Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" Takes One Person's Sanity To The End Of The Line

Categories: Bonnie Tyler

This month, to celebrate the Internet's unbridled love for wallowing in nostalgia and even greater relishing of talking about why certain cultural artifacts are horrible, Sound of the City presents First Worsts, a series in which our writers remember the first time... they ever hated a song enough to call it The Worst. (And to be fair, we're also going to see how these songs have stood the test of time.)

THE SONG: Bonnie Tyler, "Total Eclipse of the Heart."
THE YEAR: 1983.
THE REASONS: College roommates, Meatloaf-ian histrionics.

1983 was my junior year of college, and the year all of my friends moved away from the dorms, out to Arthur Avenue and the other "safe" areas around Fordham's Bronx campus. Despite all of my pleading, I was left behind to find my way through student housing for one more year. (I think it had less to do with my parents' fear of the Bronx than their fear that without some kind of structure I would just spend every day in record stores and hanging out in rock clubs downtown. They were probably not wrong.)

So when September rolled around, I ended up in a suite with four other women that I didn't know, all—like me—rejects who didn't have someone else to room with. Three of them slept in their makeup in case they woke up and there was a man in the room and spent every moment angling for a husband. (The fourth didn't talk much at all.) As a result, I spent a lot of time in the suite of my sophomore roommate, Casey, who'd left me behind because she had to room with a group of friends from her upstate hometown. Thankfully, they were just a bunch of normal girls trying to get through college with as little drama as possible; they had no problem with another person turning up and studying in the corner, or chipping in to add to the pasta pot for dinner.

Bonnie Tyler, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart"

There was only one problem: Those who liked music liked horrible music. To make things worse, they liked it but didn't pay attention to it—they were the kind of people who would put a record on and then leave to go do their laundry and come back when the tone arm was thunk-thunkthunking against the outer groove of the record. They would just pick it up and start over again while heading into the bathroom or the bedroom. If you pointed it out, they didn't understand what the problem was.

They loved Air Supply and Lionel Richie and "Islands In The Stream" and, when they were daring, "Every Breath You Take." (That was edgy, because, you know, the Police were British.) They weren't stupid women; they just didn't think about music the same way I did. They only knew what they heard on the radio and they liked what they liked.

The year passed into a lovely spring, and before I knew it, we were all barreling down towards the end of the year. I was trying to work on the student newspaper and write my papers and study for exams. I don't know when my roommates did their homework, but whenever I was in the suite, the TV was on full blast while they yelled at each other from the kitchen to the living room, usually with the water running. The library was packed; the light in the open-for-exams cafeteria gave me headaches; I was at my wits' end about what to do. Casey came upstairs one night to say hi, and found me sitting in a corner of the living room with my headphones on, facing the wall and desperately trying to concentrate while Star Trek reruns blasted at full volume. She walked over to turn the sound down, and before I could stop her, two of my roommates came running out of their rooms, yelling that they were watching that and she didn't live there.

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