Big Voice, Big Performances, Big Personality: RIP Meat Loaf

Well, after writing a couple of themed posts, I fully intended to use this week’s effort to pay tribute to some of the people from the world of film and music we’ve already lost this year. First there was Sidney Poitier, then Ronnie Spector, and last week R. Dean Taylor, all of whom have appeared around here over the years in some guise. But I’m a music blogger of a certain vintage and the artists I grew up listening to are inevitably now of an even older vintage and we are losing them at an alarming rate. Few of us yesterday could have failed to notice who else has just been added to the growing list of ‘those we have lost in 2022’.

RIP Meat Loaf 1947-2022

He hailed from a big state, and was a big man with a big voice who gave big performances. Marvin Lee Aday is not a name many of us would have been familiar with but when you mention the name Meat Loaf, all that changes. The amount of time dedicated to him on mainstream news channels yesterday proved that. The last tribute I wrote was about another man from Texas, Mike Nesmith. He was primarily a singer who became an actor. Meat Loaf was primarily an actor who became a singer, and it showed. Like long-term collaborator Jim Steinman (who sadly died last year) he had a background in musical theatre, so when they came to making their first album together, Bat Out of Hell, it was very much in that vein – a tough sell to record companies in the mid-1970s.

Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf:


Considering it was such a tough sell, it’s remarkable to think that it’s now clocked up over 500 weeks on the UK Albums Chart and sold over 43 million copies worldwide. (I have a feeling those numbers will now rise for a time as always happens after the sudden death of a much-loved artist).

We often go in circles around here and it wasn’t lost on me that my original plan to write about Ronnie Spector today could possibly have led to Bat Out of Hell anyway. Working in the opposite direction, The Meat Loaf album is often compared to the music of Bruce Springsteen, and in particular his album Born to Run. Bruce’s album is often noted for it’s Phil Spector-like ‘Wall of Sound’ arrangements and production, used so effectively when recording Ronnie’s albums with the Ronettes. Others may choose to disagree, but I’m buying that connection.

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad by Meat Loaf:


The album cover for Bat Out of Hell is a very familiar one to most of us of a certain age as even if we didn’t own it ourselves (I never did), we had friends who would have done. Here is where the ‘memory’ part of this post comes in. Back in 1978 when the album was unleashed on an unsuspecting nation, I had just finished school and moved into the city to start life as a student. The familiar routines had all gone, the school boyfriend and I had parted company for a time, and many of my friends had moved elsewhere in the country. Some thrive on such new beginnings, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I didn’t, and was a bit of a lost soul that first term.

By good fortune, my across-the-corridor neighbour in our halls of residence came from a village only about 10 miles from where I grew up. By a quirk of geography she had gone to a different secondary school but it turned out she knew a lot of people from my village and we soon became friends, always heading to the dining hall together for meals (very scary to enter that cavernous hall on your own – some risked starvation as they avoided it completely). When we weren’t studying we often visited each other’s rooms and although I had brought my cassette player from home, she had her record player and the album Bat Out of Hell. We listened to it often and I seem to remember the combination of Meat Loaf, a bit too much Leibfraumilch, and falling down the steps to our corridor one evening, led to a trip to A&E for me the following morning. It turned out to be just a sprain, but I felt bad, as although my exams had already finished, my new friend (who came with me) had one that afternoon. I think she did ok however as she spent much of her time in the hospital waiting area revising.

Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meat Loaf with Karla DeVito:


Music wise, I’ve barely scratched the surface here but despite not making any money from that first album (a common theme it seems for 1970s artists), Meat Loaf continued to make new albums for decades to come, so made up for it later in life. There were fallings out with Jim Steinman who understandably felt as the creative force behind the albums he was being overlooked, but fortunately they made up down the line. The pair of them will possibly be up there right now, contemplating Bat Out of Hell IV. (A bit of a contradiction in terms!)

Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman

As for me, the loss of Meat Loaf will not affect me greatly, but as ever you feel for their family and friends who will miss them immensely. Is it because we are all getting older ourselves that we start to wonder when we will be at that age when never a week goes by without losing someone from our personal lives. It’s getting closer all the time and things I had never contemplated when I started this blog only six years ago (wills and pensions) have started to rear their heads.

When we lose someone from the world of music however, we can’t help but remember what we were doing when they released their seminal album, and I have enjoyed revisiting that time when my new friend and I were 18-year-old freshers, and a bit wet behind the ears. The album was played at many a party that year (when we plucked up courage to go) but I will remember it most from those evenings spent in her student room – Haven’t seen her for nearly 40 years so perhaps time to visit ‘the socials’ and see what she’s up to.

Until next time… RIP Meat Loaf.

Bat Out Of Hell Lyrics
(Song by Jim Steinman)

The sirens are screaming and the fires are howling
Way down in the valley tonight.
There’s a man in the shadows with a gun in his eye
And a blade shining, oh, so bright.
There’s evil in the air and there’s thunder in sky,
And a killer’s on the bloodshot streets.
Oh, and down in the tunnel where the deadly are rising,
Oh, I swear I saw a young boy down in the gutter,
He was starting to foam in the heat.

Oh, baby, you’re the only thing in this whole world,
That’s pure and good and right.
And wherever you are and wherever you go,

There’s always gonna be some light.
But I gotta get out,
I gotta break it out now,
Before the final crack of dawn.
So we gotta make the most of our one night together.
When it’s over you know,
We’ll both be so alone.

Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.
When the night is over
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone-gone-gone.
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.
But when the day is done, and the sun goes down,
And the moonlight’s shining through,
Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven,
I’ll come crawling on back to you.

I’m gonna hit the highway like a battering ram
On a silver black phantom bike.
When the metal is hot and the engine is hungry,
And we’re all about to see the light.
Nothing ever grows in this rotting old hole.
And everything is stunted and lost.
And nothing really rocks
And nothing really rolls
And nothing’s ever worth the cost.

And I know that I’m damned if I never get out,
And maybe I’m damned if I do,
But with every other beat I’ve got left in my heart,
You know I’d rather be damned with you.

Well, if I gotta be damned you know I wanna be damned
Dancing through the night with you.
Well, if I gotta be damned you know I wanna be damned—
Gotta be damned, you know I wanna be damned—
Gotta be damned, you know I wanna be damned
Dancing through the night—
Dancing through the night—
Dancing through the night with you.

Oh, baby, you’re the only thing in this whole world,
That’s pure and good and right.
And wherever you are and wherever you go,
There’s always gonna be some light.
But I gotta get out,
I gotta break it out now,
Before the final crack of dawn.
So we gotta make the most of our one night together.
When it’s over you know
We’ll both be so alone.

Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.
When the night is over
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone gone gone.
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.
But when the day is done and the sun goes down,
And the moonlight’s shining through,
Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven,
I’ll come crawling on back to you.
Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven,
I’ll come crawling on back to you.

I can see myself tearing up the road
Faster than any other boy has ever gone.
And my skin is raw but my soul is ripe.
No one’s gonna stop me now,
I’m gonna make my escape.
But I can’t stop thinking of you,
And I never see the sudden curve until it’s way too late.

And I never see the sudden curve ’til it’s way too late.

Then I’m dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun.
Torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike.
And I think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell.
And the last thing I see is my heart
Still beating,
Breaking out of my body and flying away,
Like a bat out of hell.

Then I’m dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun.
Torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike.
And I think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell.
And the last thing I see is my heart
Still beating, still beating,
Breaking out of my body and flying away,
Like a bat out of hell.
Like a bat out of hell.
Like a bat out of hell.
Oh, like a bat out of hell!
Like a bat out of hell!
Like a bat out of hell!

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

16 thoughts on “Big Voice, Big Performances, Big Personality: RIP Meat Loaf”

  1. Sad postscript on Meat Loaf: He died of COVID, and was an anti-vaxxer.

    At the moment the main reason the pandemic is continuing is because people who could be vaccinated are not, usually because they believe some sort of really absurd stuff. Sad. So with that in mind it’s worth making a joke at his expense. Perhaps he discussed vaccination with someone he loved, but then said “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that”. 😦

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    1. We don’t know for sure so I’ll not pass judgement.

      Is it too soon for a joke at his expense? Not sure, but the title of his most successful song certainly led to many jokes back in the day.

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  2. Alyson, like you I’m a bit overwhelmed by the sudden speed of music artists deaths announced in 2022. R Dean Taylor was from Toronto, the metropolis in Canada that has been ‘just down the road’ for 58 of my 73 years. He is reportedly the first ‘white’ artist signed to a Berry Gordy label. Always a soft spot for him whenever one of his songs is heard. Ronnie Spector was certainly a fantasy for many teenage boys in the mid 60s. Trust me, it wasn’t just the Phil Spector Wall of Sound. “Looks” mattered to teenage boys!
    Meat Loaf came along a decade later. While I love musical theatre, my I taste at that time was more conventional (JC Superstar, Tommy, Evita, Godspell). I had a hard time imagining “Paradise by the Dashboard” on stage. Isn’t it interesting that later in the century, Meat Loaf’s collaborator, Jim Steinman, joined up with Andrew Lloyd Webber for “Whistle Down The Wind”.
    The best pop songs, IMHO, create a theatre event in your mind in three minutes or less. Meat Loaf took a little more time, which hurt him on Top 40 Radio but didn’t with the developing audience for LPs.
    My uni years were ‘reel to reel’ instead of cassette and the music was Chicago, Led Zepplin and Carole King instead of Meat Loaf but the memories of good friends and shared experiences are similar. I hope those that followed us,regardless of the artists and the technology, also have pleasant memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly feels like there could be a steady stream of losses this year. I didn’t really know until much later that R. Dean Taylor became known in the UK because of Northern Soul, and that he was a white artist signed to Motown. I loved chart music but we had access to so little info about the artists with hit records in the charts. As for Ronnie, she certainly was cute as a button back in the 60s and had a liveliness to her that must have appealed to males of the species.

      As for Meat Loaf, yes more than musical theatre, but more rock opera. Didn’t realise Jim had teamed up with ALW for Whistle Down the Wind. He certainly was talented. I enjoyed watching the clip of Paradise above – I always enjoyed it when he teamed up with a woman on songs.

      Yes, about every 10 years the technology changes so not sure what the students of today would listen to together – I have an awful feeling it might be nothing, as everyone is now locked in their own little bubble, listening to their own choices on Spotify using earbuds. Personally I think they are missing out bigtime but they have a back catalogue spread over 60 years to choose from nowadays (the start of the rock and pop era) which we just didn’t have when we were young. Like with telly nowadays, I doubt if they ever listen to the same album, on repeat, with another, as we did. A shame really.

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    1. Once cassette recorders and even better, music centres came about, only one person had to buy the album and then it was liberally shared for home taping. They complain about downloads nowadays but back then most young people owned at least 10-20 home recorded albums for every purchased one – Or maybe that was just me!? Don’t think so.

      Yep, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad very hookable.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi. Another celebrity who passed away this year is Bob Saget, an actor and comedian. I was surprised by the huge amount of attention that his passing garnered in the USA. I’m not sure if he was known very much in other parts of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had never heard of Bob Saget and don’t think he’s very well known here. Just looked him up though and it seems he narrated the show How I Met Your Mother which I do sometimes watch. He was pretty young.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d got out of the habit of late of writing about ‘music and memories’ (pesky pandemic) – Trying to get this blog back on track again.

      Yes, in my late teens I thought Bat Out of Hell was pretty amazing and think it still stands up today.

      Like

  4. Oh yes, I too remember how nerve-wracking it was to walk into the dining room on my own in my early days at university in the autumn of 1978. Sometimes I would stay in my room and have a Pot Noodle – a new and exciting development in food at that time! I certainly didn’t have the nerve to get involved with the university radio station – but by my third year I was doing what would now be called the drivetime show on Fridays (not that many students could afford a car). I remember once playing Bat Out Of Hell on the show and thinking: “This is going on for a long time!” I hadn’t realised that it was the full 10-minute version.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Because we’re the same age, we seem to have gone through the same things at the same time, albeit in a different part of the country. Yes, if any of my dining room buddies were away for the weekend I holed up in my room with a Pot Noodle or a Vesta Curry (could be made in a kettle I seem to remember). Shame really as it seems many of us felt the same way but all you ever seemed to see were big groups of happy students so you didn’t want to be Billy-No-Mates on your own.

      Good for you with student radio – Must have been fun back then. Like you, by third year I was well ensconced into student life but that first term was quite a shock to the system. Yes, when playing something by Meat Loaf important to check the running time as many went on for a long, long time. That clip above of Paradise by the Dashboard Light lasts over 11 minutes but I have watched it a fair few times over the last week – He was quite a performer that Meat Loaf.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Like

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