Colin Timothy Gagnon (sacredspud) wrote,
Colin Timothy Gagnon

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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?
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