Friday, December 15, 2006

Jim Steinman

I know some people--totally insufferable people--are far too cool for stuff like this. But...fuck 'em. The man writes great songs. Sure, "tasteful restraint" is more or less a foreign concept for him, but that's part of the point--if it were, Bat Out of Hell certainly wouldn't have sold eighteen trillion copies.

I was thinking the other day about what a great song "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" really is. It may be the first thing critics think about when they think--derisively--of Meat Loaf, but seriously: it's not just catchy; it's smart and funny, also. It's not just about some horny kid wanting to get laid and being roped into an eternal obligation; it's about every horny kid's worst fears. In a sense, it's a tongue-in-cheek piece of propaganda; the "will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?/will you take me away will you make me your wife" part (I can neither confirm nor deny rumors that I have sung along with this section. Loudly. In public.) is every finger-wagging moralist lecturing you about how casual sex is Very Bad. Look what will happen to you! If you don't mean it, you'll be forced into a commitment that will be so horrible that you'll literally spend your every waking moment loudly praying for the heat death of the universe to get out of it. Never mind that this doesn't exactly seem to fulfill the spirit of the promise; the whole point is that you'll be suffering like a mofo. And why would she WANT to stay with him under these circumstances? Because she's an inscrutable female. Although we want to fuck her, we have a hard time conceiving of her as a human being like us; all she wants (although "want" really isn't the right word, since it implies agency, when really she's just a kind of natural force)--for reasons we cannot comprehend--is to ruin our lives.

Throw in the baseball commentary section, and you've got something very near genius.

Another much-maligned song: "I Would Do Anything for Love (but I won't do that)." WHAT DOES 'THAT' MEAN HUR HUR HUR. Yes, very clever. Not that it's particularly relevant, but to respond, the things he won't do are as follows: lie to you (and that's a fact), forgive himself if 'we' don't go all the way tonight, do it better than he does it with you, stop dreaming of you every night of his life (no way), see that it's time to move on, screw around. Sheesh, people. Just LOOK at it for a minute.

The song is about as over-the-top as it gets, but it's not as though that's easy to do. Planets turning, stars burning--and "sex and drums and rock and roll." When I first heard the song when I was a dopey kid, I thought, hey, that should be "drugs"! Censorship! But clearly, it wouldn't flow as well that way--you can't drag out the 'g' like you can the 'm.' The artfulness may get lost in the sturm und drang, but it's quite plainly there. And COME ON MAN: "Will you cater to every fantasy I've got?/Will you hose me down with holy water if I get too hot?" Somebody please tell me: in what sense is that not totally brilliant?

Also: "Wasted Youth." Seriously hilarious. So I took my guitar! I smashed it against the wall! I smashed it against the floor! I smashed it against the body of a varsity cheerleader! If that doesn't make you laugh...

And man: "Total Eclipse of the Heart," let's not forget he wrote. That mix of resolution and desperation in "forever's gonna start tonight"--oh yeah.

Meat Loaf personally is pretty embarrassing, I'll readily admit. But who cares about that? I'M GONNA HIT THE HIGHWAY LIKE A BATTERING RAM ON A SILVER-BLACK PHANTOM BIKE!

1 Comments:

Blogger GeoX pontificated to the effect that...

Fun behind-the-scenes fact: I was feeling pretty good when I wrote this post. This was because I'd just nailed down plans to pay a Christmas visit to my then-girlfriend in DC. Festivity! Presents! Getting laid! General happiness. Then, she broke up with me. The next day, I'm pretty sure, which would explain why the next Against the Blog post beings with "the show must go on." Hey, it happens, it sucks, you get over it. But it wasn't a particular joyous occasion, I will tell you that much.

And now you know...the rest of the story.

3:02 AM  

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