Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” seems to be about normal people; however, it’s actually about vampires. In fact, writer Jim Steinman originally wrote it for a musical based on one of the most famous vampire movies ever. Steinman revealed he was surprised he got to work with Tyler on the classic track for a very specific reason.
Why Jim Steinman was surprised when he had the opportunity to work with Bonnie Tyler
In a Rolling Stone interview, Steinman revealed he was surprised to be asked to work with Tyler because he was mostly known for Meat Loaf records and heavy metal-esque songs. “I was a little bit surprised they would ask me, but my second thought it was a real challenge because of that,” he said. “And I thought she [had] one of the most passionate voices I’d ever heard in rock ‘n’ roll since Janis Joplin.”
How a natural phenomenon and vampires inspired ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’
Steinman revealed the influence behind “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was the idea of a lunar eclipse. “I thought of it more as a fever song,” he said. “Most pop songs are about the lyrical side of love, the pleasant side. I’ve always liked writing about the other side, the darker side. An eclipse seemed like the perfect image to describe when someone is totally overwhelmed by love. It’s like an eclipse. There’s no more light at all.”
According to Playbill, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” appeared in the musical Dance of the Vampires. Steinman revealed this was fitting. “I actually wrote [‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’] to be a vampire love song,” he said. “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 [the] dark.”
The legacy of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’
Tyler had success with Steinman’s song. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the chart for 29 weeks. It became Tyler’s only No. 1 hit and her only top 10 hit besides “It’s a Heartache,” which hit No. 3. The song’s parent album, Faster Than the Speed of Night, was a hit as well. It reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200, remaining on the chart for 32 weeks.
The Official Chart Company reports “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was a hit in the United Kingdom as well. It hit No. 1 in the U.K., staying on the chart for 16 weeks. It was Tyler’s only No. 1 hit in the U.K., though she had several other top 10 hits there. Faster Than the Speed of Night reached No. 1 in the U.K., staying on the chart for 45 weeks.
Although Steinman wrote “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for a vampire musical, it seemed to resonate outside of the world of musical theater.