Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What, Meat Loaf Again?

Against my better judgment, I’ve been watching “Celebrity Apprentice” this season.  After last season, I told myself, “Enough of this silliness.” 

When they announced this season’s slate of semi-famous and near greats, I was singularly unimpressed.  That is, until I got to two names: Marlee Matlin and Meat Loaf.

First off, I think Marlee Matlin is adorable, so that much was known.  Then last week on the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump, she killed!  She really showed off wicked sense of humor, even before Gilbert Gottfried came out to act as her translator.

Gorgeous, funny, and she rarely speaks… I dare say; she’s the perfect package!

But I digress.  Mostly, I had to watch the show to see Meat Loaf.  He’s come up a couple of posts of mine before… One was about when I met him in 1994, and the other about how his music is my good luck charm for bad weather driving. 

Meat Loaf is my nominee for Greatest Rock Singer Ever.  Geez, I must have worn out 2 or 3 copies of the Bat Out of Hell cassette over the years.  When I was driving to and from college and the weather turned bad, I used to think, “If I’m going to kill myself smashing up this car, I at least want to go out to some great music.”  Could there possibly be better car crash music than the song “Bat Out of Hell?”

Anyway, when the snow fell, I’d crank up the Bat and somehow I’d always make it home.  I soon began to consider that tape to be my good luck charm.  I knew The Loaf would get me home.

If I had to pick one album as my all time favorite, this is it.  “Bat Out of Hell” is practically perfect.  It’s got brain-stinging guitar, flawless harmonies, wicked lyrics and a sly sense of humor, hooks a mile wide and a complete wall of sound.  The Loaf has a voice that can both blow apart a cinderblock or tickle you under the chin like a feather.  When he brings a song to a climax, you feel the earth move.

I first obtained the LP when I joined Columbia Record Club, back in the late 70s.  I got it primarily for “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and “Paradise By the Dashboard Lights,” or “that one with the baseball rap” as I knew it then.  I didn’t know anything else on the album.

My buddy Brill told me to listen to the title track.  I saw that it ran over 9 minutes, so I told him, “Eh, that’s just another one of those long-ass songs you like.”  I was more partial to “3-minutes and out,” myself.  (In music… don’t be a wise-ass.)

I put the needle down, lay down on the floor with the lyric on the inner sleeve, and soaked it all in.  It damn near fried my brain right there.  It had power and fury, desperation and escape, living fast and dying too young.  It was a masterpiece.  And the end… holy shit, on that last “Like a bat out of HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLL,” he hits that note so freakin’ hard, and just holds it longer than any human should be able to do.  That was a life-changing event for me, right there.

So I was rolling toward the subway station this morning when “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” came on my MP3 player.  It occurred to me that I have 7 different versions of that song, each with its own strong points.

Original version: perfectly done, fairly understated, by Loaf standards.

Dub from a bootleg album from the 11th show of his first tour: Not nearly as polished as his later performances, but incredibly heart-felt.

Live from Wembley: from “Blind Before I Stop” tour in the mid-80s.  I saw this tour in Cleveland.  This is probably my favorite version, purely on the basis of the backup vocals.  He had these two blond sisters, Amy and Elaine Goff, singing with him and their voices just soared.

Live Around the World: From Bat Out of Hell 2 tour.  Big production.

VH1 Storytellers: live in studio, recorded for VH1.

Live with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra: Full orchestral treatment!  Love this one.

Extra Track on his latest disc, “Hang Tough Teddy Bear.”  On the intro, he says he’d stopped playing this live, but would play it for them that night.  If I ever went to see a Meat Loaf show and he didn’t play 2 Out of 3, I’d be severely pissed off.

And this all doesn’t include the horrible Bonnie Tyler, disco version.

To see Meat Loaf in concert is like going to a rock opera.  Everything is over the top, and often times, acted out like a stage play.  When I saw him in Boston doing small warm-up shows before his Bat Out of Hell 2 tour, he did this thing where he got the audience to do this whole call and response bit, with out speaking a single word.  He just used gestures and facial expressions to communicate and it worked like a charm.  That was when I realized why he’s been so popular all over the world.  No language barrier.

I saw an interview he did back in the 80s, on a talk show that comedian David Brenner had, and was talking about an album he recorded in Germany.  Brenner asked him, “What did they call you in Germany, ‘Herr Loaf?”

He answered, “They mostly called me MEEEEAT!  Like, ‘You vill sing now MEEEEEAT!’”

Special Music Geek Note: His name is properly spelled, Meat Loaf, as a first and last name, rather than one name: “Meatloaf.”  Most music stores file his stuff under M, which is the one big exception to the traditional rules of filing by last name when it’s a real person.  There is no person named “Jethro Tull” or “Pink Floyd,” so they are filed respectively under “J” and “P”.  Meat Loaf should be filed under “L,” but is not. 

Anyway, the promos for Celebrity Apprentice have been showing over and over, this blowup between Meat Loaf and Gary Busey, where Meat threatens to put him in the hospital in 4 minutes.

So far, I’ve seen none of that.  Meat has been extremely patient and understanding with the insanity that is Gary Busey.  He’s talked to him calmly, tried to smooth over hurt feelings, and even apologized when he clearly wasn’t wrong.  Obviously, The Loaf will run out of patience at some point later this season.

So, what does all this Meat Loaf information have to do with anything?

Well, nothing.  But when you’re scratching for a blog topic that you feel like writing about and your favorite version of “Two Out of Three” comes on the headphones, sometimes inspiration just strikes.

PS. Bonus points for knowing the source of the title.

17 comments:

  1. I loved her when she was on The West Wing. Hot. Hot. Hot.

    And she was hilarious on the roast.

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  2. Im impressed with how since her is on the Apprentice. I did not know he was that likable. And I cannot wait until he kicks Busey's crazy ass

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  3. When I think of Meat Loaf, I think of Rocky Horror. Oh and that song where he's trying to get it on in the car with the girl and it goes on forever.

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  4. If she rarely speaks, how do you know she is funny? Also - Holy Huxtable Sweater, Batman. Wow.

    I love Meat Loaf and have for ever, which Mr. DG cannot understand. I am not nearly as conversant as you in his songs (obviously) but he is great to rock out to.

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  5. I love Marlee Matlin. She is just so adorable. I never could get into Meat Loaf though. One of my ex's loved him, especially 'Paradise By the Dashboard Lights' but I was just kinda, meh. I did, however, love him in 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show.' Is that where the title is from?

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  6. Many good memories from the late 70s on this one, Bluz. Never saw him live, though. And don't forget his acting chops on Wayne's World, Leaf of Faith, and Fight Club. Actually, his IMDB page is quite extensive.

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  7. Meat is one of my favorite singers of all time, up with Otis Redding and Richie Havens. They give me chills, make me laugh,cry, sing, and rejoice in listening.
    Saw the Loaf at a summer tent show in Green Bay. He was/is larger than life with a presence that electrified both place and people.
    He seemed pleased when the audience swayed as one and sang, 'I want you/I need you...two outta three ain't bad.'
    Thanks again for the memories.

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  8. Trash,
    I just love the Comedy Central roasts. It doesn’t even matter who they’re roasting, I spend an hour and a half laughing myself silly. I laughed so hard at the Trump roast I think I pulled an abdominal muscle.

    I sure miss Greg Giraldo though… he was always killer.

    Yes, she was great on West Wing, which remains one of my all time favorite TV series. And it was perfect for the 2000s, because I got to pretend that I had respect for the President.

    Paige,
    I’m going to make a prediction right now, that Marlee wins Celebrity Apprentice. Not only is she doing well so far, the fact that she appeared on the Trump roast tells me her time on Apprentice was significant. They might have tipped their hand by putting her on the roast.

    And I was glad to see that The Loaf isn’t acting like a raging asshole, like they were intimating on that promo. I can tell you that when I met him during a meet-n-greet after one of his concerts, he was so nice to everyone he met. He took time to talk with you and looked you in the eye while doing it. With some artists, you can tell that they hate that shit and would rather be anywhere else but mixing with the “commoners.” Meat looked like he was having a ball.

    So he’s either a real people-person, or a much better actor than he lets on.

    Jessica,
    In a round-about way, that’s where today’s title came from. In Rocky Horror Picture Show, Meat’s character, “Eddie” is killed off, and served for dinner. When the dish cover is lifted to make the big reveal, the audience traditionally cries out, “What, Meat Loaf again?”

    The car-makeout song is Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, which was acted out with much gusto by me and various lady-friends out at college bars, with great regularity back in the early 80s.

    DG,
    Her interpreter was pretty funny, so unless he was winging it, I give her the credit.

    She also had a funny ad-lib bit in the boardroom w/ Trump, when he was “tsk-ing her about how she didn’t know who Dionne Warwick was.

    Trump: How do you not know this living legend?
    Matlin: (with a look that says, “duh,”) I’m deaf

    The Loaf made an unfortunate sweater choice that evening, I agree. Made him look like an old couch.

    I’m probably one of the few that has all the non-Bat Out of Hell Meat Loaf albums, so I’m a bit of a savant when it comes to his stuff. Even with mediocre material, the guy still brings it…

    Raven,
    A lot of women never got into Meat Loaf, because he was never one of those pinup glamour guys. He was very big and very weird, what with always wearing a tuxedo in concert (in the early days.) I’ll certainly allow that he is an “acquired taste.”

    And yes, the title is from a traditional audience response to Rocky Horror. Congrats for nailing it.

    Bagger,
    Welcome back to civilization Mr. Bagger! Glad to have you back. (I’m just finishing up your new post, as I write this.)

    I remember the roles from Leap of Faith, Wayne’s World and a couple others but I haven’t seen any of the ones where he had much bigger roles.

    I’ve seen him 3 times in concert. Consulting the Concert Spreadsheet:
    June 1989, at an outdoor place in downtown Cleveland called “Nautica.” (at least it was, then.) He didn’t have a record label at that moment, so that was one of two shows during my time in Cleveland that I had to pay to see a show. It was totally worth it.

    November 1993, the Boston show. That one wasn’t even his actual tour, just a “warm-up” date, where he played for about 3 hours, nothing but hits.

    Lastly, June of 1994 at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (Big outdoor pavilion w/ lots of lawn seating). This was his actual Bat Out of Hell 2 Tour. The Boston show was better. But he still worked the crowd like a master showman.

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  9. Mary Ann,
    I remember that you were there that first time I played that album in the living room. I didn’t think you were listening, then at the end of Paradise, you said to me, “Prayin’ for the end of time, huh?” And you didn’t even have the lyric sheet…

    OK, everyone hands up; anyone whose parents have been to a Meat Loaf concert… without you.

    Anyone? Anyone? Whoo, I win.

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  10. 'We were doubleh Blessed...'
    MEAT Rules.

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  11. I ADORE Marlee Matlin, and I've always wanted to meet Meat Loaf so I can have the privilege of saying, "I'm your biggest fan, Mr. Loaf."

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  12. Wait... Busey again? Is trump going green and recycling celebs? I thought Marlee Matlin was on it several years back too? Maybe I am just confused. Sigh.

    I could never really get into Meat Loaf. I mean, I respect the voice and his talent but I think the radio stations ruined it all for me when they wouldn't stop playing "I'd do Anything For Love" in the early 90s. After that, I wanted nothing to do with him.

    Miss you too, darlin'. I am so bogged down I barely read anyone unless they hunt me down and tell me to read :(

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  13. I love that insurance company ad with a picture of Meatloaf in it!!

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  14. Mrs. Bachelor Girl,
    I so much wanted to tell Mr. Loaf about how his tape was my bad weather lucky charm, but at that time and place, with so many people waiting to meet him, I didn’t want to take up his time with some long involved story.

    I know; I was an idiot. Totally should have done it.

    Miley,
    Yay! Miley’s back!
    You probably have Marlee in recent memory because she was on Dancing With the Stars a few seasons back. She’s never been on Celebrity Apprentice. Busey had his own reality show for a brief time on (I think) MTV. (I think it was called something like “Surviving Busey.”)

    Since I never listen to the radio, I don’t get a sense of when they overplay. And I hate repetition, which is one of the reasons I rarely listened to Top 40, even as a kid. (Well maybe for a brief period in the mid 70s.) But I quickly found the merits of making tapes and playing my own music. That way I could control the repetition.

    Judie,
    Riiiight… the one with Spiderman’s editor in it… Juno’s father. That guy always cracks me up.

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  15. Miley's just making a guest appearance lol. I promise that I will try to stop by more often.

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  16. "Celebrity Apprentice" is all unbearable bickering and making sure each of them has made it clear to the project manager that they don't agree with what he or she is doing. So obviously I really look forward to it, and I think this season's crop of celebrities is the best, because I actually know who all of them are. Well, except for that one model.

    Anyway, I want Meat Loaf to win. The fact that he cried multiple times over his charity as project manager is enough for me. And I really feel like he's the most level-headed person there. (I looooooooved Niki, too, but, well, you know.) Plus, I just love hearing people call him "Meat" like a real first name.

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  17. Mundane,
    In my prior department at work, my boss's boss's boss said she used to watch The (non-Celebrity) Apprentice for management tips. I said, "What, you want to learn how to manage a bunch of clowns that are trying to screw each other and kiss your ass at the same time?"

    OK, I may not have said that out loud...

    Nicki was entirely too nice for that show. I've never seen anyone just fall on the sword like that, rather than blame their team. Perhaps she just wanted to get out of the nuthouse.

    Meat is all heart, that's what I think. Like I said, he's shown amazing consideration and compassion to that whackaloon Busey, considering we know he's going to threaten to put him in the hospital in a later episode.

    I, for one, would NOT want to be in the path of Meat Bomb, when he finally explodes.

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