Jim Steinman, Who Wrote Hit Songs For Meat Loaf And Celine Dion, Dies At 73 Closely associated with Meat Loaf, Jim Steinman also wrote over-the-top hits for Bonnie Tyler, Air Supply and Celine Dion, as well as music for the stage.

Jim Steinman, Writer Of Operatic Rock Hits For Meat Loaf And Celine Dion, Dies At 73

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/989245089/989593464" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Rock 'n' roll lost one of its most theatrical songwriters this week. Jim Steinman was a composer, lyricist and producer who worked with Meat Loaf, Celine Dion and Bonnie Tyler.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART")

BONNIE TYLER: (Singing) But now there's only love in the dark. Nothing I can say, a total eclipse of the heart.

SHAPIRO: Steinman died Monday of kidney failure. He was 73. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has this appreciation.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Jim Steinman once said, if you don't go over the top, you can't see what's on the other side. When he met the larger-than-life Meat Loaf, he said he found the singer who could sing his music the way he envisioned it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PARADISE BY THE DASHBOARD LIGHT")

MEAT LOAF: (Singing) And I never had a girl looking any better than you did. And all the kids at school, they were wishing they were me that night. And now our bodies are, oh, so close and tight. It never felt so good. It never felt so right.

BLAIR: Meat Loaf and Steinman's 1977 "Bat Out Of Hell" became one of the bestselling albums of all time. It was also audacious. The song "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" is an 8 1/2 minute three-act drama, including a play-by-play by New York Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PARADISE BY THE DASHBOARD LIGHT")

PHIL RIZZUTO: He's not letting up at all. He's going to try for second. The ball is bobbled out in center, and here comes the throw. And what a throw.

BLAIR: Steinman grew up on Long Island. He wrote his first over-the-top musical in college at Amherst. "Dream Engine" was three hours long and performed largely in the nude. It also launched his career. Renowned New York theater producer Joseph Papp came to see it and signed a deal with Steinman during intermission. Jay Scheib, who directed "Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical," says Steinman liked working outside the rules.

JAY SCHEIB: He was really interested in pushing whatever form of artistic expression he could find, to the point where it would sort of explode.

BLAIR: Jim Steinman also loved great classic stories. His favorite was "Peter Pan." Jay Scheib says, in many ways, Steinman was himself one of the Lost Boys. Steinman said as much in a speech he gave at Amherst in 2013.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JIM STEINMAN: I was nobody, really. I really wasn't anybody. I say that not glibly. I didn't know who I was.

BLAIR: Steinman said all that changed in 1968, when he wrote an article for the school newspaper. It was an article about rock 'n' roll, politics, doing drugs, philosophy. His writing was full of drama, foreshadowing the music he would go on to create for audiences around the world.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PARADISE BY THE DASHBOARD LIGHT")

MEAT LOAF: (Singing) So I can end my time with you. It was long ago, and it was far away. And it was so much better that it is today. Well, it was long ago, and it was far away. And it was so much better that it is today. It was long ago, and it was far away. And it was so much better than it is today. And it was long ago, and it was far away. And it was so much better than it is today. It was long ago, and it was far away. And it was so much better than it is today. It was long ago, and it was far away. And it was so much better...

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.