The Perks of Being Meat Loaf

I’m a huge Meat Loaf fan. When I’m writing I usually listen to the same selection of music for a particular project – my novel Convoy was Guns n Roses, and I wrote my first TEGG story to Hollywood Vampires – but if I’m working on something other than word creation/editing and need general background music, it’s probably Meat Loaf. Say what you will about the guy’s voice today – he’s almost 70, so cut him some slack – but he’s a friggin legend, still sounds awesome and gives it his all, and his music is brilliant if you’re a fan of classic rock.

His concerts are fun to listen to or watch, and I go back to them sometimes if I need a little energy boost. I was at the Meat Loaf concert here in Ottawa in June, and the energy in the amphitheater was electric – you get a taste of that watching the video. The thing that has always astounded me are the clips where he’s playing one of his all-time classics, like “Bat Out of Hell” or “Paradise,” and you see and hear the incredible reaction from the audience. There are a couple moments from more recent concerts where Meat Loaf just stands there, awash in the energy from his fans, and watching it I think to myself, “Damn, that must be something incredible to feel.”

I get a tiny microcosm of that sometimes: when I see former students in the halls beaming just from bumping into me, and the rare occasion when someone says, “Hey I read your story (or this blog) and I loved it!” The kind of adoration that a legend like Meat Loaf receives is something I’ll probably never achieve – not just because rock stars and writers are very different, but also because I’m not shooting for it. I’d rather have something a bit different. My analogue to what Meat Loaf gets is what I hope for down the road in my career: attending conferences and seeing fellow writers I’ve been working alongside for decades, people who I’ve forged a connection with based on mutual respect of each other’s work and similar sensibilities. We’ll share a drink or meal over the weekend and chat about what we’re all up to before going to some event, and then message each other on threads to remind ourselves that writing isn’t actually an isolating profession. I like to think I’m at the start of that, now that I’ve gotten around to a few cons, but the benefit to being a known face (and known for being good people) is to enter a conference and know you’re with friends and peers, accepted the way a rock star like Meat Loaf feels accepted by an amphitheater full of fans. Sitting here musing and listening to Bat Out of Hell, I think I’ll take my end goal over what Meat Loaf gets at his concerts.

Not that I would say no to being him for a day. Just to get a taste.

***

Speaking of cons – Can*Con registration is now open! I’m on the programming team again this year, which means I know who are Guests of Honor will be 🙂 Stay tuned for details on Twitter (@CanConSF) or on our website: http://can-con.org/cc/

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2 thoughts on “The Perks of Being Meat Loaf

  1. Great post, Brandon! I agree! He’s a good singer, a complex lyricist who writes about what it means to be human. I have a small confession to make, though, from back in my Raised by Baptists Days. My parents had taken me to every “Rock Music is the Devil” seminar you could go to–although, there were beginning to be Christian alternatives like Petra. Anyway, because of my extensive time sitting through these awful seminars, and being frightened, I was the person my parents came to when they wanted to know what was acceptable for Christian kids in popular culture. My brother had slipped two albums in my parents’ cart at TG&Y or K-Mart: Styx’s Mr. Roboto and Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell. Being the good Christian kid I was, I pointed to the sticker on Styx’s album confessing to backmasking (a then popular buzzword among frightened parents who thought that Satanists could write harmful programming into teens backwards into the music—Styx used the sticker as a joke, but it backfired) and I took one look at the cover of Bat Out of Hell and gave it my best Jesus eye: it was literally a bat flying out of HELL, Mom. I told my mom that my brother’s soul was at stake here–and we both knew it–and so we put his albums back in the record department. I don’t know what Mom told him, but I felt as if I had rescued Jeff that day from damnation. Years later I heard a Meatloaf song—“I’d do Anything for Love” and then years later I heard the album, Bat out of Hell, and I felt such a wave of remorse. Hearing it, I knew it was beautiful. Well written. Poignant. If anything could have helped my brother during high school not feel alone in his alienation, in making mistakes and feeling judged for them, it was Meatloaf. And I was the goody turd-brain who denied him that. I was a willing extension of the culture war–my parents needed me to give them insight–and I just reflected back what the seminars had taught me. They trusted me to get it right, but I’d been taught that if it looked evil, it was evil. I know better now. But I wish I could have slipped my brother those albums before–or told my mom that the cover art was fierce, but the singer and songwriter were deep and good. That Jeff had nothing to worry about–that it would be good for him. But like many issues for a boy of 14, I knew nothing. And as a family, we were all blind together navigating the world. Hoping to get it right. Mealoaf could probably make a great song out of that. 🙂

    • Wow, that’s a powerful story, Jerome. I was lucky in that my parents (for better or worse, really, depending on perspective) were pretty much on the other side of that, blasting Meat Loaf and Creedence and other rock in the car while I was still young. I’m still discovering new things from Meat Loaf – somehow I had never listened to the entire Dead Ringer for Love album until recently. It’s amazing how a single artist (or a pairing, since it’s Meat Loaf singing and Jim Steinman writing in many cases) can have such a profound effect.

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