Monday, March 18, 2024

"With" Such a Deeper Meaning Than "To"

I missed a lot of movies and music when I was overseas, but it allowed me to get turned on to music I never would’ve heard of otherwise. Some got airplay in the United States, like Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams. Some never did, like the German group No Angels. 

Atomic Kitten

Atomic Kitten first got my attention because of their cover of The Tide Is High. The all-female trio (Liz McClarnon, Natasha Hamilton, and Jenny Frost) went on to get a lot of airplay with about a dozen other songs, but the one that I truly came to love was Eternal Flame. I know, I know The Bangles recorded the original, but when it was released, I was deployed and didn’t get back until after its time had passed. To me, Atomic Kitten is the original.

The Bangles
The lyrics to Eternal Flame are beautiful and hit me right in the feels. They are some of the most sincere and engaging words I’ve ever heard put together in a song. Written by Susanna Lee Hoffs, Thomas F. Kelly, and William E. Steinberg for The Bangles. The song has a simple yet fully accessible message; one person asks another if they feel the same one-of-a-kind love that burns eternally. The mental pictures painted by the words are easy to understand but hard to fully identify with unless you’ve been there.

When Atomic Kitten performed the song, each member sang a verse solo, with all of them harmonizing on the repetitive chorus. I think this works much better than The Bangles version, which only had Susanna Hoffs singing lead. 

The one line that draws me into the song more than any other is the third line of the first verse after the initial chorus. This is the whole verse:

I believe it’s meant to be, darling

I watch you when you are sleeping

You belong with me

Do you feel the same? Am I only dreaming?

Or is this burning (burning) an eternal flame?

I misheard the lyric when I was first listening to the song, but then caught it later and that simple word change led me to the deeper meaning. It’s not that you belong to me, it’s that you belong with me. It might seem trivial, but it's such a different sentiment. That’s what solidified my feelings about Eternal Flame. It is so passionate and romantic. It isn’t about you being mine or vice versa; it’s about us being together.

Take a minute to listen to both versions of the song––they are enjoyable and even though the Atomic Kitten version is my favorite, even though it is a cover, it i. Probably because I heard it first.

Now, I give props to Susanna Hoffs for writing such a beautiful song, but then there’s the rest of the story. When she went into record the song, the producer told her he had recently worked with Olivia Newton-John and that she had a secret. ONJ had found that singing naked helped her find a level of passion she was otherwise missing, and it improved her singing. So, Susanna stripped down to record her vocals. She said it was like swimming in the nude. It left her vulnerable, but simultaneously freeing. After the song’s release, the producer admitted he made the whole thing up. Hoffs was miffed, but you can’t deny the results.


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