Tell It To My Heart

Album: Tell It To My Heart (1987)
Charted: 3 7


  • This worldwide hit was Taylor Dayne's first single, catching the wave of late-'80s dance music in a song about passion and feeling - it's her heart that wants to hear that blue talk. Dayne was still known as Leslie Wunderman when she put her voice on the demo of this song, which was written by the professional songwriters Seth Swirsky and Ernie Gold. With some catchy production by Sony's Ric Wake and Clive Davis overseeing the project, it had lots of talent behind it and launched the career of Taylor Dayne, who got a record deal with Sony's subsidiary Arista Records.
  • When Seth Swirsky wrote this song, he was thinking Madonna, but when he heard Dayne sing it, he knew she was the right choice. In our interview with Seth Swirsky, he told us: "I gave them the song immediately. Didn't even think, 'Okay, people won't dig the song, maybe we should give it to another artist.' I absolutely believed then, and I believe now, that if somebody is desperate to do something, if they have a passion to do it, it comes out in the recording and there's no reason to say no to it. You've gotta go with a good flow, a good energy. And when I heard what Ric Wake had done, I thought, This sounds like a smash to me. This really sounds like a total smash."
  • This was released as a 12" single that was an instant hit, thanks to its massive popularity in dance clubs. Says Swirsky: "I think it hit San Francisco and Miami first. It really started to take off, and they had no album. They recorded the rest of the album in like six weeks, because they needed to put something out. Meanwhile, the 12-inch that was out with the four cuts of 'Tell It To My Heart' on it sold almost a million copies. It was really crazy."
  • Clive Davis is what you'd call a "record mogul," and he's known for being very good at it, developing artists like Whitney Houston, Aerosmith and Alicia Keys. Why is he an industry legend when most record execs are considered hacks? Maybe it's because he actively works with songwriters and producers to create the best product. Swirsky tells this story: "When 'Tell It To My Heart' was mastered, Clive Davis called me and said, 'I have the song. Here it is, it sounds great, we're gonna put it out.' He played it for me over the phone, and I said, 'You know, the bridge should be eight bars. And where it is right now, it's four bars.' Which would have been, like, half the bridge of what you hear now. And I said, 'You know, Clive, I can't approve this master.' And I had no rights of approving or not. He just asked my opinion, and I have a strong opinion about things. Because when it's your song, why not? You gotta fight for it, you know? I said to him, 'It's not right. The mastering sounds amazing, but we need four more bars in that bridge.'

    The bridge really needed to set the body of the song from the last third of the song. You really needed eight bars to catch your breath a little bit, and then kick into those last choruses. And he agreed. He scrapped the master, and they went for another one. It was a very, very wonderful moment, the fact that he really listened. It's a testament to him that he really listens to songwriters. He thinks that they have a real opinion, even after they've written the song. So it was a really fun moment, and I was just glad that he called me. Because that song really needed the extra four bars. I was impassioned. When we were having a hit with the song, I saw Clive, and he was like, 'You were right about that.'"
  • In 1985, Leslie Wunderman was recording 12-inch dance singles for the club market under the name "Les Lee." Two years later, a friend who used to work at Warner Chappell Publishing had them send some demos her way, and "Tell It To My Heart" was on one of the tapes. She and her producer Ric Wake loved the song, and Taylor, borrowed $6,000 from her dad to record a slick version of the song that got the attention of Clive Davis, who signed her to something called a "single-option album," which means they could drop her if the song tanked, but had rights to her if it worked.

    In our interview with Taylor Dayne, she said: "If you look at the original artwork for 'Tell It To My Heart,' I don't even have a picture on there. It's just a black cover with graffiti-esque colors of the rainbow and my name: 'Taylor Dayne.' No pic. It was released in Europe first in, I think, the summer of '87. It blew up and started going #1 throughout the rest of the world. And Clive and the rest of the company realized, 'Holy s--t, we have no record.' And 'how much can we make running singles?' They realized a phenomenon started. I'd been in Europe back and forth for the first six months of the single release, and then they released it in the United States. I was signed to a single-option album, and then that album came quicker than we thought. So did those negotiations and the changes and my career.

    Within a year's time I was opening up for Michael Jackson, who was at the height of his career with the Bad tour. And I was on the road; I remember I never came home for about 15 months."
  • With the release of this single, Leslie Wunderman was transformed into Taylor Dayne. What's it like becoming a whole new person? Taylor told us: "When I signed that dotted line and my dad gave me the money and I knew it wasn't going to happen that way anymore. There was something instinctually inside me. I just wanted to be somebody new. And at the same time you're inventing this persona. And that's what Ric and I did. And really, realistically, I don't know how we came up with Taylor Dayne. There's a long story behind that with Dee Snider and studios and what we were doing, but I guess I wanted to reinvent myself way back then. A baby book came up with 'Dayne,' but that was all based on that single and just moving forward.

    Really you're inventing something. You're creating this entity – this artist, if you will - and that's what it was. Maybe subconsciously I wanted to leave something behind and move into something, which doesn't surprise me, knowing me."
  • Seth Swirsky also wrote Taylor Dayne's next song, which was "Prove Your Love." The Arista Records machine had her do a ballad next, which was "I'll Always Love You." From there, she landed four more songs in the US Top 10, all from her first two albums. Her biggest hit came in 1989 with "Love Will Lead You Back."
  • Ever wonder how record companies promote songs to radio stations? They have to get clever, and often give out gifts that are very memorable, especially if it's an unknown artist. "Tell It To My Heart" was promoted with a candy heart.
  • In 1996, a remixed version of this song went to #23 in the UK. In 2002, Kelly Llorenna’s version of the song hit #9 on the British charts.
  • This song received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, but lost to "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman.

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 19, 1987, Taylor Dayne performed "Tell It To My Heart" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV Saturday-afternoon program, 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was in it's second of two weeks at #15 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, five weeks later it would peak at #7 {for 1 week} and it spent almost a half-year on the Top 100 {25 weeks}...
    It reached #1 in three countries; Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands...
    Between 1987 and 1993 she had ten records on the Top 100 chart, seven made the Top 10 with one reaching #1*, "Love Will Lead You Back", for one week on April 1st, 1990...
    Ms. Dayne, born Leslie Wunderman, will celebrate her 56th birthday come next March 7th {2018}...
    * She just missed having a second #1 record when her "Don't Rush Me" peaked at #2 {for 1 week} on January 15th, 1989, the week it was at #2, the #1 record for that week was "Two Hearts" by Phil Collins.
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