Meat Loaf

I was seven years old the first time I heard the album Bat Out of Hell, performed by the recently departed artist known as Meat Loaf.

I was sitting cross-legged on the floor in my babysitter’s living room. Lee Ann was around 16 years-old and when her parents were out, she was in charge of me and the stereo.

I thought she was the coolest person. She wore eye shadow, had pierced ears, secretly practiced smoking and could blow huge pink bubbles with gum.

I watched in silence as Lee Ann,  with careful precision, slipped the paper envelope from the album jacket. She slid the shiny black record out, careful to hold the vinyl only on the edges, balancing it between the flat palms of her hands as she centered it over the metal peg of the record player.

Gingerly, she placed the arm of the needle over to the second groove for the second song. It was her favourite.

I recall the quiet crackle of air before the song. The anticipation tickled along my spine, a thrill that would be repeated every time thereafter when I heard the opening lyrics:

“On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?”

Seven-year-old me was transfixed by the spoken words. I thought the song You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, (Hot Summer Night) was the best version of Little Red Riding Hood ever told.

Yet, I knew by Lee Ann’s expression, there was more mischief to this melodic melody than I understood.

I wasn’t fazed either way.

The album cover art for Bat Out Of Hell scared me, but captivated me too. Hell was a word I wasn’t even allowed to use at home.

Also, I didn’t know how to feel about an adult who went by the name of a food that I refused to eat. I had no idea who Jim Steinman was either.

But I would come to appreciate both artists as my musical education grew along with my desire to know the story behind the songs.

As a lover of music above all other art forms, that album has been the soundtrack to many important moments of my life.

Fifteen years after my initial introduction to Bat Out of Hell, I was a bridesmaid in a wedding. To kick off the reception party, the DJ divided the guests: men on one side, women on the opposite, to perform Paradise by the Dashboard Light with each group singing the respective male/female lyrics.

I got to the centre of the floor. Opposite of me, singing loudly with the confidence only alcohol can offer, was the usher I had been paired with throughout the event. We’d only just met formally that day, but we took the assignment very seriously.

It’s fair to say we made a scene of it. No regrets. We killed it.

I’m not going to lie, that usher and I enjoyed some paradise by the dashboard light of a Cutlass once or twice, too.

Remember parking?

Yeah, you do. Good times.

Now, I’m not saying Meat Loaf and Steinman are responsible for my marriage to that usher, turned Carpenter, but I can say their musical collaboration is an important part of the soundtrack of our union.

Good memories only.

WriteOut of Her Mind