Sunday, June 30, 2013

Meat Loaf's Loss Is Someone Else's Gain, Part II: Bonnie Tyler

So you're thinking, "Gosh, Meat Loaf, tough break." I mean, nothing could be worse than missing out on "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All," right?

Ironically, the very week Air Supply's "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All" peaked at #2 on the Billboard chart, it was another Jim Steinman/Meat Loaf reject that held the #1 spot. Talk about salt in the wound. Then again, it's quite possible that Meat Loaf is too fat to feel his own wounds, nevertheless the salt in them.

I must confess that I don't remember hearing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" very much in the '80s, although I remember "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All" in chilling detail. Later on in my life, when I heard "Total Eclipse of the Heart," it sounded vaguely familiar to me in a way I could not pinpoint. The recycled "Moonlight Sonata" piano chords, the big, descending bass notes hovering around the chorus ... it strongly reminded me of another song! But what song? Years later, one night on Wikipedia solved the entire mystery.

It has probably been noted in Karaoke bars across the globe that the lyrics to "Total Eclipse of the Heart" don't really make any sense. Who the hell is "bright eyes"? Why does she need to turn around? So is she breaking up with the guy, or are they just dealing with some drama? I've never fully understood it. Most importantly, what the fuck is a total eclipse of the heart? Sounds like an unreleased Pink Floyd song:
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
I don't know what to do and 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
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
"We can take it to the end of the line"? So wait, is that a positive thing, or a negative thing? "Love in the dark"? What's wrong with love in the dark? Isn't that how a lot of people prefer it? This is nonsense!

Ah, but Jim Steinman knows what so many more linguistically obsessed songwriters don't: pop music isn't about logic. It's about coming up with a bunch of evocative imagery that sounds like it's about something, even if it isn't, and then coming up with a killer melody, and then producing the incarcerated Phil Spector out of it. As with "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All," Rick Derringer and E Street Band members Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan are on board, which I find somewhat amusing, as Bat Out Of Hell was arguably conceived as one big Springsteen parody. Also, give a hand to the guy playing castanets, because he clearly didn't get his due. I can see Steinman in the control booth now: "You know, it's good, but it needs more ... castanets!" Oh, and last but not least, there's the Welsh lioness behind the microphone.

Once upon a time, Bonnie Tyler was an aspiring young singer with a relatively normal voice. But a botched medical operation changed everything:
In 1977, Tyler was diagnosed with nodules on her vocal cords that were so severe that she needed to undergo surgery to remove them. After the surgery, she was ordered not to speak for six weeks to aid the healing process, but she accidentally screamed out in frustration one day, causing her voice to take on a raspy quality. At first she believed that her singing career was ruined, but to her surprise her next single, "It's a Heartache," made her an international star.
Instead of Tyler's singing voice being ruined, her singing voice was improved. That botched throat operation became her meal ticket!

And of course, there is the video. According to Wikipedia, "The Gothic-themed video features Bonnie Tyler clad in white, apparently having an erotic dream or fantasy about her students in a boys' boarding school." Ohhhhh. So that's what was happening. Makes as much sense as anything else, I suppose. Other than marveling at how it appears to have been filmed in the windiest mansion of all time, there is nothing I could say about the clip that hasn't already been said better by the accompanying "literal video," and there is nothing I could say about the literal video that hasn't already been said better by my fellow blogger Zrbo. Total eclipse of the blog, if you will.