It's All Coming Back to Me Now
"It's All Coming Back to Me Now" is a power ballad, written by Jim Steinman. According to Steinman the song was inspired by Wuthering Heights, and was an attempt to write "the most passionate, romantic song" he could ever create. The Sunday Times posits that "Steinman protects his songs as if they were his children". Meat Loaf had wanted to record "It's All Coming Back..." for years, but Steinman saw it as a "woman's song." Steinman won a court movement preventing Meat Loaf from recording it. Céline Dion went on to record it, which upset Meat Loaf because he was going to use it for a planned album with the working title Bat out of Hell III. Alternately, Meat Loaf has said the song was intended for Bat out of Hell II and given to the singer in 1986, but that they both decided to use "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" for Bat II, and save this song for Bat III.
The song has had three major releases, all roughly belonging to the soft rock genre. The first version appeared on the concept album Original Sin, recorded by Pandora's Box. It was then recorded by Céline Dion for her album Falling into You, and her version was a commercial hit, reaching No. 2 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart. Meat Loaf recorded it as a duet with Norwegian singer Marion Raven for Bat III and released it as a single in 2006.
A music video was produced for each of the three versions; death is a recurring theme in all of these videos, fitting in with the suggestion in Virgin's press release for Original Sin that "in Steinman's songs, the dead come to life and the living are doomed to die." This is particularly evident when the dead characters seem to be resurrected in the memories of the main vocalist. Although in the case of Celine Dion's video, the theme is less about the living being doomed and more about a lost love.
This sample features some of the guitar mid-section, along with Elaine Caswell's vocals.
This extract from near the beginning of the song shows Dion's vocals, Bittan's grand piano, and the use of backing vocals.
This clip features the beginning of the final chorus, displaying Raven's harmonies.
|Problems playing these files? See media help.|
Influenced by Emily Brontë's novel Wuthering Heights, Steinman compared the song to 'Heathcliff digging up Cathy's corpse and dancing with it in the cold moonlight'. In the Jim Steinman Opens Pandora's Box promotional video, he posits that the novel:
is always made much too polite; it always has been in movies. This isn't the Wuthering Heights of Kate Bush -- that little fanciful Wuthering Heights. The scene they always cut out is the scene when Heathcliff digs up Catherine's body and dances in the moonlight and on the beach with it. I think you can't get much more operatic or passionate than that. I was trying to write a song about dead things coming to life. I was trying to write a song about being enslaved and obsessed by love, not just enchanted and happy with it. It was about the dark side of love; about the ability to be resurrected by it... I just tried to put everything I could into it, and I'm real proud of it.
In another interview, Steinman expands on his comments about the song being about the 'dark side of love'.
It's about obsession, and that can be scary because you're not in control and you don't know where it's going to stop. It says that, at any point in somebody's life, when they loved somebody strongly enough and that person returns, a certain touch, a certain physical gesture can turn them from being defiant and disgusted with this person to being subservient again. And it's not just a pleasurable feeling that comes back, it's the complete terror and loss of control that comes back. And I think that's ultimately a great weapon.
The website Allmusic called the song 'a tormented ballad about romantic loss and regret built on a spooky yet heart-wrenching piano melody'. The torment is present in the song's opening ('There were nights when the wind was so cold'), from which the singer recovers ('I finished crying in the instant that you left... And I banished every memory you and I had ever made'). However, the defiance in the verses are replaced by the return of the 'subservient' feelings in the chorus ('when you touch me like this, and you hold me like that...'); this juxtaposition continues throughout the song.
- 'There were those empty threats and hollow lies
- 'And whenever you tried to hurt me
- 'I just hurt you even worse and so much deeper.'
Eroticism is implied in the lines 'There were nights of endless pleasure' and 'The flesh and the fantasies: all coming back to me'. The song ends with a passionate, quiet reprise of the chorus. Critics have also identified Wagner, of whom Steinman is an admirer, as an inspiration. Specifying this song, the Sunday Times said "the theme of Wagner's opera Tristan and Isolde, with its extreme passions and obsessive love, informs all his best work."
|"It's All Coming Back to Me Now"|
|Single by Pandora's Box|
|from the album Original Sin|
|Format||7" single, 12" single, 3" CD single|
|Length||8:22 (album version)
6:32 (single edit)
|Pandora's Box singles chronology|
In 1989, Steinman produced a concept album, Original Sin, with an all-female group called Pandora's Box. The album featured many tracks that would later be recorded by other artists, particularly Meat Loaf. Elaine Caswell was the lead vocalist for "It's All Coming Back To Me Now", who apparently collapsed five times during its recording. Caswell has since performed the song as part of The Dream Engine at Joe's Pub in New York City.
For the track, Roy Bittan performed on the grand piano, with Steinman and Jeff Bova on keyboards. Guitars were by Eddie Martinez, with Steve Buslowe on bass guitar. Todd Rundgren arranged the background vocals, which were performed by Ellen Foley, Gina Taylor and Deliria Wilde. The song was released as a single in the UK during October 1989, but only reached No. 51 in the singles charts. In its review of the album, Kerrang! magazine called the song 'excruciatingly operatic'.
Ken Russell directed the video, which was filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. Steinman wrote the script, based on Russell's "Nessun Dorma" segment in the compilation opera movie Aria. Scholar Joseph Lanza describes the video:
a woman's near-death experience [from a motorcycle crash] is set amid operatic excesses and black leather. In a simulated city engulfed by an apocalyptic blaze, British vocalist Elaine Caswell sings and participates in a ritual to celebrate the song's "nights of sacred pleasure"... [The soundtstage] is stocked with gravestones, motorcycles, python and dancers (allegedly from the London production of Cats), strapped in chaps, studded bras, and spiked codpieces.
The girl, near death, is being ministered to by paramedics, fantasizing and being 'sexually aroused by a large python and writhing on a bed that lit up in time with the music, while surrounded by a group of bemused, semi-naked dancers'. When Steinman's manager saw it, he responded 'It's a porno movie!' The two-day shoot ran over schedule and budget, costing £35,000 an hour. Russell and Steinman even designed a sequence where a motorcyclist would cycle up the steps of a local church-tower, jump out of the turrets at the top, and then explode; alas, the wardens of the church refused permission.
The 7", 12" and CD singles featured Steven Margoshes's piano solo "Pray Lewd" (containing elements of "It's All Coming Back To Me Now"), Steinman's monologue "I've Been Dreaming Up A Storm Lately", and "Requiem Metal", a sample from Verdi's Requiem Mass, all from the album Original Sin.
|"It's All Coming Back to Me Now"|
|Single by Céline Dion|
|from the album Falling Into You|
|B-side||"The Power of the Dream"|
|Released||July 29, 1996|
|Format||CD single, cassette single, vinyl single|
|Recorded||The Hit Factory|
|Genre||Soft rock, adult contemporary|
|Length||7:37 (Album Version)
6:05 (Video Version)
5:31 (Radio Edit 1)
4:20 (Radio Edit 2)
|Producer||Jim Steinman, Steven Rinkoff, Roy Bittan|
Gold (Australia, New Zealand)
|Céline Dion singles chronology|
The song is the first on Dion's album Falling into You. Steinman produced the track, with Steven Rinkoff and Roy Bittan as co-producers. Bat out of Hell and Meat Loaf collaborators Todd Rundgren, Eric Troyer, Rory Dodd, Glen Burtnick and Kasim Sulton provided backing vocals. An edited version of the song was then released on Celine's album Celine Dion All The Way... A Decade Of Song. On Celine's Falling Into You album the song's original length is seven minutes and thirty-seven seconds while on her All The Way album it is only five minutes and thirty-one seconds.
In 2008, "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" was included on Dion's greatest hits compilation My Love: Essential Collection. Live performances can be found in the A New Day... Live in Las Vegas and Taking Chances World Tour: The Concert albums. Her album My Love: Essential Collection restores the song back to its original length.
The song attracted generally positive reviews. The Calgary Sun stated: "[The song] is undoubtedly the highlight of her English-language recording career. Dion's over-the-top vocals soar and swoop around Steinman's epic, ostentatious arrangement. Not surprisingly, everything else that follows... pales in comparison." Toronto's Eye Weekly said Steinman's "fatal absence from the last Meat Loaf record is finally justified here," and The Miami Herald said "Dion knocks a couple out of the ballpark... [the song] features seven minutes of Wagnerian bombast, thunderclap piano chords and emoting that would wither an opera diva. Sure, it's over-the-top but it's passionate and musical." Allmusic senior editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine marked this song as a standout along with "Falling Into You" and praised it: "Dion shines on mock epics like Jim Steinman's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now." The New York Times' Stephen Holden wrote: "The melodrama peaks with two overblown Jim Steinman productions: "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," a romantic flashback replete with thunderclaps... "
Some other reviews were less enthusiastic. After labelling Dion "a Madonna-meets-Meat Loaf vocal freak", The Vancouver Sun called the song "intensely self-indulgent, pompously self-important and mediocre beyond belief, the song just never ends." The Ottawa Sun called it 'turgid', while The Toronto Sun, coincidentally, said that it "sounds like a Meat Loaf reject." 
According to the Sunday Times, Andrew Lloyd Webber told Steinman he thought this song "the greatest love song ever written," and on hearing the Dion version reportedly said: "This will be the record of the millennium."
Nigel Dick directed the music video for Dion's version, with Simon Archer as cinematographer and Jaromir Svarc as art director. It was shot between June 29 and July 3, 1996 in the summer palace of the Austrian Emperor, Ploskovice and Barandov Studios, Prague, Czech Republic; it was later released in July 1996. Castle Ploskovice in Ploskovice supplied the exterior of the gothic mansion. There are two versions of this music video; the full version (about 7:44 in length) and the single version (about 6:00 in length). Both of them are included on Dion's 2001 DVD video collection All the Way… A Decade of Song & Video.
The video opens with a man dying in an explosive motorcycle crash, after lightning strikes a tree down in his path. Dion's character is haunted by her lover's image, which she sees through a mirror, and images of them together through picture frames. There are stylistic similarities to Russell Mulcahy's video for Steinman's "Total Eclipse of the Heart", to the extent that Slant Magazine calls Dick's video an update. Dion is seen running alone through a dark, gothic mansion, with wind blowing through the open windows.
Several versions of the CD single were released in 1996. They featured the songs "The Power of the Dream", "Le fils de Superman", "Fly", "To Love You More", and a live version of "Where Does My Heart Beat Now"; a cassette and 7" vinyl version were also released. Another CD contained several dance remixes, although these attracted negative reviews. While praising its original form, Allmusic said that 'as a dance song, it misses the mark...the final 'Moran' mix is a little better [than the other dance mixes] because the vocals don't pop up until three and a half minutes into the song'.
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (Classic Paradise radio mix #1) – 4:20
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (Classic Paradise radio mix #2) – 3:47
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (Classic Paradise mix) – 8:17
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (Moran anthem 7" edit) – 4:20
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (Moran anthem mix) – 14:38
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (Moran anthem mix part 1) – 10:32
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (Moran breakdown dub) – 9:09
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (Prophet mix) – 7:04
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (Aphrodisiac mix) – 7:47
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (Amnesia mix) – 7:33
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (radio edit #1) – 5:31
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (radio edit #2) – 6:06
- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (album version) – 7:37
Meat Loaf and Marion Raven
|"It's All Coming Back to Me Now"|
|Single by Meat Loaf featuring Marion Raven|
|from the album Bat out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose|
|Released||October 16, 2006|
|Format||CD, DVD, 7"|
|Length||6:07 (album version)
4:31 (single edit)
In interviews, Meat Loaf has said that, in his mind, the song was always meant to be a duet. It was recorded as a duet by Meat Loaf and Marion Raven for the album Bat out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose, produced by Desmond Child. Raven had been working on her solo album with Child, and was chosen because the timbre of her voice starkly contrasts to Meat Loaf's. In promotional interviews, Meat Loaf said that "I believe that the version that Marion Raven and myself did on this album is the definitive version."
Meat Loaf cried when he first heard the song, which "is the only time that's happened." He has also said that the song could refer to Steinman and himself, with an array of emotions coming back every time they work together. Referring to lines like 'when I kiss you like that', he said that although "I love Jim Steinman", he wouldn't French kiss him.
To me it wasn't a song about romance, it was about me and Jim Steinman. We'd had a load of problems with managers in the early '80s and all of a sudden after five years we started to communicate. After I'd been to his house, he sent me the song, and it was "It's All Coming Back To Me Now". Not the line 'When you kiss me like that', but the emotional connection. It doesn't have to be literal.
P. R. Brown directed this video, which premiered on VH1 Classic on August 8, 2006. There are similarities between the video for Meat Loaf's version of the song, and that the video for that of Céline Dion, with Meat Loaf being haunted by the memory of his lover. It is structured differently, however, with the story being told through flashback. Shots when Raven's character is alive have a distinct yellow tint, with a darker, blue tint for those after her death. Whereas the motorcyclist dies before the first verse in the Dion version, Raven's crash and resulting death is not shown until the final chorus. Meat Loaf becomes angry with Raven because the ghost of Raven’s former lover appears at a masquerade ball they are attending (some reviewers have compared this to the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut.)
This version of the song replaces the word 'nights' with 'lights', in the line 'There were nights of endless pleasure'. The ending of the single version is different, concluding with an additional 'We forgive and forget and it's all coming back to me now'. The album version, following those recorded by Pandora's Box and Céline Dion, ends with the female voice whispering 'And if we...', followed by four piano notes.
The track was available to download from iTunes in the UK in August 2006, two months before its UK release on October 16. The CD single includes the song "Black Betty", with the limited edition 7" featuring "Whore", a rock duet with Patti Russo; it was also released as a DVD single. The album version was made available on Meat Loaf and Marion Raven's respective MySpace sites in August, with the single version being played during some of their promotional interviews, such as that on BBC Radio 2. The cover art is by Julie Bell, who is also the artist for the album Bat out Of Hell III.
The single entered the UK charts at No. 6 on October 22, 2006, giving Meat Loaf his highest position in the UK charts since "I'd Lie For You (And That's The Truth)" reached No. 2 in 1995. Critical reaction was generally positive, with The Guardian saying that the song is "ostensibly a reflection on love, but imbued with the delicacy of aircraft carriers colliding at sea."
Marion Raven joined Meat Loaf for his 2007 tour of Europe. She was the supporting act, promoting her Set Me Free album. Meat Loaf introduced her again on stage at the latter stages of the concerts to duet on "It's All Coming Back to Me Now". A performance was recorded and released on DVD as 3 Bats Live.
|Austrian Singles Chart||17|
|Dutch Singles Chart||26|
|European Singles Chart||6|
|German Singles Chart||7|
|Norwegian Singles Chart||1|
|Swiss Singles Chart||21|
|UK Singles Chart||6|
In addition to the three major releases, the song has been recorded by other artists and used in television series. A dance version was released by Natalie Browne in the UK in 1996, released by Almighty Records. Since the release of her duet recording, Marion Raven performed the song solo, accompanied by herself on keyboards, at many of her concerts. Filipina singer Sarah Geronimo released a cover of the song on her 2003 album Popstar: A Dream Come True. Contestants of the TV show American Idol regularly perform the song. Kimberly Kelsey sang it, accompanied by a piano, in season 2. Before the listings for the album Bat III were made public, Meat Loaf performed the song in the 2006 season finale with Katharine McPhee. Haley Scarnato sang it in season 6, and David Hernandez performed it in season 7. Hernandez' version was released as a live performance single on the iTunes store in 2008, titled "It's All Coming Back to Me Now (American Idol Performance) - Single."
Filipina David Foster-Invasion, Charice Pempengco performed live with Hamden, Connecticut-based Pop/New Age artist, The 465 CT Transit driver during Newark Liberty International Airport's Arrivals Ceremony on September 30, 2013. Her version featured The 465 CT Transit driver on a Young Chang Grand Piano.
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