Jun 12

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

Popular45 comments • 7,838 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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  1. 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)

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 37
    Cumbrian on 6 Jul 2012 #

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

  8. 38
    lonepilgrim on 10 Sep 2012 #

    hungry for more meatloaf? then go here:

  9. 39
    mapman132 on 26 Sep 2014 #

    From a chart standpoint, an example of a perfectly timed and executed comeback which resulted in an unexpected worldwide smash. In America, Meat Loaf had never had a Top 10 single or even a Top 10 album despite the millions of copies Bat Out of Hell had sold over the years. BOOH had gradually grown into required listening among my generation if my college was anything to go by, with “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” and “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” familiar sounds in my dorm hallways. So things had kind of reached a critical mass when the release of BOOH2 was announced in 1993. Number one on the album chart was not unexpected but number one on the Hot 100 was certainly not something I would have bet on. Sales of course drove the single, but it got decent airplay too, surprisingly considering its 7-14 minute length depending on which edit was being used. Initially bemused by its success, I eventually succumbed to its charms like everyone else I knew. Not the best single of 1993, or even Meat Loaf’s best single ever, but good enough for 8/10 from me.

  10. 40
    sally on 7 Dec 2014 #

    He’s singing about anal sex. Let’s be honest, no-one should have to do THAT for love. It’s just wrong.

  11. 41
    Adam on 31 Mar 2015 #

    From Wiki:

    Y. Bhekhirst (apparently born in 1952) is an outsider musician based in New Hyde Park, New York. Although not much is known about him, his sole known record, Hot in the Airport, released in 1986 and re-released in 1994 on New Hyde Park-based label HDG Records, is prized by some outsider music collectors for its decidedly dadaistic, shambling songs.

    Information on Y. Bhekhirst is scarce, to say the least. Irwin Chusid, who brought Bhekhirst’s music to the public’s attention in the mid-90s, reported that a man calling himself Y. Bhekhirst was distributing his cassettes in New York record stores; handing them over to the clerks and then walking out abruptly without further explanation.

    One song on Hot in the Airport, “I Will Sing,” features the repeated line, “And I will do anything for love.” The melody of this line is nearly identical to that of the title line of Meat Loaf’s 1993 hit “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

    (42 seconds in… you decide) https://youtu.be/oxEjasqh2w8?t=42s

  12. 42
    hectorthebat on 9 Apr 2015 #

    Critic watch:

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1002
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Theater van het Sentiment, Radio 2 (NL) – Top 40 Songs by Year 1969-2000 (2013) 13
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  13. 43
    benson_79 on 24 Dec 2020 #

    Poor Lorraine Crosby given very short shrift here. I remember watching a making of doc for the video where the director was talking to Meat before filming one of the climactic scenes and said “well, let’s see whether she can act”. That this was in fact Michael Bay, as I found out just now, came as no major surprise.

  14. 44
    Gareth Parker on 31 May 2021 #

    Sorry, it looks like I’m going to be the only one to give this record a well deserved kicking. The 5 minute (or so) ‘single edit’ is painful to listen to in my opinion, god knows what the 12 minute (!!!!) LP version is like! I like Deadringer for Love and Bat Out of Hell etc., but this is a dead cert 1/10 for me.

  15. 45
    Kinitawowi on 22 Jan 2022 #

    And that is, as they say, that. RIP Marvin Lee Aday, aged 74.

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