Saturday, January 28, 2017

Meat Loaf - Everything Louder Than Everything Else

1977 was a good year for Meat Loaf and the gang, “Bat Out of Hell” was a super hit and the world tours that followed were smash hits. But things were turning ugly. Meat Loaf partied and toured himself to exhaustion and began to lose his voice, also he made numerous enemies in the music industry that poisoned his and Jim Steinman’s ability to get a proper record production going. Slowly but surely Meat Loaf sank into obscurity.

Most stories like this one would end here. A huge flash in the pan and then some casual world tours with a loyal but fleeting fan base, luckily for Meat Loaf and his fans, his fate would be very different from this.

After four albums that flopped, though one is an arguable exception, Meat Loaf was gaining an impressive amount of traction touring Europe and growing his cult following. Someone advised Meat Loaf do the obvious thing and regroup with Jim Steinman, the mastermind songwriter behind “Bat Out of Hell” and see if they could once again reignite the fire of that first album.

Again, normally, the story would end with a flat dud, but this is not one of those stories.

Steinman decide they should create “Bat Out of Hell 2: Back Into Hell.” In some ways, the second installment of Bat Out of Hell was very much an attempt to return to form of the original. In some ways “Bat Out of Hell 2” was a unique and special experiment. In most ways, the album was showcase of Jim Steinman songs that had previous been recorded by other artist and lost to the sands of time. For this last reason critics panned the album, believing no one could enjoy a rehashing of Steinman’s mostly failed endeavours; but what do they know? The general public strongly disagreed, and they loved the hit single “I Would Do Anything for Love.”

“I Would Do Anything for Love” is a wholly original song, and while inspiring the same sort of over the top drama for stark raving love that we had seen before, there had never been anything in the Meat Loaf or Jim Steinman playlist quite like it, there had never really been anything ever like “I Would Do Anything for Love.” Logically it became a number one hit song and the album was a huge success, and Meat Loaf became a legend.

I guess one could argue that “I Would Do Anything for Love” is a touch on the sappy side, what with it being so direct in proclamation of extreme love, and while that is part of it’s charm I am not going to dwell any longer on this song, because unbeknownst to most the best song off of “Bat Out of Hell 2” is “Everything Louder Than Everything Else.”

“Everything Louder Than Everything Else” is another completely original song from Steinman and it is very different than the passionate love songs, and is perhaps I a little more akin to the original “Bat Out of Hell” song itself, only instead of focusing on a street gang fighter’s motor bike crash, this song is an ode to the joy of life, lust and rock and roll.

On the album before “Everything Louder Than Everything Else” begins, a poem read by Steinman plays titled “Wasted Youth,” which is interesting because the turn of phrase “a wasted youth is better by far, than a wise and productive old age,” is present in “Everything Louder Than Everything Else.”

“I remember everything!
I remember everything little thing, as if it happened 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 angel from which to strike!

The guitar bled for about a week afterwords,
And the blood was zoot, dark and rich, like wild berry's.
The blood of the guitar was Chuck Berry red.
The guitar bled for about a week afterwords,
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 you think your doing?’
‘That's no way to treat an expensive musical instrument.’
And I said, ‘God Damn It daddy,’
‘You know I love you, but you've got a hell of a lot to learn about Rock n' Roll.’”

This poem/intro was original recorded on Jim Steinman’s solo album “Bad For Good” only titled as “Love, Hate and American Guitar.” It’s presence on the second Bat Out of Hell is highly appropriate given the contents of the song that follows it. The dialogue between father and son fits very well with the whole “wasted youth” theme, and the desire to never fully grow up. Rock and Roll was always in theory a young man’s game, but by the nineties, and even more so now, since even more time has passed, we have seen great rock legends age and mellow, but for the most part they never lost that youthful joy of sex, drug and rock and roll, or at the very least they never lost a love for life.

We, the listener are hits with a barrage of witty phrases exemplifying an arrested development and the contrast of joy of partying and enjoying life compared with the dryness of being responsible and pursuing society’s mature goals; and a final thought on all of this is put in the intro to what a bridge:

“But it seems to me to the contrary, of all the crap they're going to put on the page,
That a wasted youth is better by far than a wise and productive old age.”

In a literal sense, we could probably debate the merits of a wasted youth versus a productive one, and as someone who has invested an extraordinary amount of time and energy into being productive I got to say there are regrets. All in all, we have a classic rock song about rebellion and defying expectations and being true to one’s self, the very essence of rock and roll. “Everything Louder Than Everything Else” is a very upbeat song, and is one of the tunes I often turn to get some positive energy into my mind. There is this focus on what really matters and it is not all about power, health, glory, or wealth.

Until next month keep on rocking in the free world.

- King of Braves

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