Night Music: Meat Loaf, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”

I confess to a strange and circuitous relationship with Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell album.

I did buy the album when it came out, and remember selling a friend–John Takauchi–the poster from within the album for $10, a hefty sum at the time. I do see the original album goes for $35 or so on Ebay, but did not see any posters that came with the initial pressing of the 1977 disc.

I did like the album, though I thought Jim Steinman’s songwriting a little overwrought and too angst-ridden, but Meat sings well, the band is great, and well, Todd Rundgren produced the whole thing and played guitar and those are good credentials.

The album came and went but suddenly I crossed paths with Meat who is a big Fantasy Baseball player, for we met a couple of times years ago when the National Fantasy Baseball Championship drafts were held in Las Vegas.

However, in 2011, after Diane and I had actually been together for a half-dozen years, Meat dropped in again.

I have to remind readers old and advise readers new, that my partner in life, Diane Walsh and I share very little musically. Over our 10 years together we have attended only one life concert together that did not involve either my band, or the band of a friends.

She likes the hit WTF and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Thrift Shop just to give an idea of the range of what she will listen to, but, as for liking bands or albums or things I like, we are on not just different planets: more like as I have written that music, for Diane, is something to listen to while at the gym.

Di and I have driven cross country a couple of times, and I mostly tried to mitigate the gap in our musical tastes by finding classic 80’s and 90’s, living on Boston and Georgia Satellites and their ilk while in the car.

But, during our second trip from Chicago to Berkeley we traveled Route 66, and during the end of May and we ran into some torrential rain just outside of Tulsa. The rain pelted us on the Interstate so hard that we had to pull over.

As we sat there, mesmerized by the crazy falling water, Paradise by the Dashboard Light came on the radio. Diane and I had never discussed this song (I might have mentioned that I met Meat) or album, but I started singing Meat’s part when the vocals came on, something not unusual for me. The cool thing was that right on cue, Diane began singing the Ellen Foley part, and we sat there, on the side of the freeway, pouring rain, singing the duet to and with one another about as spontaneously as permits.

It was quite fun, and one of those little magic moments in relationships, and as it is, a bunch of the songs from the album are on my shuffle for times when a cross pollination of our musical tastes is appropriate.

But, a week ago, as I was surfing for something to watch among the 300 derelict channels we get, the film Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise was on and I found it pretty fun and interesting.

There was a clip of Paradise that is not the one below, but it does appear to be from the same tour. But, Meat and Karla DeVito (I believe) are great in the performance. And, overblown or melodramatic or whatever, the song and performance make pretty good theater.

10 thoughts on “Night Music: Meat Loaf, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”

  1. Mr. Loaf has a nice cameo in the under appreciated Sausage Party. He also figures in a late night driving memory (no story) of mine, taking a drive-away car from NY to Longboat Key in 1977. The other memory was driving past Baltimore and stopping after midnight to hear the whole of the Jam’s This is the Modern World on the side of the road, so as not to lose the signal. Precious.

  2. Sweet story, Lawr. I love you. I sat next to Meat at an NFBC draft and he seems like a nice guy. I didn’t tell him that I loathe his album. It made me ill on first hearing and has stood the test of time. I never knew that was Ellen Foley but it figures. I think what I hated most was that Rizzuto himself didn’t do Rizzuto right. We were afficianados of Rizzuto (and even more Bob Murphy of the Mets). Phil added the final false touch. Showbiz rock.

    Furthermore, I hate almost all the show tune standards. I especially hate West Side Story and Oklahoma. I can see show tunes if they’re funny, or if they are actual showstoppers, but please. The Impossible Cat Dream or whatever it’s called makes me wanna throw things. Evita calls for drastic measures:

  3. Understood, Gene. I hate Journey and Styx and Kansas and all the crappy 80’s bands that were overblown and useless, not so much because the bands were bad, but because none of them had a decent songwriter (which sadly did not prevent them from having hits).

    As for musicals, again I understand, but the reality is I really don’t like musical movies (though there are some exceptions, like “Cabaret” and “A Hard Days Night” and “My Fair Lady” (which arguably has the wittiest lyric ever all things considered).

    But, I do love musicals live, especially on Broadway. Les Mis, Spamalot, Beautiful, and the Book of Mormon all killed.

  4. I’ve heard that Book of Mormon is great, and A Hard Day’s Night is beyond great. Ya know, the MOVIE Help! is not as good but the songs are every bit as good.

    I remember Robert Christgau’s review of Meatloaf because it so EXACTLY mirrored my thoughts. He said something like “Beware, Bruce Springsteen, this is what you have wrought and it could happen to you.”

    • I’d forgotten that Christgau comment, and from this vantage I can see its merits. But I have to say that I first saw Mr. Loaf as more of the next step from the Tubes (who I liked a lot) than Bruce (who at that point got my grudging admiration). The antecedents (girl groups and Spector) were similar, but the expression was different. Ernest versus camp. Serious versus cheese.

      I had no problem with PBTDBL on the radio, which is where it belonged. And belongs. You can always change the station.

  5. Yeah, no. PBTDL has always been crazy annoying to me in the same vein as Grease. I’m not the world’s most physical guy, but this stuff is rock ‘n’ roll for girls.

  6. Help is great and good fun with Victor Spinetti and Roy Keiner and Victor Buono playing off the Beatles. and, oh yea, that Wizard of Oz movie is not only one of the most brilliant pieces of cinema (think of how they did the effects then compared to what we have now, and how brilliantly they were pulled off) but the songs are equally witty and brilliant, as is the screenplay.

    Director was the great Victor Fleming, who had a good year in 1939 with The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind.

  7. MY girls despise PBTDL too. Don’t blame the girls. Yeah, Grease with Olivia The Fig Newton and John Revolta before he made his Serious Actor move. Yeah, The Tubes and let’s not forget the Cockettes. I get the direct musical antecedent as the abominable Rocky Horror Picture Show (yeah I know, some people like it, what can I say?). There used to be a Boston band in this sort of vein that I liked called The Shitons, but apparently they never recorded anything. They were more like Shanana only not corny but campy.

    Be that as it may, long before any of that was THIS. The showbiz has to be secondary:

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