Bonnie Tyler Talks ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’ Miley Cyrus, TikTok, the’ 80s, Desmond Child and Believing ‘The Best Is Yet to Come’

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Rock Cellar Magazine
The Best Is Yet to Come, the vibrant new album from Bonnie Tyler, is bolstered by dramatic, full-bodied vocals, synths, and some rock guitar solos.

Those same elements helped propel her best-known studio effort, 1983’s Faster Than the Speed of Night, and her signature song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to the upper reaches of the American music charts.

The sonic catalyst for The Best came from first single “When the Lights Go Down,” written especially for Tyler by frequent collaborator Steve Womack.

“I felt it had that magic I hear in my favorite Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart songs,” she says.

“When we got into the studio, everyone involved captured the fantastic, timeless rock feel that I love, and I want to keep doing. I don’t care if it goes back to the ‘80s – it’s just so good. Steve writes the most amazing choruses; they’re infectious. You can’t help but sing along with them. I’m absolutely thrilled with it.”

Although Tyler first emerged on the world music scene 40-odd years ago, she definitely isn’t jaded.

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During a phone interview earlier this month from her vacation home in Portugal, the Welsh pop/rock singer possessed a joie de vivre indicated by an impromptu burst into song, several exclamations and laughter aplenty.

“I came here for a week’s holiday last March and then the lockdown happened. It’s been the longest holiday of my life,” says Tyler, about handling the pandemic. “I only go out once every two or three weeks at the moment to shop with my husband.”

After praising “wonderful scientists” around the world, she looked ahead to when life gets back to normal and said, “I don’t think any one of us will ever take anything for granted again, something as little as hugging someone.”

Over the past year, various musicians’ online performances during quarantines often resulted in a renewed appreciation for the art form.

“It turns out music is everybody’s friend. We all need music in our life – it’s in my DNA,” Tyler affirms. “I’ve had a wonderful time off, but I’m ready and raring to go” on tour whenever that is safe. “I miss my audience, my band and my crew. They’re like my other family. Most of my band have been with me over 30 years.”

The Best is Yet to Come, originally scheduled to be released last spring, was put on hold by earMUSIC/Edel Records because “nobody knew what was happening” with the pandemic. The album saw Tyler reconnect with producer/musician David Mackay.

He also oversaw 2019’s Between the Earth and the Stars (featuring Rod Stewart and Cliff Richard duets). They previously hadn’t worked together since Tyler’s late 1970s albums spawned the U.K. Top 10 singles “Lost in France” and “It’s a Heartache” (the latter also went Top 5 Stateside).

Kevin Dunne, a bass player from Tyler’s second band in the early ‘70s, spearheaded the reunion. He had written some songs he thought the singer would like and requested some feedback. Tyler was initially hesitant because Dunne wasn’t known for being a tunesmith, but she still agreed.

“He sent me the songs, I listened to them and I thought they were fabulous,” recalls Tyler. “I rang him and said, ‘Why haven’t you been writing before now?’ He said, ‘I’m working with David Mackay, your first producer. We’re knocking my songs into shape. Would you be up for coming over to see how they’re working out by doing a couple demos in the studio? No pressure. Just come and see.’”

Then Tyler visited Mackay and Dunne and their collaborations kicked into gear.

“It was so lovely to see David again after 40 years. It’s wonderful being back with him. I feel like I’ve gone home. He is such a gentleman,” Tyler confirms. “I’m having the time of my life recording with him. We’re already collecting songs for the next album.”

They scheduled The Best recording sessions around Between the Earth and the Stars tour dates. Conveniently, Mackay’s residential studio is a short distance from London’s main airport. “Every time I flew into Heathrow after a gig somewhere, I would go and listen to demos” he had acquired.

“I couldn’t wait to get there to listen to these songs. They were just right up my street. I’d lay a couple of tracks down, go off and come back and do the same thing again.

“I’d go in about 12. At half past 5, it was ‘tools down, family time,’” she continues. “Then his wife would cook a lovely dinner for us all. We’d open the champagne and wine. It was a joyful time making this album. No stress at all.”


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A post shared by Bonnie Tyler (@bonnietylerofficial)

Among the new album’s dozen tracks are Tyler’s subtle take on Donovan’s 1965 hit “Catch the Wind” and a smooth, piano, and sax-driven cover of “I’m Not in Love,” the international soft rock hit by 10cc from 1975.

“It came so natural to me,” Tyler says of the latter tune, which is heightened by her burnished vocal purr. “It’s such an incredibly emotional song. I think I’ve really made it my own. There would be no point in covering it if I didn’t. David suggested that song.”

Uplifting women’s anthem “Stronger Than a Man,” was co-written by Desmond Child (Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Cher, Ricky Martin). He previously produced Tyler’s 1988 album Hide Your Heart and has given her various songs since then.

“I rang him and said, ‘Desmond, I’m in the studio making a new album. It’s almost done. Have you got a new song for me? Within a few days, he sent me this song. It’s fabulous and so powerful to sing. I’m thrilled with it.”

Tyler’s old friend John Parr contributes guitar to the simmering ballad “You’re the One,” while idyllic pan pipes courtesy of Ecuadorian musician Leo Rojas color the urgently orchestrated “Stuck to My Guns.”

A majority of the supple female backing vocals on The Best is Yet to Come are handled by Miriam Stockley, whose impressive credits includes work on albums by Queen, Roger Daltrey, Tina Turner, Thomas Dolby, ABC, and others.

“She’s such an awesome singer,” enthuses Tyler. “To have her involved is something I take as a huge compliment because she’s on so many hit records.”

Recently Tyler joined the popular Tik Tok platform and posted two “Total Eclipse of the Heart” videos where users can create their own duet with her. One of them has garnered nearly 450,000 versions. She also posted one for “When the Lights Go Down.”

@bonnietylerofficialNew duet! Total Eclipse Of The Heart, but you do the backing vocals! #bonnietyler #totaleclipseoftheheart #duet #zurückzurmusik #80s #duetwithme♬ Originalton – Bonnie Tyler

“I’m not very technical,” Tyler admits. “The front of my house is all full of glass and has lighting like a house in Hollywood. I couldn’t find a place to get good lighting for it. I ended up going to the bottom of my staircase. A plain wall was the only place I could do it. A lot of people are going on there and singing with me.”

Meanwhile, “Eclipse” has amassed over 400 million streams on Spotify. The tune still pops up everywhere from various compilations and internet platforms to TV shows and film soundtracks.

“It is an incredible song. I never get tired of singing it,” says Tyler. “Every time I sing it is like the first time. I never would’ve dreamed when it was released that it would sell six million copies” worldwide.

She says when the time comes to eventually perform it and her other catalog staples on a concert stage, “it’s going to be so emotional being out with my band again. I think we’re all going to be crying.”

Another example of Tyler’s enduring popularity came last December during YouTube’s original series “Released.” Miley Cyrus was the guest and sang a snippet of “It’s a Heartache.” She professed her admiration for the veteran artist on Twitter. A YouTube user even created a mix of the two voices singing it together.

“I was flattered; she made my day,” notes Tyler. “She’s got a fabulous voice. When she was younger, she used to play me all the time because she’s always had a bit of a husky voice. I loved the way she did the phrasing.”

Since Tyler was the United Kingdom’s entrant in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest with “Believe in Me,” a Child-penned track from her country-leaning Rocks and Honey album that year, has she watched Will Ferrell’s 2020 comedy film sendup, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga?

“Yes, I liked it. You wouldn’t believe how real that film is! It’s hysterical. When I was there (at the competition), I wasn’t looking forward to going whatsoever. I (basically) had to do it because the BBC asked me. I thought, ‘If I say ‘no,’ they’re never going to play my records.’ So, I went along with it and I actually enjoyed it. It was great fun. Plenty of hard work. When I walked behind that British flag, I thought the roof was going to come off. It was such an awesome feeling. The people that go there are so dedicated.”

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