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January 2nd, 2007

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11:52 am - That's no way to treat an expensive musical instrument!
It's long after 11:00, and I've only just started my first cup of coffee.

If this were a Saturday morning, I'd be doing remarkably well. As things stand, it's the Tuesday following a long weekend. I've been at work for well over three hours, and I'm not feeling that spectacular. The late coffee is the fault of the company that stocks our vending machines, who apparently completely underestimated the demand for coffee on New Year's Day. We work at a minimal staffing level on national holidays, which means that the only department operating yesterday was Customer Service. I don't really know our CS department, but I can tell just by looking that they have the lowest mean age of any department in the building, which suggests that they probably needed that coffee after Sunday night. It was all gone when I came in this morning, and somebody had made a big production out of leaving the coffee maker disassembled and the coffee drawer open and messy to draw attention to the shortage. Presumably the Vending Machine Guy has been here and fixed it. Either that, or somebody went downstairs to the executive coffee supply and stole some of theirs. Frankly, it's probably the latter.

Incidentally, our executive offices are on the ground floor, which makes more sense to me than sticking them in the penthouse; executives have a strong self-preservation instinct, and this puts them closer to the fire exits.

The other thing ruining my morning is Jim Steinman's Bad for Good. I know that some of you (hi ribsinbacon!) know plenty about Mr. Steinman and his work, but I'll ask the rest of you to indulge me for a few sentences while I oversimplify a little history for you. You might not know Jim Steinman by name, but you've certainly heard his music: He wrote the songs It's all Coming Back to Me Now and Total Eclipse of the Heart, popularized by Celine Dion and Bonnie Tyler (respectively). Steinman is more often recognized, however, for his work with Meat Loaf. The two met in 1977 during auditions for a musical Steinman had written, and he immediately recognized Meat Loaf's voice as a perfect match for the bombastic, Wager-inspired rock music he'd been working on. Their collaboration yielded 1977's enormously successful Bat Out of Hell, and a working relationship which produced numerous other hits. In general, Meat Loaf and Steinman get ignored when they're working on their own, but anything they produce together has a remarkably high -- if only temporary -- level of cultural resonance.

So anyway, in 1981 Steinman was ready to follow up Bat Out of Hell, but he thought Meat Loaf's voice was in bad shape after constant touring. He'd always wanted to record a solo album, so he decided to do his own vocals for Bad for Good. I'm listening to this album for the first time this morning, and there's something wrong with it, but I can't quite put my finger on the problem. Part of it might be that the album sounds unoriginal -- the very first track is a clumsy reworking of the best parts of Bat Out of Hell, and I recognize most of the rest of the songs from subsequent Meat Loaf albums, where they sounded better. I can't fault Steinman for that -- musicians who redo their earlier work to "get it right" usually succeed (filmmakers don't, however), but even the songs I don't already know sound somehow thin and under-imagined. It might be the production, though Todd Rundgren produced both Bat Out of Hell and Bad for Good.

Meat Loaf has the ability to lend an unlikely level of gravity Steinman's anthemic, flamboyant songs, which keeps them from sounding silly. I don't want to believe that the problem is just in the vocals, but the adolescent pettiness of the lyrics -- lyrics which seem much more dignified on Meat Loaf albums -- is starkly exposed here. Consider, for example, the monologue Love and Death and an American Guitar, which was retitled Wasted Youth and rerecorded by Steinman for Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell II.

I remember everything!

I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday.

I was barely seventeen, and I once killed a boy with a Fender guitar.

I don't remember if it was a Telecaster or a Stratocaster,
but I do remember that it had a heart of chrome and a voice like a horny angel.

I don't remember if it was a Telecaster or a Stratocaster,
but I do remember that it wasn't at all easy.
It required the perfect combination of the right power chords
and the precise angle from which to strike.

The guitar bled for about a week afterward,
and the blood was so dark and rich,
like wild berries.
The blood of the guitar was Chuck Berry red.

The guitar bled for about a week afterward,
but it rung out beautifully and I was able to play notes
that I had never even heard before.
So I took my guitar, and I smashed it against the wall.
I smashed it against the floor, I smashed it against the body of a varsity cheerleader.
Smashed it against the hood of a car, smashed it against a 1981 Harley Davidson.

The Harley howled in pain.

The guitar howled in heat, and I ran up the stairs to my parents' bedroom.
Mommy and Daddy were sleeping in the moonlight.
Slowly I opened the door, creeping in the shadows
right up to the foot of their bed.
I raised the guitar high above my head,
and just as I was about to bring the guitar
crashing down upon the center of the bed,
my father woke up, screaming "Stop! Wait a minute! Stop it boy!
What do ya think you're doin'?
That's no way to treat an expensive musical instrument!"

And I said: "Goddammit Daddy!
You know I love you, but you got a hell of a lot to learn about Rock 'n Roll!"

Is that guy kidding, or what?
Current Mood: groggygroggy
Current Music: Jim Steinman -- Dance in My Pants

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:January 2nd, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC)
The moment I read the title, I thought about Meatloaf. Sweet!

I knew there was a Bonnie Tyler / Meatloaf connection, but I didn't realize it was Steinman. Also sweet.

Didn't she team up with Meatloaf for I Would Do Anything for Love? Whoever it is, she's uncredited (or at least unnamed), but it sure sounds like her. All I know is that whoever it was in the video, she wasn't the singer.

[User Picture]
Date:January 2nd, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't have known this if you hadn't asked, but Wikipedia tells me that the female vocals on I Would Do Anything for Love were done by Lorraine "Mrs. Loud" Crosby. I don't know if they Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler ever worked together, but they'd make very suitable collaborators.

So you're into Meat Loaf too, huh? Didn't know that. I love his stuff. I think it's the direction rock and roll would have taken if not for the British Invasion of the early '60s. So um, what do Meat Loaf fans call themselves? If Greatful Dead fans are Deadheads, and Phish phans are Phishheads, does that make us Meatheads?
[User Picture]
Date:January 3rd, 2007 01:38 am (UTC)
Hm... I dunno. I feel like a meathead, especially lately.

I only have Bat out of Hell II. I'd like more, but I don't have any. I practically had that Wasted Youth thing memorized, though.

I'm suddenly afriad that I'm a Meatloaf fan like I'm a NIN fan, and that there are people who know the catalogue better and going to a concert would leave me totally lost and make me determine that I'm not really a fan at all. Not that he's touring. You get the idea.

[User Picture]
Date:January 3rd, 2007 04:56 am (UTC)
Bat Out of Hell III just came out on Halloween, so he might be touring but it would take someone with more ambition than me to find out. I only tried listening to the album once and couldn't get into it, but this happens to me A LOT. Generally I will set something aside for a few months, and when I come back to it, it's brilliant.

I love Meat Loaf, but I only really know Bat Out of Hell and Bat Out of Hell II. I've heard some of his other albums, but I can't criticize them because I haven't listened in enough depth to have a good opinion. You should check him out.
[User Picture]
Date:January 3rd, 2007 05:29 am (UTC)
Seriously, there's another album out? HOW DID I MISS THIS?!

Maybe it's no coincidence then that he was singing in Pick of Destiny. That man still knows how to rock.

I think I'll be picking this up tomorrow.

[User Picture]
Date:January 3rd, 2007 03:29 pm (UTC)
He was quite spectacular in Kickapoo. Would you like a copy of the soundtrack? (This goes for either you or Colin or both)

I listened to Meatloaf alot when I was younger because well my mom loved him. So I've listened to Bat Out of Hell and Bat Out of Hell 2.

One of my favorite memories is of a bride and groom doing karoke to "Paradise By The Dashboard Light". We have that on tape.
[User Picture]
Date:January 3rd, 2007 04:20 pm (UTC)
I first misread this as "my mom lived with him", which would have just blown my socks off. If I were wearing socks. Which I'm not.

Garmonbozia for the soul.

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