Monday, 11 March 2013

Holding out for a Hero: From Footloose to Cover Up to Glee

The album cover for Bonnie Tyler's
"Faster Than the Speed of Night".
It was a gravelly voice that was strangely compelling. I’m talking about Bonnie Tyler who, in the mid-1980s, had a pretty major run of success that lasted about two years.

If memory serves, her first hit was “It’s a Heartache” back in 1977, then throat cancer threatened much more than her career – it threatened her life. She beat it and made a major comeback in the early 1980s. It was 1983 and she teamed up with Jim Steinman, who had had so much success with Meat Loaf on Bat Out of Hell. The hit that started it, and turned out to be the biggest of all, was called “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and it soared to number one on the Billboard charts.

The first time I ever heard the album Faster Than the Speed of Night was at a sleep over in Grade 9 at my buddy Mike Hartman's. He was the coolest guy. He had car speakers wired in most of the rooms in his basement so he piped music all through the place. It was awesome. And it was Bonnie Tyler and that raspy voice I remember in the TV room, and the bedroom, and the bathroom. 

Making the Movies
Back in the 1980s, if you were a hit, you were likely to be tapped to contribute a song to a soundtrack. The 1980s were filled with all kinds of amazing soundtracks. Perhaps one of the most prolific was the Footloose soundtrack.

Various songs from it played on the radio for months and months. One of those songs was from Bonnie Tyler. It was called “Holding Out for a Hero” and it was classic Bonnie Tyler, also written by Jim Steinman. I recall her performing it live on Solid Gold on a Saturday night, and it really rocked.

TV theme song

The song also ended up being the theme song for a series called “Cover Up” starring Jennifer O’Neill and Jon-Erik Hexum. Back then it was much more complicated and difficult to get an actual song on TV. Consequently, the theme song for “Cover Up” was , well, a cover.
The show, which ran in the 1984-1985 season, was about two spies, masquerading in the high fashion business. She was a photographer and he was her model. Hexum played Mac Harper, a former special forces operative in Vietnam. Sadly, he was shot and killed in a freak accident on set, and the replaced by Antony Hamilton. Their boss was another familiar face: Richard Anderson, who had played Oscar Goldman on The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. Cover Up would only last one season.

Glee kindles memories of sleepovers
It seems the '80s are back in style, and Glee has made a living out of bringing back hits from back then. It's like creator Ryan Murphy was at school in Coaldale along with me and my friends from 1983 to 1987. Not too long ago Holding out for a Hero came to my mind because it was one of the centerpieces of an episode of Glee.

It reminded me of those sleepovers I had, especially in junior high. Living on the farm I spent so much time out in the country, I was dying to be around my friends. It broke my heart to watch them all from the bus window, playing after school, as it took me out of town and back home. It was so cool to stay after school, and hang out at Mike Hartman's. We listened to music and I can still remember the albums: "Faster Than the Speed of Night" of course, and "Kilroy Was Here" by Styx. We shot hoops, and eventually tore down the hoop, for whatever reason. And we just hung out and had a good time.

I ran into Mike just before Christmas, and he remembered those sleepovers as well as I did. It was gratifying to know they made a lasting impression on him too. And I will continue to be reminded every time I hear "Total Eclipse of the Heart", "It's a Heartache", and especially "Holding Out for a Hero".

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