Meat Loaf is Two Words.
Yes, Meat Loaf not meatloaf. (can’t you hear Will Ferrell screaming it to his mother in Wedding Crashers?).
Michael Lee Aday (formerly Marvin Lee Aday), a/k/a Meat Loaf is the most recent entertainer to pass away.
His passing will likely spurn stories about personal demons and personal opinions about face masks and vaccinations; what sad commentary if people forgot the man’s talent, abilities, passion, work ethic, and successes in singing and acting. Further, his well documented physical and mental struggles should not overshadow the creative brilliance and artistry, creativity, passion.
Let’s do the meat math:
1. Fierce, intense rock opera superstar, singer; sold 100 million records.
2. Actor, activist, passionate Texas-born American, 50+ acting gigs.
3. Guy who got in a huge screaming match with Gary Busey on The Apprentice.
Now don’t be sad, cause two out of three ain’t bad.
There was always something vulnerable about Meat Loaf — everyone could relate to him if they were honest about the awkward moments, bad choices, and challenging cycles that seem to accompany the lives of driven high achievers. His interviews on talk shows illustrated the contrasts of his persona — not unlike Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons and other demon rockers who, off stage and out of character, were actually pretty laid back guys. Meat Loaf would have impressed the likes of Puccini and Verdi.
Bringing a new kind of opera to a new place and time. Crafting memorable music and videos that pay homage to hints of Bram Stoker, and Beauty and the Beast.
To put things in perspective — his 1977 collaboration with Jim Steinman, the perennial Bat Out Of Hell album was just 7 songs and 47 minutes (but took four years to write and produce). How many creations in a person’s professional life take 47 minutes and have the lasting impact of such an album and career? How many of us have spent 47 minutes on a Zoom call — time that has negligible, or zero, impact or value? It would turn out that the 47 minutes of studio work put a fine point on a duo’s determination to create something unique.
I remember these anthems playing at school functions and the teachers jamming and swaying through the late ‘70’s and into the ‘80’s. The Meat Loaf albums were as much a part of the fabric and soundtrack of the lives of 12 and 16 year olds as they were of 42 or 56 year olds. They are in fact, timeless, and have the capacity to transport us back to an earlier, simpler time when music came out of a radio and videos came from a TV shaped like a cube.
His childhood was a struggle as were the years in the stretch between hit records in 1977 and 1993, but it was a life marked by continual little victories of self-belief over self-doubt. Amid the flame-throwing flying chopper motorcycles and haunted castles, no doubt the demon and dragon-driven rock opera brought backstage and off-stage demons and dragons to slay.
He seemed to have a Forrest Gump kind of life — his story about being a kid growing up in Dallas and hearing on November 22, 1963 that JFK was killed — and how he and his friends wound up at Parkland Hospital, is just one of many serendipitous moments.
Without a doubt, not everyone is a Meat Loaf fan, but his music — operatic and emotional — has indisputable, unblemished staying power and artistry, and we should all endeavor to have our life work marked with such durability.
In one of the last interviews I’d watched, he was adamant that the thing that drove him crazy was that people sometimes spelled his name, Meat Loaf as one word, not two. I also learned he also amassed one of the most impressive pop art painting and sports memorabilia collections.
Somewhere above, sins are forgiven, and there’s a concert hall with smoke-clouded lights from the rafters illuminating the gray stone arches, matted prom-tuxedo shirt ruffles, and the bordello-maroon velvet lapels, in a place where anyone can appreciate that talent and passion always triumphs over tribulations — where two out of three ain’t bad.
Guitars and drums, inspiration and perspiration, Steinman lyrics (Steinman passed in April 2021) paired with Steinway pianos, flashing lights illuminating fleeting moments.
Everyone has the capacity to achieve, create, become multidimensional, even in quirky ways. In thinking of his life among the colorful canvas of the artists and performers that we’ve lost, they’ve all had courage and perseverance.
For all the recently departed actors, actresses, performers, comedians, writers and producers, the best way to honor them is to simply celebrate their art and revel in the truth that fallible, imperfect humanity can produce otherworldly talent and creative output.
And, out of respect to a stellar artist and body of work, remember that Meat Loaf is two words.
Copyright, 2022, Paul Fioravanti, MBA, MPA, CTP. When he’s not fixing companies or advising clients, he’s up at the wee hours of the morning restlessly penning articles like this one. www.qorval.com