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Jun 12

MEAT LOAF – “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”

Popular • 3,167 views

#697, 23rd October 1993

Pretty much since this song came out Meat Loaf, his fans and all around him have taken great rolling eyed pains to disavow the notion that “THAT” might be something a bit dirty. “It’s in the lyrics,” they sigh, “it’s three different cases of ‘that’ which boil down to Meat Loaf denying his feelings – he’s the St Peter of rock, essentially”. (They don’t really say that bit). Anyhow this attempt to paint “I Would Do Anything” as a wronged song, “Born In The USA” but with sexual innuendo instead of patriotism, founders a bit when in the very first second of the video you get “SOMETIMES GOING ALL THE WAY IS JUST THE START”.

Smut aside, I want this record to be more fantastic than it is. I love the idea of Jim Steinman – melodrama as rock’s guiding principle, truth through vulgarity, freedom from any sense of reserve. I think Steinman and Meat Loaf love rock as honourably as anyone you could name – as any punk or stadium rocker going. I love how they take some of the best parts of Springsteen – the visceral, religious yearning for rock and young love to mean something you get on “Jungleland” or “Born To Run” – and make them even more grandiose and abstract.

And yet some of the bits on this which slay on paper seem a bit snatched and undersold on record, the timing slightly off. Steinman keeps doing rule-of-three rhetorical stuff in the lyrics – some days fire, some days ice – then letting them trail off. Doubtless it’s intentional – Steinman does not come over as sloppy – but a big corny song needs that kind of satisfaction. The reason “sex and drums and rock and roll” is a big “fuck yeah!” moment in the song isn’t just the pun, it’s because it’s one of the only times the song brings the rhyme scheme home.

Meat Loaf and his duetee don’t really connect either – though there are so many versions of this song that she might not even be in the single edit. And while the lead-in to the chorus is a thrilling acceleration, and the chorus itself is epic in its rending of garments and beating of chests, the two don’t quite mesh for me: what ought to be a climax keeps coming across as a shift down the gears. In scale and shamelessness, “I Would Do Anything For Love” can’t be faulted, but the execution is just that little bit rusty.

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Comments

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  1. 26
    Lazarus on 29 Jun 2012 #

    In case anyone didn’t know, the line – “I’ll do anything for love – but I won’t do that!” was first heard on Bonnie Tyler’s Steinman -penned song “Getting So Excited” on the album “Faster than the Speed of Night.” Back in 1983 the young Laz was wondering what “that” could refer to – by 1993 he was able to have a guess or two. The song? 7 seems about right, I don’t like it as much now as I did then. “Bat 2″ was one of the first 5 or 6 albums I bought on CD – I was something of a late adopter – but I haven’t played it in at least 10 years, which I guess tells its own story.

  2. 27
    speedwell54 on 30 Jun 2012 #

    For me Steinman returns to a proven formula. Motorbikes revving, the gentle intro that’s a bit like the outro, and the kind of messa di voce that litter his more epic numbers. This and others go; “here’s the headlines”, “here’s the story”,and finally, in case you weren’t listening, “the headlines again” It’s not that I don’t like it. Steinman is good at this, Meatloaf can deliver. The piano at the beginning of “I’d Do Anything…” always sounded to me like a much slowed down version of the beginning of “Baba O’Riley” the opener from “Who’s Next”. I think I may be dwelling on the over slowness of the former and the terrific pace of the latter. Please don’t check this out by changing speeds – I’m sure it bares no scrutiny. (“do it, do it now”) Hugh Laurie in “House” rocks along with this track from the Who, and it features in the series more than once.

    One thing that slightly irked me at the time, was that it didn’t get much stick for being too long. I may be misremembering. The single edit was a big reduction from the album, and I’m sure Radio One at least , edited it some more. Now 26 (thank’s wichita lineman) edits the beginning, the end, and possibly the middle, to shave nearly two minutes off the track. 6

    A few years later I noticed the year end best sellers (of which this was the worst best selling) around this time, were all a bit samey in theme. I’m sure “meanings of song lyrics” might say otherwise, but Houston, Adams, Wet Wet, Wet, and Unchained Melody twice, – to mix artists and tracks- talk a lot of “love” “doing it” or not, and over do the parentheses.

    Tom, your first paragraph outlines what I think when I hear the song; it immediately reminds me of the furore over what “that” was, and the rude or dirty connotations. This is a shame. I can hear now, Sarah Millican in her geordie voice saying “putting out the bins, is that what he means?”

    Though Meatloaf can act, his cameo in “Spiceworld -The Movie” where -from memory- he utters the line “but I won’t do that” in reference to something actually dirty, and not in the rude sense, makes most of us shake our heads and tut. It can’t have looked good, even in the script.

    Chart watchers note. This entered the top ten the same week as the previous number one “Relight My Fire” and the first 4 weeks positions were the opposite. RLF 1-1-2-8, Meatloaf 8-2-1-1 etc. Not that exciting, but in the previous decade only one other track copied Meatloaf’s climb, the aforementioned Adams, “(Everything I do), I do it for you”. Uniquely both twice using “do” in their titles. Coincidence or what? Yes – coincidence.

    Incidentally, the song title pictorially appears on the cover of Paul Copperwaite’s book, “Pop Charts- Comedy Graphs of Your Favourite Tunes” -worth a look on Amazon if you want.

    Finally, I just found this site after a favourite band – Saint Etienne- name checked you on their recent album. Much kudos to you all. Like.

  3. 28
    Mark G on 30 Jun 2012 #

    Did the last two buy the Saint Etienne album as well?

  4. 29
    Izzy on 30 Jun 2012 #

    I know very little about Meat, other than:
    Bat Out Of Hell was successful enough to be in my childhood Guinness Book Of Records for something or other;
    • he was hamming it up as some kind of uberTexan on a stars-do-opera (of all things!) variety show a couple of years back; and
    • this song.
    Oh, and he was in Fight Club.

    So I’ve always wondered: what the hell is this guy? Is he a rocker, is he an actor, or what? How did he get started?

    PS lovely start, Speedwell, and welcome!

  5. 30
    Lazarus on 30 Jun 2012 #

    Much more singer than actor I’d say, but I remember a recent interview in which he said he was concentrating on the acting nowadays. I know he was in the film of the Rocky Horror Show, but as to how he got started, or got that part, Wiki is your friend I guess.

  6. 31
    Mark G on 1 Jul 2012 #

    He was signed to Motown as a double act, “Stoney and Meatloaf”

    More than that, I don’t know. (OK, I do but it’s all out there)

  7. 32
    Erithian on 1 Jul 2012 #

    Very unfortunate for Lorraine Crosby, then, whose cameo is much the most convincing part fo the record. Meat himself doesn’t sound either convincing or convinced, and the lyrics are rather bathetic in many places. I try to resist saying “it’s not a patch on their earlier stuff” but in this case it really isn’t.

    And Speedwell, welcome along and I hope you’re the first of many brought here by Saint Etienne.

  8. 33
    heather on 2 Jul 2012 #

    I quite like it, despite being not really my genre. I think it’s the sincerity of the emoting. It only really works with the girl bit, which usually comes after the radio-playlist cutoff.

  9. 34
    Erithian on 5 Jul 2012 #

    Something perhaps not generally known about Meat’s early days – at the age of 16, he was at the hospital in Dallas where JFK was taken after being shot.

    According to a thread on democraticunderground.com, in an interview with Howard Stern “Meatloaf explained that … they all got out of school and went to see where Kennedy was driving through … they got to see Kennedy up close before he went on his final drive…

    “Meatloaf said they went to a bowling alley and when they got there they heard that the President had been shot. They hopped in their car and headed down to see what was going on. As they were on their way a guy claiming to be from the Secret Service stopped them and took their car to the hospital. They were told not to get out of the car so they just sat there and waited. They were actually there at the hospital before Kennedy’s car got there.

    “Meatloaf said he was at a party at someone’s house, whose name he will not mention, and he was told not to ever ask about who actually shot JFK. He said this guy told him that and it scared the hell out of him so he stopped asking about it.“ More fodder for the conspiracy theorists!

  10. 35
    Rory on 5 Jul 2012 #

    Bat Out of Hell was one of those landmark records when I was a teenager in early ’80s Oz – wherever you turned, there it was, like Cold Chisel or The Eagles’ Greatest Hits. Meat Loaf was also well-known for his Rocky Horror appearance; the movie was already a cultural touchstone, having been shown pretty much continuously at drive-ins since its release. In later years, when the drive-ins had all closed, it was an independent cinema late-night staple, with fans dressing up for their ritual viewings.

    He didn’t bother the Australian charts much during his Steinman-free years, but when IDAFLBIWDT rolled around it was rewarded by his latent Aussie fanbase with eight weeks at number one – unusually coming before its UK run, rather than after – and ended up as the highest selling single in the country that year.

    I didn’t buy it myself, though. I never owned Bat Out of Hell, either, and to this day still haven’t seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But Mr Loaf, as some newspapers so delightfully call him, has always been an inoffensive presence in my own musical hinterland (I think I said as much in the thread for the Meat Loaf number one that got away), and that pretty much sums up my feelings about this song too: an inoffensive 5.

  11. 36
    enitharmon on 6 Jul 2012 #

    I was about to comment on this one when Tom first posted it, not least because as Popular entries become more and more to me like figures from an alien landscape I know nothing of, this one was not only known to me but reached out to me as something from an age I felt part of.

    But then my crumbling body intervened once again . My right shoulder, whose grumblings over the last year have been kept in check by a routine of physiotherapy, suddenly flared up with tendinitis. Note that this is my right shoulder, the one that governs my bowling and teapot-wielding arm as well as the computer-manipulating one. Attempts to type or use a mouse were likely to produce a cry of agony that would drown out Meat Loaf in his pomp. So, my apologies for the delay. I have narrowly avoided the big steroid injection and a combination of Diclifenac and Tramadol are making life somewhat more manageable.

    Bat 2 was a rum old thing all right. An ill-starred album that took 15 years to come to final fruition, by which time it looked like a monstrous relic from a bygone age and as compelling as the exhibits in a museum of palaeontology. Nothing, it seems, exceeds like excess, and the lead-off track in its full 12-minute version seems to satisfy in the way the single version, cut by nearly half for short attention spans (but not nearly enough for those short attention spans), doesn’t. Hearing the single makes me feel cheated.

    Can Meat Loaf sing? Sure he can; not only has he one of the few genuine singing voices in a genre understandably wary of the trained voice (Freddie Mercury pulled it off with even more panache), he’s the Heldentenor of rock and I can imagine him doing Siegfried though not, perhaps, Tristan. When Bonnie Tyler or the ‘girls’ from Pandora’s Box sing Steinman one feels they are giving it every throat-shredding thing they have got (and these are long songs, so it must be like running an ultra-marathon), but with Meat Loaf there’s always the sense of something still in reserve. Does it always work though? For those songs on Bat 2 that first appeared on Steinman’s own album Bad For Good it plainly does; Steinman’s own voice is too thin and reedy to carry those big songs. I’m less sure about the songs that came via Pandora; Meat Loaf makes them seem to easy. For the songs that were original to the album though, it works just fine.

    By way of a footnote: confinement to an armchair-plus-footstool for extended periods furnished an opportunity for a little gentle Marcello-baiting. Four ELP albums back to back; King Crimson, Genesis, Tull, Soft Machine, Caravan, all the things I used to love before it was deemed reprehensible to love them. It was delicious. I got to wondering just why punk had to happen.

  12. 37
    Cumbrian on 6 Jul 2012 #

    Wasn’t it all a grand scheme to get Johnny Rotten on Question Time?

  13. 38
    lonepilgrim on 10 Sep 2012 #

    hungry for more meatloaf? then go here:
    http://oneweekoneband.tumblr.com/post/31279109186/coming-soon-that

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