We lost one of the all-time great songwriters this week in Jim Steinman. Perhaps best known for his partnership with Meat Loaf on the power vocalist’s best work, Steinman had this grand, epic scale to his songwriting that felt like a weird fusion between stage musicals and rock and roll. I know rock operas are a thing and this was a concept that had been toyed with long before Steinman, but there was just something wholly operatic about his songs. Here are my favourites.
I’D DO ANYTHING FOR LOVE – MEAT LOAF
Jim Steinman was probably my first encounter with the concept of a songwriter as a kid. My dad played a lot of Meat Loaf for me, put some on a mix-tape, and I remember him saying something about Jim Steinman, so I asked who that was, and he said “Oh, he wrote all these songs.” I mean, 7-year-old me knew songs had to be written, I grasped that much, but I just kind of assumed the person/people singing wrote the songs. So my mind was blown that there was, or could be, another person involved in crafting these songs. And that’s when I really started paying attention to the lyrics of songs. And it was Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” that did it for me. I wanted to share the Michael Bay-directed official music video, because it’s great, but it’s the 7min41sec version. You do really need the full 12-minute version to do the song justice.
IT’S ALL COMING BACK TO ME NOW – CELINE DION
This song goes hard. For its full 7min39sec full version, this song goes hard. This whole fucking song just fills every inch of every room you play it in. And Celine Dion had this big powerful voice to match Steinman’s writing and production. And this was just before she just demolished the world with “My Heart Will Go On.” The alternating between bombast and tenderness is a Steinman trademark, and Dion just crushes it. This was originally done by Pandora’s Box, a girl group Steinman put together and produced in the late 80s, but the track didn’t come alive until Celine sank her teeth into it.
TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART – BONNIE TYLER
Not nearly as storied or heralded as his partnership with Meat Loaf, but Steinman’s work with Bonnie Tyler to turn out a few hits of its own, including “Holding Out For A Hero” from Footloose, and the recently re-popular “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
MAKING LOVE OUT OF NOTHING AT ALL – AIR SUPPLY
Soft rock champions Air Supply took a ride on the Steinman train for the power ballad that, while not their signature song, is still one of their biggest hits. Fun fact, it features Rick Derringer on guitar and Max Weinberg on drums.
BAT OUT OF HELL – MEAT LOAF
I went back and forth between this and Heaven Can Wait for the fifth and final entry on my list. But I have such affinity for “Bat Out Of Hell.” There was a cuss word in the title! Seven-year-old me LOVED that I could sing a long with a cuss word song, so I jammed to this a lot as a wee lad.
All good tunes. I would probably have bumped “Bat Out of Hell” for “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”