A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Sunday Morning Post (V.3, #17) – The Bard of the Dashboard Light

Let’s assume that every generation has to struggle with finding a way to articulate their own angst.  Surely, we’ve all had to personally deal with our own, unique way of crying out to society, “Here we are! Deal with us!”  Those who came of age in the 60s (lucky bastards) had the Beatles.  The 80s had some back and forth between the likes of Prince and Michael Jackson.   In between, we had the Bard of the Dashboard, Jim Steinman.

Steinman, who passed away last week at 73, was more than just a composer and producer of some of the most memorable songs of the late 70s.  He was able to take an adolescent ritual like dating for all of its awkwardness and send it soaring into Shakespearean legend.  Heavy guitar riffs would blister and background singers would go from singing “ooh” and “aah” to “OOH” and “AAH”.  Steinman’s productions got a reputation for its operatic mash up of rock and roll and classical music values.

Some would dismiss his productions as “pretentious FM rock”.  Whatever it was or intended to be, it got a lot of us through adolescence. 

In his memory, we will post five memorable performances of his work.

We have to start with a selection from Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell album, the quintessential multi-act “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”.

Bonnie Tyler had one of her biggest hits with Steinman’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.  Now we’ve gone from the bright hope of an intense physical relationship to doubts if the light isn’t burning out and making everything around it very, very dark.


Soft rock balladeer Barry Manilow performing Steinman?  What is the world coming to?  Actually, it is a very heartfelt, emotional performance worthy of Steinman.  The relationship has burned out; read my reasons why it’s ending and deal with it.

Readers, please note: I will acknowledge, but not post, the operatic/flaccid rock performance of Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing At All.”  It has its place in the Steinman oeuvre, but that place won’t be on this blog.

Another iconic pop star (some would say diva) with a power ballad performance to outlast all power ballad performances.  Of course, it’s Streisand paired with Steinman’s “Left in the Dark”.  Yes, by day we knock ourselves out making the all-consuming relationship of our lives work, but at night the object of our affections always seems to find something better to do and someone else to better to it with.  Admit it, honestly, we’ve all been here at least once in our lives.   And yes, “Who made the very first move?”

Meatloaf did a nice version of “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through”, but I always preferred Steinman’s own performance from his only solo recording.  So, the hell with love and all of its good/bad, and ugly accoutrements.   In the end we just need to survive, overcoming the solitary desperation of everyday life.  For if we are able to beat loneliness, then the rest of our problems should be a piece of cake (it says here).  In the meantime, we will renew our belief in music, in rock and roll, in hope that love will happen again some other day.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Steinman.

(Thank you for reading.  Really, who did make the very first move?)


Blogger uptonking said...

I knew he had his own Top 40 hit, but could not for the life of me think of it the other day. And that vid for Barbra. I remember the album clearly, as I was managing the music department at Woolworths in the IDS Tower in downtown Minneapolis when it came out and it had that wonderful duet with Kim Carnes - but I had no idea she had a video for it. What a scream. Steinman was over the top and I loved him for it. He also wrote a song that Taylor Dayne had some success with, and remember Celine covering something of his, too. How lovely to remember him. Thank you. Have a lovely. Hope you and Anne Marie are doing well.

April 25, 2021 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Ur-spo said...

I did not know half of this.

April 25, 2021 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

I had never heard of him but he was rather prolific!

April 25, 2021 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger Dave R said...

You had me until Manilow. While I was in college, I lived on the music major floor, that's right, they were all music majors. Every time I hear Manilow I remember how they ridiculed his constant key changes.

April 25, 2021 at 7:46 PM  
Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

I heard a tribute to him on the radio. I know his songs, but his name was new to me.

April 26, 2021 at 10:42 PM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Thank you, Upton. I also worked retail (hardware and such) years ago. I don't miss it.

Hi Spo. What can I say? We continue to live, we continue to learn!

He was more prolific than even I knew, Bob.

Key changes or no, Dave R., he was selling a lot of records.

Hi Debra. I should've tuned into our classic rock station last week to see if they did a tribute, but I had other things to listen to at the time.

April 27, 2021 at 7:56 AM  

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