A Song I Love – Paradise By the Dashboard Light – Meat Loaf

Ain’t no doubt about it, we were doubly blessed
Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed
Ain’t no doubt about it, baby got to go and shout it
Ain’t no doubt about it, we were doubly blessed
Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed

Meat Loaf* (born Marvin Lee Aday) first came screaming into many people’s consciousness as “Eddie, the ex-delivery boy” in the cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show. (This played for years and years in Cambridge at midnight and is, in fact, is still enjoying midnight showings in a theater about an hour west of Boston.) If you’ve never seen Rocky Horror or the Loafmeister’s brief over-the-top appearance, it’s worth a view:

Prior to this, the Loafman had a band called Meat Loaf Soul. During the recording of their first song, he hit a note so high that he managed to blow a fuse on the recording monitor. He was immediately offered three recording contracts, which he turned down.

Meat Loaf Soul’s first gig was in Huntington Beach, CA opening for Van Morrison’s band, Them. Later, the band was the opening act for Renaissance (imagine the culture clash), Taj Mahal and Janis Joplin. As Floating Circus, they opened for the Who, the Fugs, the Stooges, MC5, Grateful Dead and the Grease Band. Then Meat Loaf joined the Los Angeles production of Hair. (Aday had been acting since high school.)

It was at a play that Herr Loafington met composer Jim Steinman. In 1977, they were touring together in a National Lampoon show and, based on songs Steinman was writing for a musical about Peter Pan (!!), decided to see if they could land a recording contract. They were rejected (for 2 1/2 years) by everyone including the vaunted Clive Davis who said Steinman knew nothing about writing rock music.

They finally convinced a small label called Cleveland International to sign them. For once, Clive Davis’ instincts failed him, at least in a commercial sense. Produced by Todd Rundgren, Bat Out of Hell is one of the best-selling albums of all time, having sold over 43 million copies worldwide. Rolling Stone ranked it at number 343 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003.

And so we come to “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” essentially a song about a teenage boy trying to score with a teenage girl who wants more of a commitment, i.e., put a ring on it. (Ah, the age-old story.)

I like the album but I love this song. It’s just a great piece of rock and roll drama, well-sung and well-performed. Meaty duets here with American actress/singer Ellen Foley who – in addition to a solo career – has sung with everyone from the Clash, to Joe Jackson to Blue Oyster Cult.

Somewhere in the middle of this extravaganza, a play-by-play comes in by former New York Yankees ballplayer and later radio and TV announcer for the team, Phil Rizzuto. When challenged later by a priest as to the salacious nature of the song, Rizzuto claimed he was duped. “Phil was no dummy”, said Mr Loaf. “He knew exactly what was going on, and he told me such. He was just getting some heat from a priest and felt like he had to do something. I totally understood.”

An interesting sidenote is that while the musical styles are somewhat different, Steinman – who wrote literally the entire album – admitted that he was inspired in part by Bruce Springsteen. And in fact, Springsteen’s keyboardist Roy Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg play on the album. (As does Edgar Winter.)

In fact, all of those estimable gentlemen play on this song as does Todd Rundgren (guitar) who also adds background vocals. And so yes, that is the mighty, mighty Max Weinberg powering the band through this epic, this sexual odyssey, this – this – this ode to shameless teenage lust.

“It was long ago and it was far away
And it was so much better than it is today”

Spotify link

While researching this piece I found out that a musical based on Bat Out of Hell opened at the Manchester (England, England, across the Atlantic Sea) Opera House on February 17, 2017, before transferring to the London Coliseum and Toronto, Canada’s Ed Mirvish Theatre in late 2017.

Since April 2, 2018, it has been running at the Dominion Theatre, London, with plans to run the show in parallel in Germany and touring the USA in 2019. 

As to Meat Loaf, he has some bad back problems (common for rock and rollers who put everything into it) that make him have to use a walker. He doesn’t know if he’ll be able to sing again. So we’ll have to settle for his bastard child, Jack Black. 😀

*A football coach gave him this name due to his weight. Imagine being an entertainer named for a dinner. Hmmm. come to think of it, I’d like my stage name to be Bangers and Mash (with mushy peas.)

Sources: Wikipedia; Rolling Stone.

24 thoughts on “A Song I Love – Paradise By the Dashboard Light – Meat Loaf

  1. Great history on Meat Loaf and this song/album, Jim. Hard to believe he once opened for the likes of Renaissance and the Fugs (though I can see a slight connection with the Fugs). I had a roommate in college who loved this record. I was into Hendrix and the Doors at the time and hated it. But in hindsight, you’re right, it has great drama, humor, and production by Todd. “What’s it gonna be, boy??”

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    1. I’ve lost count of the number of albums I’ve either disliked or hated then loved. Sometimes it’s just a mental block, with me anyway. Then I (sometimes) wind up saying, Damn I like this! I’ve seen videos of Meat Loaf doing this and boy, they put everything into it. I always learn something new. I didn’t know Springsteen’s guys were on this nor did I know that Bat Out of Hell was a musical. Frankly, that sounds like good stupid fun.

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  2. As weird as he is in some ways and as overproduced as many of his songs are, Meat Loaf has released some smoking hot rock & roll. I feel he created a very distinct brand of music, combining theatrics and rock.

    The “Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a must-see for any rock fan. It’s best to be enjoyed in a movie theater where the audience actively participates, e.g., by throwing slices of toast bread when somebody in the movie says, “a toast please” (can’t remember who it is) and splashing water – I guess during the thunder storm in the beginning of the film. It’s been a long time I experienced it myself! 🙂

    I also dig “Paradise By The Dashboard Light.” The lyrics are just hilarious and, again, you can easily picture the whole scene – another great illustration how Meat Loaf skillfully combined slick music with comedy/theatrics.

    Last but not least, “Bat Out Of Hell” simply is a killer album. It’s too bad Meat Loaf isn’t doing well these days, even though I seem to recall reading a number of years ago that he had lost a significant amount of weight. But I guess there is only so much a human spine can take!

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    1. I’ve only seen the movie on the small screen. At this point, the odds of either my wife or I staying awake for a midnight viewing are nil. Meat Loaf has a hell of a voice, I’ll say that. And from what I’ve seen of him, he’s a dynamite performer. As to his health, yeah I read a whole article about him in Rolling Stone not too long ago. Not in good shape at all.

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  3. I remember seeing Aday on Tom Snyder’s “Tomorrow” show (’79 or ’80?). Aday was wearing a Michigan State jersey, as I recall. Snyder kept blowing smoke in his face and referring to him as “Meat.” It was hilarious.

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    1. That sounds great. Snyder was a trip. I’d love to see that. Let us not forget Mr. Loafington was also on Celebrity Apprentice with our favorite autocrat. I wonder what he thinks.

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    2. Your memory is good. I found the clip and while Meat Loaf is out there, the main interviewee is the guy who held that “I hate disco” night in Chicago where they smashed a bunch of records.

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      1. That clip could have been it, but I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure “Meat” was solo, and had a green MSU jersey. But, it doesn’t matter. Snyder was great. One of the last of the classic “old school” radio/TV hosts, before comedians, propagandists, and Howard Stern-types took over things.

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  4. I can’t say I rate Mr Loaf all too much but this write up was great and I’m still chuckling at the idea of someone calling him “Meaty”.
    Mushy peas, though? Bloody hell

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    1. Meaty, beaty, big and bouncy. Who album, yes? What I like about you folks is you call your food exactly what it is. BTW, thanks for the reception for our beloved president. I think you may have mistaken him for Margaret Thatcher.

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      1. My favourite element of the protest was the “All in all you’re just another prick with no wall” sign. Fuck that orange fool and all he stands for but I think the protest was just as much anti-May and her insidious toadying up to him when he’s so clearly hell bent on shafting everyone

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        1. Heh. That’s great. “No one knows what it’s like/to be hated/to be fated/to telling only lies.” He does. Regardless of who that protest was aimed at, great job. I saw signs that said, “We literally hate you.” BTW, the orange baby is classic. It is coming to America and will first haunt one of his beloved golf courses. Some pro-Trumpster has vowed to pop the balloon and is willing to go to jail. One down. BTW, let me know when you guys make up your minds on Brexit.

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        2. My mind has long been made up on Brexit but I don’t think I’ve ever expressed my opinion on it….
          To be honest the best thing about it is that it’s showing what an appalling decision it was to take an advisory and non-binding referendum and use it as an excuse to push through the personal agendas of a few backward politicians and the resulting chaos is causing the governing Nasty Party to crumble day by day. The bad part is that, as per, it’s the public that get the shafting as the pound continues to tank and the economy shudders.
          But hey: it’s Friday and I’ve got a cold cider in the fridge

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        3. Actually you expressed it quite well when the vote happened. I’m actually glad your government is dithering. Perhaps they’ll call for a vote and you’ll stay within the EU. Of course, you’re on your own now since A) the EU is our foe and B) NATO is shite. Beware Montenegro!!

          And yes, that’s why alcohol was, what, invented? Discovered? FWIW, pot is now legal here in Massachusetts. Once towns get done shooting down the opening of local stores – on a resolution we voted for – I will go get myself a brownie, eat it, slip into a coma and when I come out of it, Trump will be revealed to have been a nightmare I was having.

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        4. I’d check our flight prices but I’m not sure I fancy visiting while that brainless twatgoblin is in charge, he might declare the UK an enemy mid flight

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        5. For all we know he’s monitoring my blog for malcontents like us. 🙂 Hell, they busted Stormy Daniels the other day just to shake her up.

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      1. Poutine is East Coast, I’m a western guy. Buffalo burgers. Back to your take . Ellen Foley was hanging with Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson on an album I dug from the same time. ‘Welcome to the Club’

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        1. Name yer poison. BTW, at a place where I’m working, one of the big shots has “Good, Bad and Ugly” poster on his wall and that’s his phone ring. Thought you’d like that. Never heard of that album. Sounds good. There’s a Hunter song I want to feature called “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.” Do they do that? Good tune

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        2. That’s where I first heard it. Great record. On one of the videos of one of the songs you see Meat in it. ‘We Got To Get Out Of Hee’
          GB and Ugly? Are you kidding? I don’t have enough digits to count how many times I’ve Seen it. Soundtrack? Killer.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Jersey girl just adores this album. Personally, I’d say the Springsteen influence is more than ‘in part’. Sounds like Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town had a love child.

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