Waxing Nostalgic Connecting The Dots: Jim Steinman, “Bad for Good”

Published on November 6th, 2013 in: Music, Waxing Nostalgic |

By Jeffery X Martin


Let us now sing the praises of those who have gone previously unsung.

I didn’t get to see my sister, Winter, much when I was a kid. My dad’s daughter, she lived across the river in mysterious Ohio. I would get to see her once or twice a month. After she began driving and discovered the mysterious joys of high-school penis, it was even less than that. She was the one, however, who took me to see not only Purple Rain, but Grease 2. I’m not sure which one made more of an impact. Sure, Apollonia Kotero had amazing breasts, but I still remember all the words to “Reproduction” and “Do It for Your Country” from Grease 2.

Puberty sucks. Everything leaves its mark.

Winter’s musical taste tended towards the progressive and theatrical. I have never known anyone else, even to this day, who has owned a Marillion album. Winter did. She had every Electric Light Orchestra record. She had a love for the concept album that most certainly informed my own. There was one album in particular . . . and we’re getting to it.

Let us now also sing the praises of those who write that also sing, yet never quite become household names.

You’ve heard Jim Steinman’s songs, even if you’ve never heard of Steinman himself. This is the man who wrote Meat Loaf’s seminal album, Bat out of Hell. He wrote “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” which was a huge hit for Bonnie Tyler. Air Supply’s “Making Love out of Nothing at All” was his. He wrote the songs for Ellen Aim and the Attackers in the cult favorite movie, Streets of Fire.

It’s not like these are sweet little pop songs, just the perfect length for radio airplay. Steinman writes epics. They’re the show tunes for the Broadway in your mind. If a normal pop song is like a quick peck on the cheek, a Jim Steinman song is a limo ride to a fancy restaurant, a lobster dinner, a ride around town with the top down, four bottles of champagne, a penthouse suite and a night full of sweaty weird lovemaking, with some color Polaroids of the evening as a souvenir.

Steinman took center stage with his overlooked masterpiece, 1981’s Bad for Good. This album is as close to opera as you will ever find my ears. Beginning with the intense orchestral piece, “The Storm,” which whips right into the title track**, Bad for Good resonates with a structured showmanship so vivid, it’s practically holographic. Every song was designed to be the best song on the album. What do you need? A dance song? A ballad? A rocker? It’s all here, boys and girls. Step right up.

The song, “Bad for Good,” is one of the most joyous odes to rebellion ever recorded. Steinman paints himself as the Ultimate Bad-Ass, luring virgins to their little deaths, refusing to entertain even the slightest notions of redemption or behavior modification.

“I know that I’m gonna be like this forever/I’m never gonna be what I should/And you think that I’ll be bad for just a little while/But I know that I’ll be bad for good.”

It’s the anthem of the Invincible Teenager, driving too fast with the windows down and the radio up. It’s the joy of living too fast. It’s that rush of knowing what you are and embracing it, societal norms and family mores be damned.

“Bad for Good” helped solidify some ideas that were already forming in my head. Everyone has that moment where you start to wonder if there’s more to the world than what you know of it. Jim Steinman told me, directly, with that song, that the answer was abso-fucking-lutely yes. The world is huge and there are experiences ripe for the plucking if you’ll just be brave enough to pluck them.

I used to be a sweet child.

I think my sister knew better. I think she saw that glint in my eye. I think she smelled trouble. Instead of doing the right thing, and trying to quash me and nip those tendencies in the bud, she did the responsible thing. She gave me Jim Steinman.

**When Bad for Good was originally released on vinyl, it came with a bonus 45 that included the songs, “The Storm” and “Rock and Roll Dreams Come True.” We always played “The Storm” first, put on the LP, then played “Rock and Roll Dreams Come True” last. The CD doesn’t keep the album in that order. I still think my way is best, because why wouldn’t I? Try it both ways and see which you prefer.

Listen to “Bad for Good” and other songs from the Waxing Nostalgic series on our Waxing Nostalgic Playlist, only on Spotify! Subscribe and keep with all the new old stuff!

2 Responses to “Waxing Nostalgic Connecting The Dots: Jim Steinman, “Bad for Good””

  1. Chelsea:
    November 6th, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    You’ve seen the Meat Loaf One Week One Band, yes?

  2. Winter:
    November 6th, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    I remember those day. I miss them. Jim had a lot of influence in My life, still does, which is why I wanted to share it with you. Jim also worked with Andrew Loyd Webber on Whistle Down the Wind, which is also an awesome Musical. But if I was to list everything Jim did, you would need a separate page just for my comment. lol But in any sense Jim was the king of ” how to be a teen bad ass” songs.

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