Thoughts & Essays

Meat Loaf, Jim Steinman, & Learning About Your Favorites

I’m pretty sure I stumbled across Meat Loaf because of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I watched Rocky Horror with a friend who was a fan of Meat Loaf and pointed him out to me as Eddie, and mentioned his Bat Out Of Hell album, and that caused me to go find the album. Which I loved.

I want to say this wasn’t terribly long before Bat Out Of Hell II came out. A year before, two at the most. Bat Out Of Hell II was also fantastic.

I loved a lot of things about these albums – the epic, symphony-style rock opera sound, Meat Loaf’s voice, the fact that the albums both had themes and all the songs were sort of working together to tell a whole story. I think what I loved most about them was their ridiculousness, and how seriously they took that ridiculousness.

I mean, this is the big rock ballad from Bat Out Hell II, and just look at this thing. It’s all gothic and Dracula and operatic and Beauty and the Beast and Hunchback of Notre Dame here, and it’s absolutely ridiculous and totally earnest and sincere about it.

How can you not love something like that?

A few years later I figured out that almost everything I loved about these two albums was due to Jim Steinman, who died early in 2021. I mean, I loved Meat Loaf’s voice, but I’d looked up some of the guy’s other, non-Jim Steinman albums, and they were pretty blah. Meat Loaf could still sing, but the music was nothing special.

Jim Steinman is one of those musicians where once you know his style, you hear him in everything he does. He did Total Eclipse of The Heart, for instance.

He also did Air Supply’s Making Love Out Of Nothing At All.

Both are great examples of the whole “Oh, yep, that’s a Jim Steinman song” thing.

But I didn’t really know any of that until years, maybe decades later. What I knew, back when I owned Bat Out Of Hell and Bat Out Of Hell II on cassette tape in the early 90s, was that I loved Meat Loaf’s voice singing these songs. They have a special little spot in my heart.

Meat Loaf was a bit of a dick, apparently. I’ve never been the type of music fan that obsessively learns about their favorite musicians and reads everything about them, so I don’t know a lot about Meat Loaf, but my impression is that he’s the reason he and Jim Steinman had a big falling out and never worked together much. He was pissy about pandemic measures, too.

I actively try to avoid learning too much about any star, really. You’re not often going to be happy about what you find, and sometimes that ruins their art. Example: Alice Cooper. I used to fucking love Alice Cooper and everything he did. By all reports, he’s a hell of a nice guy and a genuinely decent person. He’s also a Republican and a fan of George W. Bush. Y’know, the war criminal. And now, every time I listen to his music, the fact that he stans a war criminal is right up front in my brain. Goddammit.

That happens a lot. I can’t watch Lethal Weapon anymore because Mel Gibson is a gigantic fuckstain. Kevin Spacey – huge nope. Harry Potter books. Used to love those. J.K. Rowling is a big dumb terf who shits on trans people constantly.

But, so far as I know, Jim Steinman was cool. Please don’t tell me if he wasn’t, because I fucking love these albums.