Meat Loaf, born Marvin Aday on September 27, 1947, died yesterday at the age of 74. He was a boisterous, theatrical man with a powerful voice and a knack for articulating the irony, dark humor, and downright playfulness of lyrics written by longtime collaborator Jim Steinman. In addition to singing on albums, Meat Loaf also made several guest appearances in movies in both singing and non-singing roles, including Fight Club (Robert “Bitch Tits” Paulsen), Wayne’s World (Tiny), Spice World (Dennis the bus driver), Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (Bud Black), and several more.
He will be missed.
Bat Out of Hell
I was born in 1989. My parents were both born in the early-60s and as such my musical exposure when I was younger tended to be laden with music from the mid-to-late-1970s. This does not in any way make me unique, and is not an indication that I grew up with some privileges or opportunities others didn’t. It is just supposed to show that I grew up with a lot of music from the 1970s around me.
On of my mom’s all-time favorite albums is Meat Loaf’s 1977 debut album, Bat Out of Hell. We listened to Bat Out of Hell dozens and dozens of times. My mom would play it on road trips, she’d put the tape in while cleaning the house, and any time one of the songs from the album came on the radio, my mom would crank it up and sing with great gusto.
Eventually I couldn’t help but learn the words, and I started to love the album myself. It was dripping with irony. Teenage horndog anthem “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” is basically a teenage boy begging for some physical attention from his girlfriend, in exchange for which he promises to stay with her until the end of time. He gets the attention then immediately regrets promising eternity and in a weirdly upbeat move decides to sing “So now I’m praying for the end of time/to hurry up and arrive/’Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you/I don’t think that I can really survive.” Devastatingly adolescent with a fast, optimistic tempo.
I still listen to Bat Out of Hell at least a few times a year. It’s a great road trip album. There are long, exciting, fun songs tempered with the occasional slow ballad. However, whatever type of song, they are all tremendously fun to sing along to. The whole album is filled with perspectives that only a person young and experiencing love (or what they believe is love) for the first time. It’s angsty and cynical and desperately romantic—all the things you’re likely to find in a lovestruck teenager. But that’s okay. It’s a great album.
Interestingly, Bat Out of Hell is also one of the best selling albums of all time. It has been certified 14 times platinum and apparently still sells about 200,000 copies per year, 45 years after its release. Absolutely insane that a fat kid from Dallas would end up recording one of the best selling albums in the history of music.
Rest in Peace
Of course, Meat Loaf went on to do more things, including two sequels to Bat Out of Hell. Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell featured classic rock opera standard “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” a twelve-minute epic with accompanying mini-movie music video that is part MTV, part Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
I could literally talk about Meat Loaf for hours, which is weird, I know. But I have a lot of memories associated with Meat Loaf. Listening to Bat Out of Hell several times of year, of course. But also seeing him as the bus driver in Spice World sticks out because my mom excitedly said, “That’s Meat Loaf!” when he was on the screen for the first time. His small part in The Rocky Horror Picture Show was one more very weird brick in the supremely strange wall that is that movie. Seeing him ground the actor playing young Jack Black in Pick of Destiny was a welcome surprise when I saw that movie in theaters.
But at the end of the day Meat Loaf was a husband, father, son, and friend to many people. He will be missed by those as well as his millions of fans.