Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) by Meat Loaf

Somewhere between Broadway show tunes, 1970s rock, and the melodrama of opera there is Meat Loaf.

I genuinely love Meat Loaf as a musician and actor. Sometimes articles about Meat Loaf and reviews look at him as a guilty pleasure, something that you know is not very good but you enjoy regardless.

The more I think about it, the more I dislike the idea of a guilty pleasure. It implies that you are ashamed of liking something. The only way that you can explain your love of a guilty pleasure is by admitting to people it isn’t very good so you aren’t embarrassed. But you should never feel embarrassed for enjoying a piece of art. And if someone makes fun of you for liking something they think is garbage, it’s there loss.

I’m here to say that Meat Loaf is a fantastic singer and his music, most of which was written by Jim Steinmen (who was also responsible for “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” and “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”) creates masterful, remarkable and powerful pop music. I don’t us the term “pop music” as a derogatory term but rather as a way approach this piece of art. Art needs to be analyzed for what it is, not what it’s not. The strength of a song is determined by uncovering the intention of an artist and then, figuring out how well they did that.

If someone is making a horror film and it’s really scary, it’s a great movie. If someone intends to make a romantic comedy and you analyze it as a horror movie, it’s not going to get very good reviews.

The reason why I’m starting my look at Meat Loaf with “I Would Do Anything For Love” is because this was my introduction to Meat Loaf and the world of Jim Steinmen. I agree that Bat Out Of Hell is a better album, but it was Bat Out Of Hell II and the lead single “I Would Do Anything For Love” that captured my imagination as an 11-year-old as one of the most influential albums in my life.

Let me get the obvious and over-discussed question out of the way. When Meat Loaf sings, “I would do anything for love but I won’t do that,” he is saying he would do anything to feel love and be loved except for cheat on his girlfriend and have an affair.  Meat Loaf played around with this during interviews of the time but it doesn’t really take much explication to figure out what this song is about.

The lyrics are very straightforward. In other songs like “Bat Out Of Hell,” Steinmen layers imagery and symbolism to create passionate melodrama.  In this song, it’s just one person stating his commitment to love and the lines he’s not willing to cross. In describing  there’s something he wouldn’t do for love, it defines what love truly is and the relationship that he holds sacred.

Yes, this is a long song. The trimmed down single version is about eight minutes and the album version is twelve minutes long. Is that too long? I find it interesting when people talk about how big a deal a song longer than five minutes is in pop music when movements in classical music often are at longer lengths. Yes, it can be reasonably argued that there are places that this song could be cut down, but if you put aside any expectations of length and let this song reveal itself, it really works at its longer length.

Meat Loaf is a powerful singer and a magnetic performer. Here is a performer who can’t possibly put more into every note he sings. His rich, intense, tortured voice is unlike anything in pop music. “I Would Do Anything For Love” is the perfect marriage of a song to a performer. There’s no one else who could really sell the melodrama of this song. When Meat Loaf sings “no one else can save me now but you,” it’s heartbreaking.

I’m convinced that often we stand in the way of letting ourselves enjoy art. We tell ourselves that things aren’t good, or that because something fits within a stereotype that we won’t like it. When we do this we make it so that we can’t enjoy something. If all you do in life is focus on the multitude of reason to not enjoy something, than that’s all you are left with.

If you don’t like this song. That’s fine, but make sure that you don’t like it for the right reasons.

People didn’t want to admit that they loved this song when it was out. I didn’t understand back then why people couldn’t celebrate their love of this song and I still don’t quite get it. Be proud. Music is not about being cool or going with the crowd. It’s about reveling in your own passion and through someone else’s expression, experiencing part of yourself.

I’m proud to say that Meat Loaf’s music continues to take me to that beautiful place where passion and love reigns supreme. There’s no social commentary and there’s no instruments or musical techniques that draw attention to themselves as musical innovations. It’s a fantasy world where all you need is love and the power of melodrama sweeps away cynicism and leaves you with the grandeur and magic of rock music.

1 comment:

  1. and some days it don't come easy.
    and some days it don't come hard.
    and some days it don't come at all
    and these are the days that never end --

    I defy anyone to say that they have never felt like that. I would do anything for love.