Monday, August 11, 2003

Things I Hate (first in a series)

It is important to not only praise that which is worthy of praise, but to scorn and ridicule that which is most unworthy, most heinous, vile and truly evil. Today, I heap righteous indignation and actual, visceral hate at a target most worthy: Meat Loaf. Not the man himself, nor the beef and bread concoction from which he took his name (though, I must say, the foodstuff is in itself a vile thing, yet not truly hate-worthy). In fact, I wish to praise The Loaf for his portrayal of Robert Paulson in Fight Club, where he did not hide from his tremendous Man Boobs and the comfort they provide. No, today's diatribe is reserved for that most vile of recordings, the indefensible Bat Out Of Hell.

First, before anyone's panties get in a bunch, I will not be commenting on the craftsmanship of the recording, as The Loaf gives his all and the band and backup singers are also at the top of their game. Here-here, huzzah and all that. What I am still trying to understand is why oh why anyone would want to listen to it at all.

A bit of history is important here to understand my hatred of BOOH. I grew up in a town of 12,000 or so; the cultural backwater of Lebanon, NH, where it seemed every high school girl discovered Meat Loaf and took him to be their personal savior. It meant that at any social gathering, at some point, day or night, indoors or outdoors, Meat Loaf made an appearance. Every single social event between 13 and 18 involved, at minimum, an all girl sing-along to "Paradise By The Dashboard Light." Now this song is eight minutes plus of torturous faux-fifties Grease inspired theatrical claptrap, with a Phil Rizzuto play-by-play and some moments of guitar power chord bombast, all with an almost bossa nova "Baby let me sleep on it" bridge, followed by much screaming, and me drooling and crying, my musical tastes in some sort of sugar-induced insulin coma, chanting, mantra like, the lines:

I'm praying for the end of time
It's all that I can do
Praying for the end of time,
So I can end my time with you.

This happened at every social gathering, rain or shine. Now, I have always liked theatrics, but I shy away from histrionics. This album is a painful, grating, extremely histrionic brand of theatricality. Instead of Elvis' pleading and passionate "I want you, I need you, I love you" you get the oh so subversive "I want you, I need you, But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you. Now don't be sad, 'cause two out of three ain't bad." Yes it is! It's horrible, trite, weak and plodding! (that's four for four!) Oh so original, oh so brilliant, oh did Jim Steinman write the book for that witty pox on the theater, Urinetown?(Apparently, Shitsville and Skank Hollow were already taken as titles of that inspired bit of Satire.)

There is some justice in the world, and that justice was served by me, asshole that I am. This is, sadly enough, a very proud and haughty moment in my personal history that I am now sharing with you all. Let me set the stage, so to speak. In high school, after some knee injuries and the realization that I was not gifted with great athletic prowess, I joined up with the Drama Club (Honest moment - there were a few girls I found attractive that were in the club, so there were ulterior motives). Alas, the Drama Club also came with the aforementioned "Meat Loaf Moments." So, for three years I endured The Loaf stoically, at every post performance party or set building afternoon. That ended my senior year, when I had some power over the younger whelps who had run afoul of our cursed crew.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and music was playing as we constructed the sets. I had been trying to influence the group through mixed tapes, with songs by Jane's Addiction, Iggy Pop, The Time, The Cure, Mudhoney and whatever other favorites I had at the time (does anyone still have a copy of my "Ill met by Moonlight..." mix?). However, mixed tapes were only good for a few hours at most, and then people would tire and want to play "their own music." So we would listen to Billy Jo-el (Kal-el's hillbilly cousin), Simon & Garfunkel, Bad Company, and, inevitably, Meat Loaf. These "other people" didn't understand my loathing, or to what lengths I would go to stop BOOH. The mistake they made was the compact disc. Unlike a tape, with enough effort and vibration a CD will skip like a motherfucker. So, in my infinite petty wisdom, I chose to jump up and down, near the CD player, and the vibrations from my then 220 lb. frame sent the CD into a tizzy. I didn't stop jumping until the CD just stopped playing altogether. They begged and pleaded, and in my madness, I said, "If you insist on playing Meat Loaf, I will insist on jumping and causing it to skip each and every time. There is no compromise." Which immediately caused a girl to cry, with great rivulets of tears and snot-filled sobs. This caused multiple young women to leave the room, crying and comforting each other. I was so proud of the pain I caused them, and I am still glad, and it brings a smile to my face to this day.

I hate Bat Out Of Hell. I truly, truly do.

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