Legendary songwriter Jim Steinman, best known for writing Meat Loaf's 1977 masterpiece, the 14-times-platinum Bat Out Of Hell, died on April 19th at age 73 in Connecticut, reportedly of kidney failure, according to Billboard. Steinman, who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012, will forever be remembered the instant Meat Loaf classics “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad,” “Paradise By The Dashboard Light,” “You Took the Words Right Out Of My Mouth” and Meat's sole chart-topper 1993's “I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That),” from the 1993 Steinman-penned and produced Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell.
Meat Loaf paid tribute to his longtime collaborator on social media, posting photos of the two through the years and writing, simply: “Coming here soon, My brother Jimmy. Fly Jimmy Fly.”
In addition to his work with Meat Loaf, Steinman wrote such major chart hits as Bonnie Tyler's 1983 Number One, “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” as well as co-writing her 1984 “Holding Out For A Hero” track from 1984's Footloose soundtrack. Among the rock heavyweights that Steimnan enlisted for the “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” backing track were guitarist Rick Derringer, and the E Street Band's pianist Roy Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg — both of whom first worked with Steinman on 1977's Bat Out Of Hell.
Steinman also wrote Air Supply's 1983 Top Two smash, “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All,” and Celine Dion's 1996 hit “It's All Coming Back to Me Now,” which also peaked at Number Two.
Bat Out Of Hell producer Todd Rundgren told us that during the original album sessions he was trying to break new ground despite Jim Steinman writing the songs in a very strict form: “A lot of it was extremely derivative. Y'know, of just old fashioned. . . (sings rock riff) — rock n' roll — (sings rock riff). He was just trying to figure out a way to take that really rudimentary, sort of rock n' roll thing, and make it grandiose, without making it necessarily more musically inaccessible.”
Meat Loaf recalled there being friction between Rundgren and Steinman during the Bat sessions: “He gave Jim a hard time. But Jim is kinda, like, a duck in water. He may have gone home and cry and roll around on the floor — but when you're in the room with him, anything anybody says negatively, or anything like that, Jim just kinda giggles and goes on.”
Ultimately, Todd Rundgren always rated Jim Steinman's songs as being a perfect slice of American rock: “I always thought Steinman, y'know, what made him great was he has a very strict, kind of, harmonic approach, which I always characterized as being the Stephen Foster of rock n' roll. I always think of his sensibility as being more close to, like, a kinda, (Jerry) Leiber-(Mike) Stoller thing, or something like that. Almost closer to an R&B formula. It's about the accessibility of it. You don't try to write above the head of your audience.”
Despite some well-received work over the years, Meat Loaf will always be best remembered for Bat Out Of Hell. He told us that the album has grown beyond a successful '70s album into a full-blown cultural phenomenon: “It's no longer about me. It belongs to you, and you create your own stories, and you create your own place in time for that record. Everything is geared so that when you hear it, you're funneled right into that speaker, and it becomes a visual of your life as opposed to a visual of my life.”
Meat Loaf told us that whether it was Jim Steinman's songs on Bat Out Of Hell or his latest set, 2016's Braver Than We Are, Steinman's music resonates with Meat in a way no other writer has or ever will: “It's about Jim's songs. And they become my songs because I read them like scripts and I back-story every character, and every character on Bat was back-storied. Every character on everything is back-storied. This record was back-storied more than any other record, ever. Jimmy's never told me why he's wrote a song — and I've never asked him. And he's never asked me about my characters. The only thing he ever says to me is: 'You're singing the wrong melody' (laughs).”