Paradise By The Dashboard Gaslight

The sad news of the death of Meat Loaf doesn’t mean that Alex Maiolo felt any better about the music and the lyrics.

Paradise By The Dashboard Gaslight

Meat Loaf has left the building.

It’s hard to describe how ubiquitous that first album was when I was a child. I’ve never been much of a fan of showtunes, outside of the truly great works by, say, Rogers & Hammerstein, so to hear them on the radio constantly was borderline traumatic.

The whole thing was confusing. Here we have a record called Bat Out Hell, featuring said hell bat on the sleeve, presumably exiting hell, on a motorcycle.

This music has to be at least as heavy as, say, Kiss, or the Alice Cooper Group, right?

Probably heavier.

No, it turned out to be ’50s throwback shooby-dooby-doo white boy honky-tonk piano rock “‘n” roll. Released in 1977, at a time truly exciting music was emerging, it’s a most conservative artistic choice. Things like it, and Grease, harkened back to a time where “men were men, and women were women,” presaging the rightward turn into Thatcherism and Reaganism, which would come a couple of years later.

However, I do owe Meat Loaf one thing:

The music he and Jim Steinman wrote made me aware, at a very young age, of what I’d later know as “gaslighting.”

The package was a collection of songs, and an accompanying stage performance, where a fairly unattractive man slags off the beautiful Karla Devito (or her character) for our entertainment.

“I want you, I need you, but there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you. Now don’t be sad, ’cause two out of three ain’t bad.”

What a goddamn charmer, yeah?

For about 10 minutes, when the world was fascinated with Neill Strauss’ book about Pick Up Artist culture, we learned this technique is called “negging” – a way to seduce the vulnerable with backhanded compliments – and Meat Loaf’s ode to it was broadcast across the airwaves as the ’70s drew to a close. It still is, on stations that peddle in nostalgia rock.

You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth paints the woman as a kind of Jersey Shore succubus. All her fault, right? The fact is, our hero could have just kept it in his pants and walked.

Paradise By The Dashboard Light features our poonhound protagonist promising his mark anything just to get laid, including marriage. The woman finally capitulates, and we’re treated to a baseball game-style commentary, play-by-play, of them gettin’ it oooonnnnnnn, to a cod-porn soundtrack.

When I think “OK this is all basically one long theater piece about a despicable man. We should pick up on that, right? So I should appreciate the character acting, or whatever” it’s this part that makes me reconsider.

And what do you know, as soon as the sex act has concluded, Mssr. Loaf, now stuck in what he considers to be a Faustian Bargain, hopes death will come soon because, you know, he actually hates this woman.

Death did come, in the form of COVID, last week. Apparently he would do anything for love (but he wouldn’t get vaxxed). Claiming measures to prevent the spread of the virus were “political,” he was staunchly anti-mask and anti-vax. “If I die, I die, but I’m not going to be controlled,” he was on record as saying.

And thus a guy known for writing songs about fucking around found out.

Odd that he considered people like Greta Thunberg to be “brainwashed” when you review the record.

This is in no way to dance on his grave.

No. I hope the man his parents knew as Michael Lee Aday rests in peace.

It’s hard to have a career in rock music, and he pulled it off.

He was known as “a great guy,” and always seemed to have time for his fans, but when artists pass we often look back on their legacy. As far as I can tell a key component of his was perpetuating the idea that it’s just a part of life for men to coerce young women into sex, and then shit on them.

~

Words by Alex Maiolo

Previous articleRadiohead: On Track: Every Album, Every Song – On Track – book review
Next articleTheatre review : Intimate Theatre Returns to Paris with Joanna Pickering’s Impacting Debut Trilogy — and Sell Out Dates.
One foot in Chapel Hill, NC, one foot in Scandinavia. Owns a bike in Copenhagen which means the Ridder Af Dannebrog is likely forthcoming. Recording engineer, Psych Rock/'Gaze guitarist, purveyor of Moroderik Musik, and electronic warrior of TRIPLE X SNAXXX and Themes for Great Cities. Apparently pro bono if you don’t count the free drinks. Currently receiving mixed messages from various modular synths.

16 COMMENTS

  1. You’re an idiot! Stop with all this P.C. Builds!t already. You don’t like something don’t listen to it, you don’t need to cry over it while you spread your hate about it.

  2. How many songs has Nick Cave wrote about MURDERING women?
    In fact, it’s a Blues tradition.
    I hope you never encounter a Rolling Stones record. Or, y,know a book. Or a movie.
    You can always listen to B****** Sea Power instead.
    More woke cancel culture bullshit from this esteemed website.
    YAWN.

  3. You are a jackass. Meat Loaf did not write the songs on Bat Out of Hell. The great Jim Steinmann wrote them.
    Meat Loaf’s parents knew him as Marvin. He changed his name after they died.

  4. How pathetic! Men and women both enjoy sex. Deal with it people. Jesus I hate this new generation of weak, over opinionated adult children!

  5. It seems that once again a fool has found a place to be heard. I wonder how the lense of history will judge you? Have you ever laughed at a joke or sad something off colour? I am sure in your life you have been the pure light we all should be compared to. The world was a different place in the 70s. How kind will history be to you in 40 years? You can not accept that any opinion other then yours is right. I also find it hard to believe that someone was so desperate as to give you a platform to spout this opinion.

  6. The songs were meant to be tounge and cheek . Come on . They were supposed to be humorous . Only an idiot would take them seriously.

  7. I don’t why these stupid articles come up. Meatloaf’s daughter posted 4 weeks ago that her dad was vaccinated. Liberal maniacs think that just because someone is anti-mandate that they are anti-vax. I am anti-mandate and probably have 20 vaccines inside me. Am I anti-vax too? At least so your job and stop making idiotic assumptions because you’re too lazy to actually search for the facts. Here’s a fact … You have a pathetic life !!

  8. Wow, what a pointless and misguided hit piece! I don’t want point out that the lyrics and tone of Bat Out of Hell were meant to be tongue-in-check and were the points-of-view of “characters” in a story — because they were. And I don’t want to point out the lyrics in question weren’t actually written by Meat Loaf, but were written ENTIRELY by Jim Steinman, his partner — because they were, but you still foolishly connected them to Meat Loaf and his unpopular late-life political stances despite a near 40-year gap between. I don’t want to point those things out because any journalist who bothered to do any research whatsoever would’ve realized these things. But the most egregious thing is that you failed to include the fact that Meat and Steinman completely flipped the script on the brash and youthfully-foolish ramblings of Bat Out of Hell 16 years later with the sequel which featured those same personas with newfound wisdom and a sense of integrity. Seriously, go read the lyrics of I Would Do Anything For Love and tell me that anything that was written in this article holds any water after that. If you’re going to go the route of not separating an artist from his art, as you’ve done here, then you need to consider ALL of his art.

  9. I have to agree with all the other comments.
    Your opinion peice has no connection to the time and setting of this artist works.
    Or it’s effect on his audience at the time.
    Oh, and if you got this much wrong about this kind of music, maybe you you should remove your cheesy bio blurb about being a musician.. of sorts.

  10. Oh dear. I’m guessing this didn’t go the way you expected?! Meatloaf was a showman. His Bat Out Of Hell album was funny. It was meant to be funny and he nailed it.
    Green doesn’t suit you. Go back to your cave darling.

  11. Wow. His subject matter certainly covers the then sentiment of men and women and maybe wouldn’t last today (though top 40 shows otherwise). The man definitely ended up at the end of his own gun with his antivax rhetoric, but his body of work is very much a time capsule of his era. Are we better now? Sure. But this article showed zero effort towards anything except to justify getting to the common meme of the last seven days. The one joke this person was getting to wasn’t even original.
    I guess Louder Than War is now off of my news feeds.

  12. Wow, you’re quite the piece of work there, aren’t you guy? You had decades to air your nonsensical opinions, but you waited until after the man has passed so he has no chance of defending himself.

    Also, it would seem that you don’t really know what it means too “gaslighti” someone being persistent, or even begging, is not bloody gaslighting. But what’s worse is your interpretation of these songs. I mean gezus, talk about textbook character projecting. It seems to me that you’re the one with issues and see women as lesser beings to used for your enjoyment entertainment.

    Get help, please.

  13. I’m totally with Alex on this one. People are all too wary of being seen to be disrespectful of recently deceased artists. How many hypocritical obituaries do we see by writers who constantly slagged someone off when they were alive and then write about how their work is due for ‘critical reappraisal’ in the aftermath of their death. Sorry, but shit music doesn’t stop being shit because its creator and purveyor have both departed. Steinman and Meatloaf between them pedalled a morally and musically reactionary worldview at a time when others were doing the exact opposite.
    On top of that, how many of his fans did Meatloaf influence to refuse a vaccine? …and how many of them may well have died as a result. Whether or not you enjoy his music, he was undeniably a malign and irresponsible presence.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here