Love Song for a Vampire: 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

Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ is a love song for a vampire and was originally named ‘Vampires in Love’. Knowing this really helps to explain the central image of the heart’s total eclipse and the outlandishly gothic video featuring a school for vampires (eat your heart out Twilight fans). Valentine’s day might just be the time to give this another spin and embrace some eighties eerie…after all forever’s gonna start tonight!

The story goes that after seeing ‘Meat Loaf’ perform ‘Bat Out of Hell’ live on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ a relatively unknown Tyler approached his producer Jim Steinman who eventually wrote ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart” for her. He later confessed to have been writing a musical version of Nosferatu:

 With ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’, 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 the dark’ (Steinman, ‘Dance of the Vampires’, Playbill, Sept 18th, 2002)

If you read the lyrics again the vampiric overtones are unmistakable! You can’t really out goth this for Valentine’s Day!!

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

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 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
And 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, 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 (and if you only)
We’ll be holding on forever
And we’ll only be making it right (’cause we’ll never be wrong)
‘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 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
And there’s 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

 

About Lucy Northenra

Senior Lecturer in Literature, University of Hertfordshire
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2 Responses to Love Song for a Vampire: Total Eclipse of the Heart

  1. Nearly a quarter of a billion Youtube views! Well deserved. It’s a classic song and video. When this came out I was living about half a mile from Bonnie’s house.

  2. Oh lucky to live in Swansea…she had to really fight to gain any recognition as she was never part of the London pop scene and a mature woman in a world of floppy haired new romantics…I think she really felt this song…there are not enough Welsh vampires!!

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