Meat Loaf

 

Bob Lefsetz:

 

Dead is dead.

Two days ago, nobody was talking about Meat Loaf. Two days from now they won’t be either, unless it’s to say he was an anti-vaxxer.

“Bat Out of Hell” was successful for one reason and one reason only, Steve Popovich. Pop was a legendary promo man at CBS Records who left to form his own company, Cleveland International, distributed by his alma mater, and signed, released and promoted “Bat Out of Hell.” No one else believed in it.

Pop?

He’s dead. He had legendary heart problems. But if you knew Steve… He was different from everybody else because he was warm, genuine in a way most promo people never are. Anybody could relate to him, because he held nothing back, he was just himself, and he was a force of nature.

CBS, which was bought by Sony, stopped paying Pop royalties. He had to sue to get them, and he never got a hundred cents on the dollar, the big issue was unaccounted for sales. Millions were off the books.

But after the settlement, Sony continued to leave Cleveland International’s logo off the albums. Imagine if the Gap sold Kanye’s clothing and left his name off, imagine the uproar. Your name is everything, as Pop said, but he died before resolution.

And then there is Todd Rundgren. Would “Bat Out of Hell” have been successful if someone else was in charge? Possible, but doubtful. Especially in the days of yore, when producers were known by all aficionados and were responsible for so many unique sounds and successes. Todd gave up trying to collect royalties from Sony, he let the company buy him out.

And then there’s Jim Steinman, the genius who wrote all the music. Jim was educated and brilliant in a business that is uneducated and stupid. So he had an edgy reputation. Jim had a vision and refused to compromise. Talent is supposed to be a cog in the machine, Jim wasn’t. But now Jim is gone too.

And two days ago, the face of “Bat Out of Hell” passed too, Mr. Loaf, Marvin Lee Aday.

Meat had been kicking around forever, no one knew he was. Sure, he was on stage, but the stage reaches so few people, especially when you’re in a regional production, or revival.

But when “Bat Out of Hell” hit, the music publicity machine revved up, he was always in the news when the music news still meant something, when it was part of artist development, when labels and managers and PR people nurtured someone’s identity and career to keep them in the public eye, so they could continue to generate revenue.

Meat could never follow it up. He lost his voice. He needed Steinman.

All that buzz had faded, of his appearance in “Roadie,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

And then Meat and Jim reunited and released “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

Released on MCA, even the label didn’t expect it to be a smash. Al Teller had taken over from Irving Azoff and continued to market the previously signed stuff, but hits started to thin out. The Meat Loaf deal was made because Teller was at CBS during “Bat Out of Hell” and had a preexisting relationship, and relationships are everything in this business, never forget it.

But as a result of being bombastic and overblown in an era when it either had to be grunge or hip-hop, MTV exposure made I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” a monster, now literally EVERYBODY knew who Meat Loaf was, that was MTV’s power, a power that doesn’t exist anymore on any platform.

You see Meat had good will. And certain sounds never really die, the hit parade just stops featuring them.

But that was it. The last hurrah. After that Meat Loaf was in the rearview mirror.

As is everybody else in this story other than Todd Rundgren, who was belatedly inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Never a kiss-ass, never a game player, Todd didn’t fit the mold so the doors were closed, until the fans gathered online and he was ultimately inducted and refused to show. Because you don’t make peace with the enemy just because they throw you a bone. Legends stick to their guns, they go their own way. And Rundgren is not touchy-feel either.

So now Meat Loaf is gone.

At 74.

Let’s see, Louie Anderson died of cancer at 68. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him on Carson, he talked about being at the beach, the little kids saying they had to roll him back into the water or he would die. You got Louie on the first pass. He was always overweight, made fun of it himself first, all the gym rats, the physically fit police, said his weight would catch up with him, but they were wrong, it was the Big C.

Did obesity contribute to Anderson’s condition? Possibly. There is some research out there, but it’s far from definitive.

Did comorbidities contribute to Meat Loaf’s death? Absolutely!

Louie never stood up for bogus science, if anything he was a healer who brought us all together. He didn’t want to die, but it wasn’t his choice.

Meat Loaf was a noted anti-masker/vaxxer and I’m sure he didn’t want to die either, but he’s gone too. But he didn’t have to.

Oh, they haven’t definitively come out and said he didn’t get vaccinated. But the odds of dying if you’re triple-vaxxed today, what did they just say, 90% of these people never hit the hospital? And why wasn’t Meat Loaf in the hospital anyway?

Meat never impressed me as dumb. But if anything, he was street smart. He dropped out of college, he lived on the edge, he was susceptible to misinformation.

He’s not the only legendary aged musician who has gone unvaxxed. But in speaking to this no needle crowd I’ve yet to hear any of them reference science, a noted authority, they just spew talking points and then default to saying they’ve been doing their own research.

Louie cared about other people.

These anti-vaxxers don’t care about anybody but themselves.

Do you know anybody who has died of Covid, personally? I certainly do. And almost all of them died before the vaccine became available. And those thereafter, like Jerry Blair…refused to get the shot.

I don’t care what his reasoning was, Jerry is gone, a hundred percent, his loved ones will never get over it, and most people will just move on, forget about him, if they even knew him at all.

And it’s so bad. The misinformation. But even worse is a lot of the jackasses purveying these inanities are vaxxed themselves. Talk about income inequality… Yes, these people are rich but they’re also educated and smart, THEY don’t want to die, but it’s all right if YOU DO!

Now the truth is “Bat Out of Hell” never made it on the west coast. People out here had no idea who Phil Rizzuto was unless they were transplants. It was an east coast thing, an insider thing. But Steinman’s work, via Meat, resonated with people, proving once again the worst arbiters of talent and connection are the suits. It’s the artists who reach down deep inside and reveal their truth that resonates with others.

But that was a long time ago.

In the sixties and seventies, we looked to musicians for truth. They were our beacons. They could be trusted. Furthermore, their audience was united on the left side of the spectrum, there weren’t young Republicans in numbers until the nineties, at least rock fans, at least those who would admit it.

But those days are gone too.

So much is gone.

But so much has come down the pike. The internet, the smartphone, streaming television. No one wants to die today saying they’ve seen it all, in fact everybody’s eager to hang on to see more!

Turns out Meat Loaf was a bigger deal than we thought he was. The obituaries and tweets are positive and numerous. If only Meat could have been around to see them.

That’s another thing… Live long enough and they give you your victory lap, no matter how much they resented or hated you at the time. Hang on and they’ll have a tribute, give you an award, and you’re top of mind once again, and if you’ve got anything left to say people will hear it.

But this won’t happen for Meat Loaf, and it’s his own damn fault.

And there are those who say not to speak ill of the dead. Fox News has a headline about those making jokes about Meat’s anti-vax statements and death. But the truth is, Fox and the right makes fun of those on the left all day long. And if Mitch McConnell needs to, if the Republicans take the Senate he’ll get rid of the filibuster. There are two sets of rules.

But there are not two sets of rules in health and science. And science is not about opinion, but fact.

Last night on Tucker Carlson Rand Paul spoke of the negative heart effects of the vaccine, which are de minimis, but he failed to mention the negative heart effects of Covid. You may not die, but you may be hampered forever.

And Fauci is the enemy.

What exactly is the point here? It’s like the NFL, which had to be pushed into concussion protocols. The players in the NFL are fungible, even the stars. Careers are short and there’s an endless supply of players available from the free minor league known as the NCAA. So legends like Jim McMahon have highlight reels but their ECT means they can’t work and they live the life of zombies, if they don’t kill themselves.

We are sending the wrong messages here. One person dies overseas and it’s a tragedy. A person dies from Covid in the U.S. and so many don’t even shrug their shoulder.

It’d be one thing if we had no weapons, no defense, but we do, the vaccines work!

And if they didn’t, if they were that harmful, wouldn’t we be seeing the negative effects all day long, people growing a second head, dropping dead? That’s not happening. As for issues down the line…doesn’t matter if you’re already dead, and who wants to live in a society with so many missing.

Meat Loaf was ignorant. Look the word up in the dictionary. you’ll see “lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about a particular thing,” in this case Covid, BINGO!

When I break a bone I don’t go to YouTube, I don’t call my friends, however educated they might be, I GO TO THE HOSPITAL!

And that’s where the unvaccinated Covid cases go too. You can’t pick and choose science, either you believe in it or you don’t.

In an alienated society where we’re all on our own page, where we don’t even get the same Google results, never mind search the same terms, we’re hungry to belong. A common enemy brings us together. Ergo the anti-vaxxers. It takes a whole lot of energy and backbone to go against the troops, to hang it out alone.

And there have been scapegoats throughout history, but their stories are usually only revealed and amplified long past their time.

And now we have autocracies like Russia trying to rewrite history.

And we’ve got schools in America which are told certain books can’t be read and certain theories can’t be taught.

What we want is an educated populace that has the intellectual power to distinguish between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, that can experience anything and everything. Hell, those on the right discount the “New York Times” even though it sets the agenda for Fox, they quote it more than any other media outlet. Wouldn’t you like to know what the “Times” has to say? I certainly check out Fox.

As for trigger warnings… It’s just a book. What kind of environment did you grow up in where you never heard anything negative. Hell, you should be exposed to these works to learn how to cope, because believe me, you’re gonna come up against triggers in real life.

Not that anybody will publicize it, not that your friends will challenge you, but it’s this echo chamber that gets us into these problems. Everybody I know is triple-vaxxed, does that mean everybody in America is? OF COURSE NOT!

Believe me, if Meat Loaf had hung with Anthony Fauci for a day he’d have gotten vaxxed. You suppress the truth at your peril. And the cost may be high, you may die.

And I won’t bother to make a pun using one of Meat’s songs. I’ll just say…

What a waste.

 

~~~

 

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