They went together naturally, like chocolate and peanut butter. Just about seven months ago Jim Steinman died. Then yesterday, Meat Loaf. They were both born in 1947 and together they made one of the best selling albums of all time, Bat Out of Hell. I’m saddened by the loss of perhaps the only truly Wagnerian Rock performer. After I discovered Bat Out of Hell, raising some eyebrows among those who knew me as a kid, I was hooked. I bought all the Meat Loaf and Steinman collaborations. Not only was Meat Loaf’s voice big, it was also sincere. It was easy to believe the stories he was singing to us, no matter how fantasy-prone they might’ve been. Once I start listening to one of his albums I end up going through them all.
When we become aware of music helps to define it. I became aware of Bat Out of Hell during my Nashotah House years. Still fearful from my evangelical upbringing, I wondered what students might think when they came over. (Nashotah is a residential campus, and this was largely before the days when faculty were fearful of being alone with a student.) As strange as it may sound, for a best-selling album, I was unfamiliar with any of the songs before I bought it. I’ve never been much of a radio listener. I agonized quite a bit before finally buying the CD. I quickly came to see why it was so popular. More than anything, it was the sincerity of Meat Loaf’s voice.
That music saw me through some dark times. Attending mass in the mornings and listening to Meat Loaf at night proved an effective elixir. The longer I was at Nashotah the more I came to associate it with the titular geonym. Eventually Bat Out of Hell II came out. I was less slow about acquiring it. The third one appeared only after my teaching career ended. When things went south at Nashotah, I decided that I would perform some symbolic actions during my departure. There was nobody there to witness any of them—no person is indispensable to an institution and you’re soon forgotten. The last thing packed from our on-campus house was the stereo. I went back alone to get it and the few last-minute belongings from well over a decade in a place of torment. Just before leaving campus for the last time I cranked the stereo up and played “Bat Out of Hell” at full volume. An era has come to an end.