Today is February 1 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you stay true to yourself and your dreams?” American singer Meat Loaf (Michael Lee Aday) had a powerful wide-ranging voice and hosted energetic theatrical live shows. His Bat Out of Hell trilogy - Bat Out of Hell (1977), Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell (1993), and Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose (2006) have collectively sold more than 65 million albums worldwide making him one of the best all-time selling artists. The first album stayed on the charts for over nine years, still sells an estimated 200,000 copies annually, and is on the list of best-selling albums. His career would have been completely different if he had strayed from his dreams and the vision he had for his life. Meat Loaf had to navigate the chaos of others who wanted him to join their band.
Many of Meat Loaf’s best-known songs were written by the composer Jim Steinman. Lifelong collaborators, the two met in New York City when Meat Loaf auditioned for Steinman’s 1973 musical “More Than You Deserve.” Not long after, Meat Loaf was cast as John Belushi’s understudy in a “National Lampoon” road show, and he found Steinman a job as a piano player on the tour.
The chemistry between Steinman and Meat Loaf sparked work on the first Bat Out of Hell album in the early 1970s. In 1974, Meat Loaf left theater and decided to work exclusively on music and focused his energy on finishing Bat Out of Hell. With the album completed, Meat Loaf and Steinman spent time seeking a record deal but were rejected by each record company, because their songs did not fit any specific recognized music industry style. Finally, they performed the songs for Todd Rundgren, who decided to produce the album as well as play lead guitar on it. They then shopped the record around, but they still had no takers until Cleveland International Records decided to take a chance. In October 1977, Bat Out of Hell was finally released.
On January 24, 2022, Variety released a 2016 interview with Meat Loaf previously unpublished. Authored by Chris Willman, the article traces the origins of Meat Loaf’s career and describes what Meat Loaf had to navigate during the 1970s as he and Steinman started working together. As Meat Loaf said “We just got turned down by everybody. But I would not let Jimmy quit, and I wasn’t about to quit. At that time, I had offers to join REO Speedwagon. They talked to me about going out with (Ted) Nugent. Mick Jones talked to me about joining Foreigner. And I said ‘No, you don’t understand what I have and what Jimmy has with me.’ Because we’d been playing little clubs around New York and they would go completely insane. And record companies would come and they’d go, ‘Well, these are your friends (cheering).’ I was like, ‘No, I don’t have any friends, dude!’ It was kind of true. I’ve always been like this, and Jimmy the same way — we’ve both kind of been loners. I’d go out with girls, but I wouldn’t go hang out with guys in bars. It wasn’t my thing. I’d rather stay home and watch The Price Is Right than go out to some bar with a bunch of guys and drink beer. It’s’ just not my thing. So, we’ve always been loners, except that together we’re not.”
The theme of being an outsider to the music industry, despite his tremendous commercial success, has been a constant in Meat Loaf’s life. In the Variety interview Meat Loaf referred to his best-selling 1999 autobiography To Hell and Back and said, “I was gonna call my book when I wrote it ‘On the Outside Looking In,’ because that’s how I feel about how the music business has looked at us. It’s like they’re inside a store window, and Jimmy and I are standing on the street looking in like kids at Christmas time. We’ve always been on the outside looking in. It’s never been that way with films, but it’s always kind of been that way with music. And I think it has to go back to the fact that with Bat Out of Hell, the songs were long.”
On the dust jacket of To Hell and Back, the text reads “Parents said he was ‘too fat’ to play with their children, and his classmates picked on him, even ganging up to lock him in a storage box. Unflatteringly nicknamed ‘Meat Loaf’ by his alcoholic father, prone to getting concussions (seventeen in all), and drawn to musical theater, no one pegged this misfit kid to become a rock star. That is, until he recorded the third best-selling album of all time.”
Meat Loaf went through hell and back and navigated the chaos of life and his music career by remaining true to his self and his dreams. How often do you remain true to yourself and your dreams?
How comfortable are you being alone if it means staying true to yourself?
Have you ever let anyone derail you from pursuing your own dreams?
Have you ever tried to derail someone from pursuing their dreams?
When they started out no one believed their approach to music would work but Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman would not quit. If you have encountered resistance along the way of translating your dreams into reality, how did you respond?
Meat Loaf was told he was too fat, had an alcoholic father, and no one believed in him yet he became one of the best-selling artists of all time. How often do you reflect upon your ability to overcome adverse conditions to translate your dreams into reality?