The new episode of Hit Parade is delirious. Chris Molanphy is a music nerd’s nerd, and his deep, deep dives into particular moments in Billboard chart history never cease to amaze for their exhaustive research and nearly giddy narration. That makes Hit Parade consistently enjoyable, but then you get these episodes that feature music that lives somewhere in your own personal history, and it unlocks a whole other chamber of delight.
Bat Out of Hell came out before I turned two. I never heard a note of it growing up, but, after our family went all-in on church–faith healing, tongue speaking church, understand–, the album cover gave me nightmares. What scared me most was that it lived in my aunt’s bedroom, and her possession of it meant she was surely headed in the wrong direction with respect to the album’s infernal locale.
The episode is about Jim Steinman, a name I’d never heard before, but the songwriter behind Bat Out of Hell. And “Total Eclipse of The Heart” and “Making Love Out of Nothing At All,” both songs I obsessed over in adolescence. Meat Loaf’s revival in 1993 dominated my junior year of high school, and “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” is all Steinman. He’s also responsible for “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,” and if I’ve never confessed to my adolescent Celine Dion crush on the blog before, well . . .
Back to my aunt. 10 years my senior, she was Molly Ringwald, all red-haired and smoking and dancing and rolling her eyes through the Reagan administration. She introduced me to the Footloose soundtrack before she showed me the movie, and its songs found receptive terrain in my eight year-old brain. In particular, I was fascinated by Bonnie Tyler’s desperately scratchy “Holding Out for A Hero.” To this day, the sound of the operatic “Do-do-do-dooos” that open that song take me back to my aunt and grandmother’s small apartment in Fort Collins. Jim Steinman wrote that song too.
This post is nothing more than an endorsement of Hit Parade. You should be listening to it for pop music trivia, but, more importantly, for storytelling that may remind you of some dear figure from your past whose musical tastes formed you in ways you were unaware of, and you will be grateful.