all over the world. 

And it's a ballad that she never gets "tired of singing," said Tyler. 

Here is part of Tyler's conversation with Day 6 host Brent Bambury. 

Four decades ago, before you recorded Total Eclipse of the Heart, how much did you know about these celestial events called eclipses?

A lot more after I recorded Total Eclipse of the Heart — my phone doesn't stop.

To work with Jim Steinman was a dream come true. I always wanted to work with him. And Jim Steinman wrote iconic songs for myself, Meat Loaf, Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand, you name them. It was my dream to work with him, and I got it.

How did you end up meeting him?

I had just finished my contract with RCA Records. I was there for five years and they wanted to re-sign me for another five years, which was a huge compliment. But I had my sights set on working with Jim Steinman. I had no idea if he would work with me. 

I signed to Sony then, which was CBS at the time, and when the head of A&R asked me who I wanted to work with and I said, "I want to work with whoever writes and produces Meat Loaf's stuff." He said "Bonnie, that's Jim Steinman," and I said "Yes, so?'" And he said "He's never gonna do it; you're a country-rock singer." And I said, "Ask him; you never know!"

So they did ask him... He was intrigued by the idea. He sent a message to the A&R department to say "I'd like to meet Bonnie; could she come to New York?" So I went to his incredible apartment … and we got on very well.

A woman in a black dress sings into a microphone.
Tyler said she gets inundated with requests every time there's an eclipse. (Ragnar Singsaas/Getty)

This is a long song. This is a dark, long journey.

It broke Jim's heart to have to edit it from nearly 8:00 minutes to 4:50, for the radios to play it. But they loved the record so much in the end, they were playing the full version. 

It went to number one in America, I think for four weeks. It went to number one in the U.K. for three weeks, and in the top 10 all over the world. It's a mega mega hit. I still tour, and I'm 72 now — 73 in June. But I just finished 38 shows with my band…. I've been very lucky. 

You said that Jim Steinman's heart broke when he had to edit the song down, but what does it do to your heart when you start to sing it? Because you know, you've got some pretty big notes you have to hit in that long journey.

I have to be honest with you; I have taken it down one tone since we recorded it. You know, I tour so much, I travel so much, it makes it slightly easier. And I love singing it. 

And he wrote so many incredible, iconic songs. I mean, how many times have you heard Holding Out for a Hero or Total Eclipse of the Heart on the radio or on these talent shows that people go on? And you know, they're always coming up on adverts. My god I've lost count of how many adverts use them on British television.

Can you tell me about making the video for Total Eclipse of the Heart? Because that is such a bonkers memorable video and you do a lot of running in that.

It was freezing cold and I had to run barefoot through the snow. It was very hard for one to do. But it was incredible. I had total faith in Jim's storyboards. I don't know where his mind was; his ideas were incredible.

WATCH | Watch the iconic music video for Total Eclipse of the Heart

Jim Steinman passed away three years ago. What do you remember the last time you saw him?

I was devastated when I heard the news that he had passed on. We were in touch by email only. I hadn't seen Jim for ages before he died. But I was so blessed to have worked with him. 

Bonnie Tyler, do you have any advice for Eclipse watchers on this side of the Atlantic?

Well, apparently, you really should have special glasses but I don't know — you better check the internet for that. But I'm sure my song will be playing all over the world somewhere.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Keena Alwahaidi is a reporter and associate producer for CBC. She's interested in news, arts/culture and human interest stories. Follow her on Twitter at @keenaalwahaidi

Produced by Laurie Allan. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.