Meatloaf, aka Marvin Lee Aday, passed away today at the age of 74. He was one of the truly iconic singers from my youth, and in my humble opinion, one of the most underrated. I’m not going to do a bio here, likely there are better sites for that, but I want to post a tribute to the man and his music.
I’ll never get to tell him, now, how much he meant to me.
When I was a kid, I thought he was just plain silly. I frankly didn’t get what the fuss was over. He was a chubby, long haired hippy, granted he had a good voice, but I didn’t watch (and likely would not have gotten) Rocky Horror Picture Show. And with an album title of Bat out of Hell….coming from a family that was mothered by a Christian fundamentalist….yeah Meat Loaf was right out. But without knowing he sang it, I totally fell in love with Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad. The haunting lyrics, the soulfull singing that evoked and tickled the deep seated pain of a lonely boy, the story of a cycle of men and women not giving each other what they need….it haunted me.
Take a listen to it if you have the time. If you’ve never heard it before you’ll be glad you did. But…um…..please come back and read the rest.
I didn’t give a thought to Meatloaf really until I went to collage. I must have been nineteen or twenty when he made his phenomenal comeback in the early nineties. So many great songs on Bat Outta Hell II, he had teamed up again with incredible song writer Jim Steinman, and this record was a lyricist’ dream. Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through, while not my favorite song on the album, was my introduction to it. In my early twenties I had a young man’s dreams of someday finding love, having kids, being a good father, and living happily ever after. The song seemed to me to be a father’s love and advice to his daughter. Later I found out Meat really did have a daughter, and I’ve often wondered if the song was his tribute to her.
Until just now I’d forgotten the moment I first saw the video to this song on MTV (oh the halcyon days when MTV played music). I’d run away from home when I was seventeen, and was wrestling with whether or not I should ever go back, and try to make it right with my father, or if I should just stay gone forever. The song came on while I was in the breakroom thinking about it, and it was like Meatloaf was singing directly to me. How could I have ever forgotten that moment?
It would be a year or three before I heard any more of his music, but the album had quite a few hits on it (honestly, I never had the album, so there are likely still songs from it I haven’t heard), and it was a year or three afterwards that he cast the spell on me again. I was still in college, struggling to finish an associates degree while wrestling with severe chronic depression and myalgic encephalomyelitis. I’d gone home to make things right with dad, and while it was not as dramatic a failure as in some movies, it frankly left me feeling rejected and defeated. Then one day, hanging out with the Joneses who basically kept me fed in college (about two thirds or three quarters of my meals either came from them, or from my married friends Hal and Carrie), the video came on. MTV had stopped playing music, so another channel tried to step in and take their place. More Music ended up being a financial failure, but it had an incredible impact on my psyche. That is where I first saw what is likely his best music video. Here is I Would Do Anything for Love, But I Won’t Do That.
Later, watching an interview on some news show like 2020, he talked about his abusive father. That really resonated. I’ll leave you with one last video, the one from which I stole the title of this post (there are so many good songs, it’s actually hard to choose). Look up some of his other videos and songs. Especially Objects in the Rearview Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are, his cover of the incredible It’s All Coming Back to Me Now, and my theme song (no good video to it, but the lyrics are awesome) Life is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back.
Please comment and share if you loved Meat Loaf. What were your favorite songs? For that matter, I haven’t talked about his acting career. What was your favorite roll that he played, or favorite film he was in?