I’m guessing most people reading this are familiar with the smash hit from Meat Loaf in 1977, Paradise by the Dashboard Light.
“Paradise by the Dashboard Light” is one of the longest songs to be released uncut on one side of a 45 RPM record. The only difference between the single (45 RPM) and album versions is that the single version fades out almost immediately after the final line is sung. Jim Steinman had stated that he wanted to write “the ultimate car/sex song in which everything goes horribly wrong in the end. According to Meat Loaf on “VH1 Storytellers”, the original length of the track was to be 27 minutes. Phil Rizzuto, the announcer for the New York Yankees, recorded the baseball voice-over portion of the song. Rizzuto publicly maintained he was unaware that his contribution would be equated with sex in the finished song, but Meat Loaf asserts that Rizzuto only feigned ignorance to stifle some criticism from a priest and was fully aware of the context of what he was recording.
But as great as that song is, it’s not my favorite Meat Load song. That title belongs to another eight minute epic – Bat Out of Hell. Like most songs on the album, the song was written about Peter Pan and the Neverland story.
I was never aware of the Peter Pan link until I read about it on Wikipedia while preparing this post.
I was also not aware that many people have compared Meat Loaf to Bruce Springsteen, so it’s perhaps no surprise that I am such a fan of Meat Loaf. In fact, many people compare the song “Bat Out of Hell” to Springsteen’s “Thunder Road”, which is my all-time favorite song. More on this comparison at the end of the post.
Meat Loaf’s first album, Bat Out of Hell Is often compared to Springsteen’s groundbreaking album Born to Run.
Bat Out of Hell, the album, is also one of my favorite albums of all-time, one of those rare albums where every song is great. Just look at the track listing:
“Bat Out of Hell
“You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth”
“Heaven Can Wait”
“All Revved Up with No Place to Go”
“Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”
“Paradise by the Dashboard Light”
“For Crying Out Loud”
Bat Out of Hell is one of the best-selling albums of all time, having sold over 43 million copies worldwide. It is certified 14x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). As of June 2019, it has spent 522 weeks in the UK Albums Chart, the second longest chart run by a studio album. Regarded as one of the most influential rock albums of all time, Bat Out of Hell’s songs have remained classic rock staples. Rolling Stone ranked it at number 343 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It wa as partnership with composer Jim SteiNman and producer Todd Rundgren.
Meat Loaf’s real name is Michael Lee Aday. He is noted for his powerful, wide-ranging voice and for his theatrical live shows.
I remember 30 years ago a fellow Villanova colleague telling me that he thought Meat Loaf had the greatest rock and roll voice of all time. It seems like he may not have been alone in such an assessment.
I should also point out that the original inspiration for this blog post came from a local musician I have featured before, Scott McClatchy. Last week, on day 106 of his Mission To Civilize Internet Guitar Pull, Scott played an amazing acoustic version of Bat Out of Hell, and had a lively discussion with his followers on his comparison of Meat Loaf to Springsteen. Here’s part of what he wrote:
The premise of the original discussion was to compare the similarities between “Bat Out Of Hell” and “Born To Run” ~ like that both records feature E Street Band members; Roy Bittan (piano) and Max Weinberg (drums). Both records have ‘West Side Story” influence lyrics, and Phil Spector inspired productions. For me, I found a poetic reality to Springsteens words, and a heartbeat that chimed in rhythm with mine. While I thought that Steinman was more ‘Broadway ready’ ~ but I did listen to both … a lot.
Ii’s also worth noting that another E Street Band member, Steve Van Zandt, was instrumental in helping Steinem land a record deal for the album.
Here’s Scott’s outstanding acoustic version; it may be the only one ever recorded!
So this was an enjoyable post for me. Beyond having the opportunity to listen to some great music by Meat Loaf, I learned about an apparently strong connection between the music of Meat Loaf and that of Bruce Springsteen.
As I said earlier, it’s no surprise that I enjoy both musicians.
P.S. If you want to read an updated account of Meat Loaf, here is a great article from Rolling Stone.
P.S.S. And speaking of fun, here is Paradise by the Dashboard Light, performed by the cast of Glee:
*image from Long 70s