Listening to it, one might think, With lyrics like “its in the mighty hands of steel,” this must be a song written about Optimus Prime. But no. Bush says he had never even heard of the Transformers until after the song was already finished. Bush had written it with visions in his head of other iron bodies: Sylvester Stallone and Lou Gossett Jr.
In the mid-80s, Bush was a musician and guitarist with a couple of albums to his name and no breakout hit. Inspiration struck whe Bush and the songs co-writer, Lenny Macaluso, found themselves discussing Iron Eagle, a better-off-forgotten Gossett Jr. vehicle about jet pilots.
Bush recalled the origin story to me in an interview: “Theres a scene in the movie where Gossett turns to this young pilot and says, Kid, youve got the touch, and we were like, Yeah! What a great song idea!”
They wanted to write something anthemic enough to meet one goal.
“We wrote the song with the Stallone movie Cobra in mind,” Bush said in his amiable southern drawl, picked up during his childhood in northern Florida. “We wanted to get it on the soundtrack. But the record label, they got it in the Transformers movie instead. We thought, What in the hell is that? An animated movie about robots? Really?”