Thursday, April 22, 2021

Bat Out Of Hell

If you ask TigerBlog what the most creative album he's ever heard, he'll give you an answer without hesitation.

It's not the best album he's ever heard, though it is close to the top. It's not, for instance, "Born To Run" or "Darkness On The Edge Of Town," TB's two favorite Springsteen albums.

Even as great as they are, though, there is an album whose sheer creativity eclipses even those two. What is the album?

"Bat Out Of Hell," by Meat Loaf. 

TigerBlog remembers when he first heard the album, and he was blown away by it immediately. The first song from the album he heard was "Paradise By The Dashboard Light," and he literally stopped what he was doing to try to figure out what in the world he was listening to.

The entire album is amazing. There are seven songs, and they average just short of seven minutes each. The longest is the title track, which goes for 9:48, all of it riveting. "For Crying Out Loud" goes for 8:45.

"Paradise By The Dashboard Light" is next at 8:28 and features play-by-play in the middle from Phil Rizzuto. "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)" begins with a dialogue about a wolf with red roses who does not appear anywhere else in the song.

It's creative all right. It's poetic lyrics mixed with powerful, operatic music. 

TigerBlog once told the guy who wrote it all that he was a genius. The response? A glance and a very, very tiny hint of a smile.

The "guy" was Jim Steinman, who passed away yesterday at the age of 73. His other credits included writing "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" for Bonnie Tyler and "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All" for Air Supply. His song "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" for Celine Dion is on the album "Falling into Me," for which he won a Grammy.

He also wrote "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young," which TB would call the best song that almost nobody has ever heard. It's from the 1984 movie "Streets of Fire," and as soon as TB heard it, he knew it sounded an awful lot like something Jim Steinman would have done.

TigerBlog met Jim Steinman at a men's basketball game at Columbia University. He was there with Princeton, who played in Levien Gym that night.

Long before the game started, TB was introduced to a man sitting courtside. He had long gray hair in a pony tail, with blue jeans and a leather jacket.

"This is my brother Jim," Bill Steinman said. 

That's when TB told Jim Steinman he was a genius. 

Bill Steinman was the longtime Columbia sports information director. He's one of the legends of Ivy League athletic communications, and he was at Columbia when TB was in the newspaper business and when he started at Princeton.

By the way, that was a glorious era for SIDs in the Ivy League, with among others Steinman at Columbia, the late-great Kathy Slattery at Dartmouth, John Veneziano at Harvard, Dave Wohlhueter at Cornell, Chris Humm at Brown and Steve Conn at Yale, not to mention Chuck Yrigoyen at the league office itself. 

Of that entire group, the only one still working in the league is Steve Conn, after the retirement last summer of Humm. Conn and Dartmouth assistant Cyndi Mansell are the only currently working in the league who have been at their school longer than TB has been at Princeton.

TB always loved going to Columbia, where he'd see Steinman and AP write Bill Shannon, who passed away a few years ago. For a few years, TB didn't realize the connection between Bill and his brother. He learned about it long before that night he met Jim in New York City, and it was interesting to see Bill and his world-famous sibling together.

When TB saw the story about Jim Steinman's passing, it mentioned Bill, who confirmed his brother's death. 

It also had this quote: "I miss him a great deal already."


Pete McHugh said...

Thanks for this memory. I never met Jim but when I was working with Bill at Columbia, Bill would tell me almost every day that he talked with Jim on the phone the night before, usually remarking about the Yankees or Mets. May Jim's memory be a blessing.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the shout out of how old I am TB,

cindi from Dartmouth.