Song of the Day #4,980: ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’ – Meat Loaf

When singer/actor Meat Loaf died last month at age 74, reportedly from COVID-19 complications, I was intrigued by the references to his 1977 album Bat Out of Hell as one of the top-selling records of all time.

Indeed, the prog rock opera is the fourth best-selling album worldwide, behind only Michael Jackson’s Thriller, AC/DC’s Back in Black, and Whitney Houston’s soundtrack to The Bodyguard.

And here I am, purportedly a music fan, having never heard it.

I gave it a spin, not really knowing what to expect.

Composer Jim Steinman adapted the project from a couple of stage musicals he wrote in the early 70s. Todd Rundgren came on as producer and two E-Street Band members, Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg, joined the lineup of studio musicians. Meat Loaf had collaborated with Steinman on another musical in the early 70s and his booming vocals made him a natural fit for the material.

The result is a seven song set that runs just under 50 minutes, with a trio of 8-9 minute opuses dominating the tracklist. Musically, it feels a lot like Bruce Springsteen crossed with The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Given the album’s popularity, I expected some of these songs to ring a bell. That didn’t really happen. The one exception was today’s track, ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light,’ which I know by name and reputation. The song itself wasn’t very familiar until I got to the “let me sleep on it” part, which I knew quite well. Maybe that segment was played on radio as a standalone?

I’m glad I finally got around to listening to this classic album, even if it took Meat Loaf’s death for it to happen.

[Part 1: Paradise (0:00 – 3:30)]
[Verse 1: Meat Loaf]
Well, I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday
Parking by the lake and there was not another car in sight
And I never had a girl looking any better than you did
And all the kids at school, they were wishing they were me that night

[Pre-Chorus: Meat Loaf]
And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we’re glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
C’mon! Hold on tight!
Well c’mon! Hold on tight!

[Chorus: Meat Loaf & Ellen Foley]
Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light

[Post-Chorus: Ellen Foley]
Ain’t no doubt about it, we were doubly blessed
‘Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed
Ain’t no doubt about it, baby got to go and shout it
Ain’t no doubt about it, we were doubly blessed
‘Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed

[Verse 2: Meat Loaf]
Baby don’tcha hear my heart? You got it drowning out the radio
I’ve been waiting so long for you to come along and have some fun
And I gotta let you know, no, you never gonna regret it
So open up your eyes, I got a big surprise, it’ll feel all right
Well, I wanna make your motor run

[Pre-Chorus: Meat Loaf]
And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we’re glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
C’mon! Hold on tight!
Well c’mon! Hold on tight!

[Chorus: Meat Loaf & Ellen Foley]
Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light
Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
Paradise by the dashboard light

[Post-Chorus 2: Meat Loaf & Ellen Foley]
You got to do what you can
And let Mother Nature do the rest
Ain’t no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed
‘Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely-

[Bridge: Meat Loaf & Ellen Foley]
We’re gonna go all the way tonight
We’re gonna go all the way and tonight’s the night
We’re gonna go all the way tonight
We’re gonna go all the way and tonight’s the night
We’re gonna go all the way tonight
We’re gonna go all the way and tonight’s the night
We’re gonna go all the way tonight
We’re gonna go all the way and tonight’s the night

[Part 2: Radio Broadcast (3:30 – 4:26)]

[Instrumental Breakdown]

[Spoken Interlude: Phil Rizzuto]
OK, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker going here
Two down, nobody on, no score, bottom of the ninth
There’s the windup, and there it is, a line shot up the middle
Look at him go. This boy can really fly!
He’s rounding first and really turning it on now
He’s not letting up at all, he’s gonna try for Second
The ball is bobbled out in center, and here comes the throw
And what a throw! He’s gonna slide in head first
Here he comes, he’s out! No, wait, safe – safe at second base
This kid really makes things happen out there
Batter steps up to the plate, here’s the pitch-he’s going
And what a jump he’s got. He’s trying for third, here’s the throw
It’s in the dirt-safe at third! Holy cow, stolen base!
He’s taking a pretty big lead out there
Almost daring him to try and pick him off
The pitcher glances over, winds up, and it’s bunted
Bunted down the third base line, the suicide squeeze is on!
Here he comes, squeeze play, it’s gonna be close, here’s the throw, here’s the play at the plate
Holy cow, I think he’s gonna make it!

[Part 3: Let Me Sleep on It (4:27 – 6:56)]
[Verse 3: Ellen Foley]
Stop right there!
I gotta know right now!
Before we go any further!
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?
Do you love me!?
Will you love me forever!?
Do you need me!?
Will you never leave me!?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life!?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife!?
I gotta know right now
Before we go any further
Do you love me!?
Will you love me forever!?

[Verse 4: Meat Loaf]
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I’ll give you an answer in the morning
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I’ll give you an answer in the morning
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I’ll give you an answer in the morning

[Verse 5: Ellen Foley]
I gotta know right now
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?
I gotta know right now!
Before we go any further
Do you love me? (Let me sleep on it)
Will you love me forever?

[Breakdown: Ellen Foley]
What’s it gonna be boy?
Come on, I can wait all night
What’s it gonna be boy? Yes or no?
What’s it gonna be boy? Yes or no?

[Verse 6: Meat Loaf & (Ellen Foley)]
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Well, let me sleep on it
I’ll give you an answer in the morning
(I gotta know right now!)
Let me sleep on it
(Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?)
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
(Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?)
Well, let me sleep on it
(Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?)
I’ll give you an answer in the morning, morning, I’ll tell you in the morning
(Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?
I gotta know right now
Before we go any further
Do you love me!?
Will you love me forever!?)

[Call & Response: Meat Loaf & (Ellen Foley)]
Let me sleep on it
(Will you love me forever?)
Let me sleep on it
(Will you love me forever?)

[Part 4: Praying for the End of Time (6:57 – 8:28)]
[Verse 7: Meat Loaf]
I couldn’t take it any longer
Lord I was crazed
And when the feeling came upon me
Like a tidal wave
Started swearing to my god and on my mother’s grave
That I would love you to the end of time
I swore that I would love you to the end of time!

[Verse 8: Meat Loaf]
So now I’m praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
‘Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don’t think that I can really survive
I’ll never break my promise or forget my vow
But God only knows what I can do right now
I’m praying for the end of time
It’s all that I can do
Praying for the end of time
So I can end my time with you!

[Outro: Meat Loaf & (Ellen Foley)]
Well, it was long ago and it was far away
And it was so much better than it is today
Well, it was long ago and it was far away
(It never felt so good)
And it was so much better than it is today
(It never felt so right)
It was long ago and it was far away
(And we were glowing like)
And it was so much better than it is today
(The metal on the edge of a knife)
It was long ago and it was far away
(It never felt so good)
And it was so much better than it is today
(It never felt so right)
It was long ago and it was far away
(And we were glowing like)
And it was so much better than it is today
(The metal on the edge of a knife)
It was long ago and it was far away
(It never felt so good)
And it was so much better than it is today
(It never felt so right)
It was long ago and it was far away
(And we were glowing like)
And it was so much better than it is today
(The metal on the edge of a knife)

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,980: ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’ – Meat Loaf

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    My introduction to Meatloaf came, as I assume it did for many people now 55-75, through The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In addition to Meatloaf being in the movie, every midnight showing began with the video to today’s song (along with the J Geils Band’s “Love Stinks” for some reason). That same video, along with the one for “You Took the Words Out of My Mouth,” were among the earliest offerings from MTV.

    Both songs (and videos) are exhilarating, though I have never heard the rest of Bat Out of Hell. I suppose I too should remedy that at some point.

  2. Rob says:

    I was living in Hamilton, Canada when “BOOH” went super-nova in 1978 … I was 15 years old. The opening single “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” was ALL over the radio in the summer of ’78. Soon, almost every track was being played, especially “You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth” and “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”. As a baseball fan and a lad with teenage hormones coursing through my veins, the baseball analogy in “Paradise” hit home big time, though now in hindsight it is somewhat embarrassing. This album was HUGE in Hamilton. I think it was one of those LP’s that was big in industrial towns where the popular desire was to leave the city before you became a part of the mechanism. That’s the way I felt anyway.
    NOTE: Most of the band on this album (aside from the two E-Streeters) are members of Rundgren’s band Utopia. They have several records under their belt, some of them quite good.

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