The Bangles – Eternal Flame

First Hit #1: April 1, 1989

Unexpectedly, the women behind Walk Like an Egyptian have made a country song. It’s not quite arranged like a country song, with an odd Casiotone and vocals mix that seems at odd with what the song is trying to do. It’s the vocal really, Susanna Hoffs developed a bit of a twang for this one, which combines with the soaring chorus to make a song that just sounds country. The lyrics are pretty country as well, a song about yearning filtered through a bit of vague religious imagery that feels right at home on country radio. I find myself wishing that the arrangement went with acoustic guitar over keyboards, and that they would have fully embraced the country influence that permeates the song, but I can understand why they didn’t. Not everyone likes country, and keeping the arrangement a bit weird might have just reassured Bangles fans – they’re still the women who gave you Walk Like an Egyptian, these are pop instruments.

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2 Responses to The Bangles – Eternal Flame

  1. RBerman says:

    The band didn’t like this song because 1) the drums came in so late, and 2) it wasn’t written with them. It’s still their best original (OK, co-written) song, though. And yes, Susannah Hoffs often does it on solo acoustic guitar, with or without any other Bangle. The lyrics express a typical sentiment of undying devotion. The melody is very well constructed from start to finish, with the verses segueing so seamlessly into the putative chorus (“Do you feel the same?…”) that it feels more like the second half of the verse than like a separate section. The chord progression at first comes straight from Stand By Me (or, if you like, Making Love Out of Nothing At All). I-vi-IV-V. But then the bridge (“Say my name…”) dallies in and out of the harmonic minor key with a chordal complexity rarely seen at the top of the charts. Put it together with Hoff’s solo lead vocal and non-band-centered instrumentation, and it smells like the start of a solo career, which it was.

  2. 94SideKick says:

    I actually legitimately love this song. Hoff’s vocals show vulnerability, the instrumentation is absolutely beautiful, and the lyrics flow well with her vocals.

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