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RIP Meat Loaf

Meat Loaf, whose real name was Marvin Lee Aday, passed away last night. He was 74 years-old.

I’m deeply saddened.

I genuinely loved Meat Loaf’s music and was fortunate enough to see him in concert a handful of times. The last time, about 20 years ago, he performed alongside Cyndi Lauper in one of the most fun concerts I’ve ever attended. I danced the night away.

A few memories related to Meat Loaf:

I first discovered Meat Loaf in the mid 1980’s after attending midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Harvard Square. Meat Loaf sings many of the songs in the film and also plays Eddie, a motorcycle enthusiast who is chopped to pieces via chainsaw by Tim Curry’s character. After falling in love with the soundtrack to the show, including the many audience participation albums, I decided to find out if Meat Loaf had any other music.

Low and behold, he did. Of course he did. His 1977 album Bat Out of Hell is one of the bestselling albums in history.

I spent a great deal of time and effort in the mid to late 1980’s collecting all of Meatloaf’s albums on cassette. The four albums between Bat Out of Hell and 1993’s Bat Out of Hell II were not well received and did not sell well, each only going gold.

As a result, they were nearly impossible to find.

People born in the age of the internet and streaming might have difficulty understanding this, but there was a time when things needed to be searched for in the physical world and sometimes could not be found at all. I scoured independent and used record shops throughout Boston and New York, eventually collecting all of them. Honestly, I think they are nearly as good as the Bat Out of Hell albums, but not everyone would agree.

As I started listening to his music, I found some of his lyrics difficult to understand, and again, before the internet and in the absence of lyrics in the liner notes, people in the pre-internet era were left to simply guess at (and occasionally debate about) some of the lines. So I put out a call to all my friends:

“Find me the lyrics to the Bat Out of Hell album, and I will marry you!”

Heather Macchi eventually produced a songbook for Bat Out of Hell, written for piano and guitar players, which included the vocal lyrics.

I did not marry Heather, but 35 years later, that song book is sitting beside me as I write these words.

Elysha is not a Meat Loaf fan. No one is perfect, of course. She also loves Steely Dan, which might be worse than not loving Meat Loaf.

But early on in our relationship, I argued that Elysha didn’t give Meat Loaf a fair chance, so she agreed to listen to his music on the way to the Berkshires to visit her parents. About an hour into the drive, we pulled into the parking lot of a Stop & Shop to pick up groceries for her parents. I turned off the car, stopping the music, then turned to her and said, “What do you think?”

Her face said it all. But then, in case I wasn’t properly reading her facial expression, she said, “I don’t know if I can be with you anymore.”

Turns out her distaste for Meat Loaf is legit. At least so far. We’re all evolving. Perhaps she just needs more time.

Though I shouldn’t be surprised about her feelings for the music. She can’t stand music that intends to be dramatic in any way.

Meat Loaf is all drama.

When Bengi and I became wedding DJ’s, we started playing Meat Loaf’s best known song, “Paradise By the Dashboard Lights” at weddings. There’s a part in the song when the female vocalist, Ellen Foley, and Meatloaf, sing back and forth, almost competitively.

Foley demands to know if Meat Loaf will love her forever before she agrees to have sex with him.

Meatloaf asks to sleep on it, promising to tell her in the morning.

The two go back and forth for quite a while before Meat Loaf eventually agrees to love her forever, then he regrets it for the rest of his life.

At weddings, I would don a blond wig, assemble the women, and lead them in singing Foley’s part, while Bengi would assemble the men and do the same. It’s the kind of thing that Elysha would despise and I would admittedly not want at my wedding, but many of our clients did.

Singing a Meat Loaf song alongside Bengi at hundreds of weddings while wearing a wig is one of my favorite memories of our wedding DJ days.

But now Meat Loaf is gone.

When I discovered that Kurt Vonnegut passed away in 2007 at the age of 84 (after falling down steps at his home), I wept.

When I learned of Meat Loaf’s death this morning, I was deeply saddened, and there might’ve been a tear in my eye as I wrote these words. For a long time, Meat Loaf’s music has been part of the soundtrack of my life, blasting in the car and my classroom, playing in my headphones at the gym, and filling my head with music anytime I was feeling less than enthusiastic.

Those songs will undoubtedly continue to do so.

Meat Loaf’s songs are long, bombastic, theatrical, and unlike most of the music produced over the course of his lifetime, and I loved almost all of them. I still do.

Meat Loaf and his music were both larger than life, which is why it’s so hard to imagine a world without him. I’m so sad to see him go. He will be missed by many, myself included.

Rest in peace, Meat Loaf. Thank you so very much for all of the music and memories.