My own personal history with Meat Loaf - Denny Scott editorial
It would appear that my column from two weeks ago, in which I said that 2022 had started off on the wrong foot with so many cherished celebrity deaths, was a bit premature as more were yet to come.
Last Thursday evening, The Bat Out of Hell himself, Marvin/Michael Lee Aday, or Meat Loaf as he’s better known, passed away. He was 74 years old.
Long-time readers of The Citizen may recall that Meat Loaf is (was) one of my favourite musicians and, just a few years ago, I actually had the chance to take in one of his performances live alongside my mother (who was primarily responsible for some of my first brushes with Meat Loaf’s music).
Sure, I wish I could have seen him earlier in his career but it was a great moment and a great memory and I’m glad, especially now, that I made that effort.
It may seem odd, since the heights of his popularity pre-dated even my birth, but as long as I’ve had access to music, I’ve had Meat Loaf. My first personal music player, a classic Walkman cassette player, usually had a tape from a selection of music including Billy Joel and, as stated, Meat Loaf in it.
I played those tapes until they were warped to the point of uselessness. I went through so many batteries that my parents likely should’ve invested in Duracell. Music was a big part of my life but Meat Loaf’s music was something different. It reached me on some level and it wasn’t necessarily the lyrics (that likely went over my eight-year-old head), so it must have just been how great the sound was.
I was still trying to play piano at the time (a skill I always do plan to return to) and I wanted to learn to tickle the ivories like Jim Steinman (Meat Loaf’s composer) who also passed away recently (last April). Man, this decade sucks and we’re just over two years in.
My first CD player boombox, which I got when I was 12, often played discs by Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Crash Test Dummies, No Doubt and, of course, Meat Loaf. I would fall asleep every night listening to some kind of music and more often than not, it was Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell.
When I was 14, I saved up my hard-earned chore money and bought a Discman as a teenager and alternated between Big Shiny Tunes 2 and the aforementioned Bat Out of Hell II album as I cycled around Goderich.
For a very long time, I alternated between cassettes and CDs of his music, knowing only that small slice of his work. It wasn’t until I went to Brantford to pursue a post-secondary education that I discovered just how deep Meat Loaf’s musical catalogue was. Sure, I had “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”, “You Took the Words Right out of My Mouth”, “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad”, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I won’t Do That)” and of course the title track from Bat out of Hell, but I had no idea how much more there was, and how great it all was.
While downtown Brantford is turning into a hidden gem, when I was there it was definitely a bit rougher. Buildings burned down more often than they should, there was a murder or two within blocks of my apartment and things were just downright sketchy.
However, sketchy turned out to be exactly what I needed to continue my Meat Loaf musical education because when you have a sketchy place, some of the few businesses that flourish are pawn shops.
Within a six-block radius of my on-campus apartment were five pawn shops. They kept my friends, roommates and myself entertained with old video games through my school career, but also made it so I could collect every Meat Loaf album imaginable. From original releases to later collections, I found a treasure-trove of his music. I located most of his (at-the-time) nine studio albums (after I graduated, he released three more albums) and a couple of the live albums. Later on, I even got my hands on a DVD of concert performances which still holds a special place among the few physical media I still own.
Heck, one of my roommates still remembers the day I first heard Meat Loaf and Marion Raven’s take on “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”, because I listened to it on repeat for hours. I may have also sung along after the first half-dozen times. I may have also tried to breathe some Meat Loaf into a Celine Dion recording of it during a karaoke night or two.
There have been a lot of great memories like that one tied to Meat Loaf’s music, including cycling around Goderich and belting out the music at the top of my lungs whenever I had the house to myself. Okay, maybe I still do that last one. But one of my favourite memories is showing up for an interview at a reader’s house and hearing Meat Loaf coming out of their entertainment system. I said “I love Meat Loaf,” and they said they knew, because they’d read a column I wrote about it and put it on since I was coming over.
From those great memories to modernity, when my personal digital music collection includes all those Meat Loaf tunes, and my streaming services have his work bookmarked as well, Meat Loaf’s music has been like a friend to me for years. Even in death I’m sure he’ll still be there. It still sucks losing him though.