A Bat Out Of Hell Who Whistles

by , Courant Java Columnist
Hartford Courant

Jim Steinman, 2007
Hit-maker Jim Steinman is best known
for his music of Meat Loaf's "Bat Out Of Hell."
(MARYELLEN FILLO) (source: Hartford Courant)

Record producer, composer and lyricist Jim Steinman stopped by Hartford this week to catch the opening night of "Whistle Down The Wind," which is playing at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday. He wrote the lyrics for the show's music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Steinman, 59, an avid Yankees fan, is best known for his music on Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell" album. The 1977 album's title became the subject of a legal battle between Steinman and Meat Loaf, and was eventually resolved in an out-of-court settlement. Steinman is also known for a slew of hit singles for other performers, including Air Supply's "Making Love Out of Nothing at All," Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," as well as his musical "Tanz der Vampire," which is still playing in Berlin, Germany.

A free spirit easily recognized by his signature mop of unruly hair, Steinman took time out from dinner at Bin 228 to Spill the Beans with Java.

Q: "Bat Out of Hell" to "Whistle Down the Wind" is quite a musical journey. Which music do you like better?

A: It's all the same to me. I never think about style. I wrote "Bat Out of Hell" one way and the lyrics for "Whistle Down the Wind" another. I love classical music. I grew up with it. Opera was my first love, and rock 'n' roll. I used to listen to Little Richard after Wagner. The L.A. Times, in their first review of me and Meat Loaf, called me Little Richard Wagner and that became the name of my company.

Q: How are you and Meat Loaf getting along since the legal fallout. Are you still on each other's Christmas card lists?

A: We were never on each other's Christmas card lists. We were never that close. We were close the first four years when "Bat Out of Hell," the first one, came out in 1977. By the next year, I was totally apart from him. I had a copyright on the title. I still have the copyright but waived it so Meat Loaf could do "Bat Out of Hell III."

Q: So what's next, music-wise?

A: I'm doing a musical in London called "Bat Out of Hell," which is based on all the "Bat Out of Hell" songs. That is what I traded off with Meat Loaf in the suit. The play will probably open in London in 2009. It's like Cirque du Soleil on acid. It is very spectacular.

Q: Is this the first time you have been to Hartford?

A: I was in a band in college called Sundance and we opened for a band called Cream in 1970 at the Bushnell.

Q: What is your favorite song in the show?

A: "No Matter What" is my favorite one. It was No. 1 everywhere except America. And that's because Mercury Records went bankrupt. Theoretically, I could put it out again.

Q: Your music is so tragic. Was your heart stomped on at some time?

A: I have never been stomped on literally. Figuratively. I am stomped on every day ... anyway, that is the way I feel sometimes. I've never had my heart broken the way you are talking about. I've never been dumped ... but probably because I don't allow myself to be dumped.

Q: What about those Yankees? Will they go to the World Series?

A: It is fantastic season. I love the Yankees, but I doubt they are going to the World Series. They can beat the L.A. Angels and they can beat the Red Sox now, but I don't think they are quite there for the Series. A-Rod is my favorite player.

Q: You're a libertarian. Who do you support in the next presidential election?

A: Yeah, that is pretty true. If it comes to it I will support a Democrat, probably Hillary or Obama. I'd like it to be Obama, although Hillary is better than Bush.

Q: Who does your hair?

A: It's obvious no one does. Just me.

Q: What do you like about the fact that "Whistle Down the Wind" still does capture an audience? As you head toward 60, how do you top what you have accomplished?

A: "Whistle Down the Wind" means a lot to me. ... I've been in music since 1972. I'm 59. I haven't done all I wanted to do yet. I have too long a list. But I want to write something really great of all times. Not necessarily music. Just something that really matters. "Bat Out of Hell" did that, I guess, but I want to do more.