Something for Thursday

 Songwriter Jim Steinman, one of the biggest contributors to the “bigger than life” aura of a lot of rock music of the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and beyond, has died. He was 73.

Steinman’s songs were the stuff of excess: in a genre where radio play discourages songs much longer than four or five minutes, Steinman filled artists’ albums with epic anthems eight, nine, even twelve minutes long. His songs were huge-sounding, too, seemingly written to take advantage of a singer’s full range (and God help a singer of limited range who tries to enter the juuuust-this-side-of-campy emotional world of a Steinman song). In Steinman’s lyrics, relationships are all about intensity and emotion and sensuality; Steinman’s songs are the stuff of wild love affairs that leave the participants in a breathless, sweaty heap, lit either by the final flickerings of the guttering candles or by the lonely lights of the car’s dashboard after a long night of…well, a long night.

Steinman’s songs may seem to be a marriage of the adolescent and the epic, but I find them wonderful just because it’s nice sometimes to remember what it all felt like in those awkward years when every emotion was a feeling large enough to tilt the world on its axis. That is what Jim Steinman captures in his best songs, that sheer, white-hot intensity of feeling that adult protestations aside, really is a lot more than just raging hormones. An inexperienced heart feels things wildly, in the kind of way of a Jim Steinman song.

While a lot of people might cite his work for Meat Loaf, my personal favorite Jim Steinman song is one he wrote for Celine Dion, “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”. It’s a song where passion and anger and rage and death and tragedy all come together, and say what you will about it, you surely have to admit that this song belongs to Celine Dion’s enormous arena-filler of a voice.

Thanks for the music, Jim Steinman.

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