Friday, March 18, 2011

One Track Mind: Jim Steinman - Left In the Dark (1981)

Jim Steinman first came to fame as Meat Loaf's songwriting collaborator on Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell album in 1977.  After a rigorous touring schedule Meat Loaf literally lost his voice.  Frustrated and growing impatient, Steinman soldiered on without Meat Loaf recording and releasing Bad For Good in 1981. 

While Left In the Dark was later covered by Barbra Streisand and Meat Loaf, I still prefer Steinman's version over either Streisand's or Meat Loaf's.  Much of this is due to Steinman's spoken word intro which was missing to the later covers.  Steinman's delivery which comes across as menacingly painful.  The sound of a man so hurt and wronged he doesn't know whether to lash out at his lover or curl into a ball and block out the world:
Where did you touch him?
And how did it feel?
How did you let it begin?
What did he whisper?
When did you cry?
And where do you think it will end?
How long did you do it?
Why did you stop?
Did you get to try anything new?
How good was he honest?
And where did you go?
And who made the very first move?
Steinman's version also excels in his vocal delivery.  There's no arguing that he lacks the range of both Meat Loaf and Streisand, often struggling to hit the same notes they both hit with ease.  But his struggles to hit some of the notes come across as emotional pain that add to the song's effectiveness, as if he's struggling to fight back the tears of the cuckolded and jilted lover.

The strings and piano add to the heart-wrenching pain of the lyrics which are some of Steinman's best:
There are no lies on your body
So take off your dress
I just wanna get at the truth
You can hear the struggle between love, pain, and hate expertly conveyed not just by Steinman's brilliant flair for lyrics but in that anthemic over the top delivery that are a trademark of so many of Steinman's songs.

All in all, Left In the Dark, is one of the most emotive and heart-wrenchingly beautifully written and performed songs I have ever heard.  But don't take my word for it, let the song speak for itself.

Song Download from Amazon (note, the song is mislabeled as "Medley" on

1 comment:

George said...

I've always admired Jim Steinman's songs: pop opera. I'll have to track LEFT IN THE DARK down.