Meat Loaf (YGtCTO Music #51)

Bat Out of Hell

Song written by Jim Steinman and performed by Meat Loaf

We’re all just living in Meat Loaf’s world. Forget everything you know about the last forty years. This song and the entire album that it comes from basically sum up life for a Midwestern guy with five decades behind him. You try and grow up in the era of peak album-oriented rock radio without having every note and key change irrevocably intertwined with your DNA strands. Sure, you might think Bruce Springsteen is the boss, but Meat Loaf is more god than Eric Clapton. Those songs on here are every warble from all those messed up television evangelists condemned to the derision and disdain they deserve and then reconstituted for rebirth as anthems to the glory that is life as truly lived where corn fields, auto assembly plants and steel mills rise higher than steeples, court houses and unemployment agencies.

“There ain’t no Coup de Ville lying at the bottom of a Crackerjack box.”

Those are words for hard work. And possibly worthy of Edward Arlington Robinson and Banjo Paterson.

Paradise by the Dashboard Light?

Have mercy… If you have never ridden in a car with fuzzy dice hanging from the rear-view mirror or listened to Phil Rizzuto call a baseball game, then… this song is not for you. The amazing thing is how advancing age moves you through a whole range of emotions appreciating the song- a song which I willingly admit ought to be crap. (I knew the difference between Ellen Foley and Karla DeVito- bought their albums, too…)

“On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?”

All right, this was made by people familiar with Broadway and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The mistake is thinking that your audience doesn’t get the joke. Bat Out of Hell does not pre-date irony or meta-humor. However, it does straddle a weird fence that divides irony from truth. High opera always overstated the emotional states of its protagonists. This succeeded more at casting their behavior into stark relief than necessarily transforming it into satire. When the audience travels with the artist and the artist gives the audience a chance to look at themselves- wisdom and shared experience allow humor and pain to emerge naturally.

Jim Steinman and Todd Rundgren? In retrospect, it’s one of those moments in time where the stars aligned. A formula rose after Bat Out of Hell that required over-production that made Phil Spector seem restrained. Those years needed to pass before the emotional resonance in the original could be heard, but the art wills out.

What’s it all about?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 149 more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.

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