…it’s a fool’s game

As Gaynor Hopkins can well attest, sometimes a dispiriting heartache can pave the way to incalculable gladness.  Born in Skewen, Neath, Wales in 1951, her father was a coal miner and her mother an opera lover whose musical affinity was shared with her children.

Coming of age in the ‘60s Gaynor, who worked as a supermarket cashier upon leaving school, was especially moved by Janis Joplin, Tina Turner and (fellow Welsh woman) Mary Hopkin. Blessed with a fine singing voice herself, it was her rendition of the Hopkin hit “Those Were the Days” that won her a £1 prize in a local talent contest and led to a series of pub and club appearances with a local band.

Although those who know her personally still call her Gaynor, it was clear that she needed to adopt a stage name.  So after forming a band of her own she incorporated the names of a few relatives and came up with…Sherene Davis.

Eventually the young singer was “discovered” by Swansea-based songwriter/producers Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe.  But the resulting record contract came with the stipulation that she select a different stage name, and Sherene Davis became Bonnie Tyler.

Within months the newly named Tyler had her first Top Ten UK hit with “Lost in France” (perhaps you too remember… “I was lost…in France…in love”).  Next came a successful debut album. And then came the heartache.

Diagnosed with nodules on her vocal cords that were severe enough to warrant immediate surgery, Tyler was ordered not to speak for six weeks. But after only a few days she accidentally screamed out in frustration, causing her voice to take on a permanent raspy quality that would forever alter the way she sounded.

Having already written her next single, Scott and Wolfe convinced the despondent singer to record the aptly named “It’s a Heartache” nonetheless. Surprisingly, her performance resonated in the UK, peaking at Number 4 on the charts.  But before its scheduled U.S. release a nearly concurrent version by Juice Newton became a huge hit in Mexico.  With dueling versions about to hit the American airwaves, each of them exemplary, the down home American clearly had a huge advantage over the little-known Welsh miners’ daughter.

To everyone’s astonishment, particularly her own, it was Tyler’s convincingly husky rendition that reached Number 3 on the Billboard Charts while topping pop charts around the globe.  Not only was it one of the most memorable songs of 1978 (Newton’s version peaked at Number 86) but, with over six million copies sold, it remains one of the best selling singles of all time.

In more ways than one, Bonnie Tyler’s “Heartache” enabled her to become an international star.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Thursday 6 September

It’s a Heartache

 It’s a heartache

Nothing but a heartache

Hits you when it’s too late

Hits you when you’re down

It’s a fool’s game

Nothing but a fools game

Standing in the cold rain

Feeling like a clown

It’s a heartache

Nothing but a heartache

Love him till your arms break

Then he lets you down

It ain’t right with love to share

When you find he doesn’t care for you

It ain’t wise to need someone

As much as I depended on you

It’s a heartache

Nothing but a heartache

Hits you when it’s too late

Hits you when you’re down

It’s a fool’s game

Nothing but a fools game

Standing in the cold rain

Feeling like a clown

It ain’t right with love to share

When you find he doesn’t care for you

It ain’t wise to need someone

As much as I depended on you

 Oh, it’s a heartache

Nothing but a heartache

Love him till your arms break

Then he lets you down

It’s a fool’s game

Standing in the cold rain

Feeling like a clown

It’s a heartache

Love him till your arms break

Then he lets you down

It’s a fool’s game

Standing in the cold rain…

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