48. Meat Loaf & Ellen Foley – ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’ (1977)

“Ain’t no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed
‘Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely dressed”

Written by Jim Steinman

Produced by Todd Rundgren

Taken from the album Bat Out Of Hell

Also released on Hits Out Of Hell, The Very Best Of Meat Loaf, VH1 Storytellers, Bat Out Of Hell: Live With The Melbourne Symphony, 3 Bats Live and Piece Of The Action: The Best Of Meat Loaf

US #39

Movement one: teenage lust. In ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’, the definitive document of Meat Loaf’s epic rock style, he plays a seventeen-year-old in the backseat of a car, ready for anything as any teenage boy would be. With the catchy melodies and heavy influence from old-school rock and roll, you could consider ‘Paradise’ to be a companion piece or extension of the Eddie character played by Meat Loaf in The Rocky Horror Picture Show – both have that nostalgic quality about them, like someone transported here from twenty (now fifty) years in the past. After some joyous chants of “We’re gonna go all the way tonight!”, there is a genius section where a baseball broadcast tells us the story of their clumsy introduction to world of adulthood.

Movement two: teenage confusion. The girl in this situation (you didn’t think he was in that backseat by himself, did you?) wants Meat to tell her that he loves her. With a screech of “STOP RIGHT THERE!!”, it’s all on hold for a second while she starts being, frankly, annoying. You can feel the desperation in Meat Loaf’s voice as he pleads “Let me sleep on it”, but she isn’t putting out until he tells her he loves her. Alright, alright, and with a resurgence of the guitars, he pledges to stay with her until the end of time.

Movement three: praying for the end of time. Oh God, it’s all gone pear-shaped. Here they are, unhappily married, together until death do they part. All for that one night of paradise by the dashboard light. A cautionary/celebratory tale, this is a rock classic, an epic, a film in a pop song. It’s the best Jim Steinman song – and I thought nothing could beat ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me Now’ – and the best Meat Loaf song, although you could argue they are one and the same. Most of all, it’s fun to listen to, and isn’t that what good old fashioned rock and roll is all about?

Music video (featuring Karla DeVito miming to Ellen Foley’s vocals):

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