Spirit Matters: Meat Loaf, musical memories to last lifetimes

This Friday morning, I woke up to hear a musical icon whose work led to spirited group sing along sessions across generations, has died.

I’m not sure how old I was when I first listened to Meat Loaf’s, “Bat Out of Hell” album.

It debuted in 1977, and I’m thinking I heard it first in the late 80s, when I would have been in my late teens. I know it was a staple in my circle of McDonald’s coworker friends into the early 90s, as we would sit around the table at a friend’s house playing Euchre — or, at “other” parties — and have marathon sing-a-long sessions to this long winded and drama-filled album that caught the imagination of anyone who heard it.

The album – er, cassette – was almost always first on deck after the doors were locked and the closing crew let loose while cleaning up for the night.

When I first heard it, 30 plus years ago, the album seemed old then.

Now, approaching 50, it seems like just yesterday Meat Loaf’s over-the-top music and persona, captivated my young heart and mind. Most people, when they hear any of his music now, are instantly transported back to happier, more carefree times.

In fact, a few months ago, I was eating in a Streator restaurant with my mom and my niece when “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” began blasting over the speakers. Of course, as I ate my food and listened to it, I was able to sing along in my head to the lyrics, without missing a beat. I hadn’t heard the song in a long time, so *really* listening to the lyrics now, as a grown woman with 30 plus years of “adulting” under my belt, and thinking about how pervasive this album was in my teen years, well — let’s just say, I’d forgotten somewhat what it was like to be a teenager …

I couldn’t help but post about it on social media when I got home, to numerous nostalgic responses.

Those lyrics and those memories that go along with them will never die.

In 1993, Meat Loaf released “Bat out of Hell II,” with its most popular “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that,” another musical odyssey whose meaning some people are still trying to figure out in January 2022.

This was just before I moved out of my parents’ house to Bloomington-Normal. At the time, I was very health conscious and had taken up a regular walking regimen, along with a healthy diet. So, I had a lot of energy. I guess it’s OK to admit it now … I would often go into my brother’s room in the basement, pop in this song, and dance to it. With no one around, of course. It was the perfect song to dance to, even for those of us who aren’t kinesthetically inclined. You could jump and move and flail about any way you wanted and it matched the music just fine … I’m just glad this was all before the advent of smartphone video capabilities.

Indeed, although Meat Loaf might not be classified in musical categories with acts like The Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street band, his music has left an indelible mark on multiple generations already, and I’m guessing now, with his death, will be reintroduced to a whole new line of generations.

As it should be.

My brother described it well in his post that Meat Loaf had died, calling his music #timelessawesomeness.

I don’t often say this when it comes to any of my brothers, but I couldn’t agree more.

Rest in peace, Mr. Loaf.

You certainly left your mark.

  • SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at jzblue33@yahoo.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and community.