Jim Steinman — RIP

Productions whose epic ambitions are so strained they blow out their tires. Small town dreams mythologized into orange colors across the sky. Yep — I could have referred to Bruce Springsteen. Before Bryan Ferry and David Bowie walked into my life out of my dreams, Jim Steinman wrote and arranged the meatball anthems that Bonnie Tyler and supreme muse Meat Loaf embodied, incarnated, and concretized. Karaoke exists because Jim Steinman wrote “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Paradise By the Dashboard Light.” Brandon Flowers writes songs that are the equivalent of spangled Cuban heels thanks to Jim Steinman. I was not crazy about “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” because A/C-leaning top 40 radio in the early ’90s didn’t believe in programming that it couldn’t run through you with a drill press, but I appreciate the ambiguity of “that” (a finger up the asshole? eat peanut butter and Ritz crackers in bed?), an ambiguity Max Martin duly passed to young charges the Backstreet Boys six years later. And, as “Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back” demonstrated, Steinman remained a titan with titles.

Tyler’s “Total Eclipse” follow-up is my Steinman jam: sequencer-mad, aerobicized in its mission to find a he-man worth the piano runs, horns, sweat, and mung aimed at the audience.

4 thoughts on “Jim Steinman — RIP

  1. Sorry to hear. I enjoy your eulogy more than his work, honestly. Your’re right about Flowers. Didn’t think about it.
    But, to me, Flowers bombast evokes more a Midwertern versiĆ³n of Queen filtered thu nu disco. It bears its American inflluences in its sleeves, too. You can dance to it. And it bear making remixes off. Steinman’s sounded like ABBA trying to do a Queen poder ballaf in a gothic catedral. Not a black trace in sight, nevermind a comedic one, he made white gospel music for people who loved serious musicals and takes them seriously. Not my case. It was aural euphoria for sure. I find it a tad too hollow for my taste and can only hear the stridency of it all.

  2. Steinman was a closet eccentric who understood the average doofus on the level of PT Barnum. Springsteen Masterpiece Theatre when he was on form, high school prom bombast when he was (more likely) not. The lyric sheet to “Rock and Roll Dreams Come True” sounds like South Park taking the piss. I bet they love him in Eastern Europe.

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