R.I.P. legendary songwriter Jim Steinman

Sam Barsanti
·3 min read
Jim Steinman
Jim Steinman

As reported by Variety, songwriter, composer, and producer Jim Steinman—best known for writing all of Meat Loaf’s best songs, not to mention his work with Celine Dion, Bonnie Tyler, and Air Supply—died on Monday. A specific cause of death has not been shared, but the news was initially confirmed by the Connecticut state medical examiner and TMZ says there was a “medical emergency call” to his home earlier this week. Steinman was 73.

One of the most iconic songwriters of all time, Steinman was an undeniable master of a very specific kind of song, generally involving grand, sweeping romantic tragedies and tongue-in-cheek takedowns of traditional rock and roll ballads. “Paradise By The Dashboard Lights,” for example, is an epic ode to having sex in a car and the extremely big feeling of being a teenager in love, and it ends with the narrator of the song praying for the end of time because he’s so sick of being with the woman he promised to love forever. Similarly, “Bat Out Of Hell” is a classic “I’m going to get out of this rotten small town and be free” song, but it’s about dying in a motorcycle crash.

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Both of those are huge, bombastic songs, perfect for powerful vocalists, which is what made Steinman such a good fit for artists like Dion, Tyler, and especially Meat Loaf. The two of them met in the ‘70s, when Steinman was working on a musical called More Than You Deserve. Meat Loaf, then still Marvin Lee Aday, was cast in the show, and he and Steinman quickly became friends and collaborators. They started working on what would become Bat Out Of Hell early on in their relationship, initially basing it around a futuristic rock musical about Peter Pan, but the duo had a hard time convincing any labels to release the album—which, in retrospect, is a clear sign that Steinman was onto something that the world wasn’t ready for. Bat Out Of Hell didn’t actually start to take off until Meat Loaf started touring behind the album and footage of him performing started appearing on TV, which helped to sell what he and Steinman were going for (young Meat Loaf’s enthusiasm onstage was always difficult to ignore).

Steinman and Meat Loaf worked together multiple times over the years, on 2016's Braver Than We Are, 1981's Dead Ringer, and 1993's Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell—which produced the hit “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).” Meat Loaf also released Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose in 2006, and though Steinman wasn’t involved in its creation (leading to a legal dispute between him and Meat Loaf), it does feature a number of songs that he wrote for other projects. One of those songs, “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,” was made famous by Celine Dion a decade earlier on 1996's Falling Into You.

Steinman’s other most successful collaborator was Bonnie Tyler, with (arguably) her biggest and best songs coming from him: “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” and “Holding Out For A Hero.” She also released a single of “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad,” one of the Steinman tracks that Meat Loaf has essentially adopted into his signature song.

Detailing Steinman’s career will inevitably leave out someone’s secret favorite or guilty pleasure song, because that’s the kind of prolific songwriter and composer he was, but he also wrote the best songs from Streets Of Fire, worked on the music for the Anastasia animated film, and had a hand in hits recorded by Air Supply, The Everly Brothers, and Barbra Streisand.