Another great hero of mine passed yesterday. Marvin Lee Aday aka. Meatloaf died yesterday at the age of 74. I can’t begin to capture the impact that Bat out of Hell, the album and the song had on a young impressionable man. To this day, hearing the first three notes of this song is enough to lock me in for the near 10 minutes of that song.
It was one of the first occasions that I recognised that beauty, power and raw emotion could be delivered by grabbing you by the throat and ramming the music directly into your amygdala. It lead me to some strong leather jacket and jeans choices, and some questionable hair choices in the 80s. I could bore you to tears about the song, the album and why it is such a stunning piece of art, but there are many more competent writers and musicians in the world who are leading those tributes so I bow to their superior abilities.
Meatloaf and Inclusion
The reason Meatloaf is so important to me, and why I think it is so relevant today relates to what he represented and when. I wasn’t always this dynamic, interesting go-getter some of you may be familiar with. In fact, for very large portions of the eighties (that’s the 1980’s not the 1880’s contrary to some of your suspicions), I was a lock in, shy, introverted and fat. I had computers and that was my world. I was fortunate enough to encounter some very important people in my life, who remain so today, and with them came this music – so much music – of which Jim Steinman, Meatloaf and Bat out of Hell was an important element.
This was the first time I saw a fat guy (sorry but the man himself laughed about the fact that he wasn’t exactly svelte) standing there with sweat dripping from, well everywhere, exercising his talent to its fullest extent. It was a revelation to be honest; this was someone who did not fit the mold. He was fat, but not in a tuxedo singing opera, nor was he the comic foil to the hero of our story. No, he was standing proud saying “this is me, deal with it”.
We become what we beholdWilliam Blake
As I think back on that time today, I’m reminded of another clever chap, William Blake and his well worn quote “You become what you behold”. For me, it was seeing a big white guy out there being accepted for his talent, but the same message is true for everyone regardless of gender, race, color, creed, physical ability or sexual orientation – you can only imagine for yourself what you have seen.
We all know this, but now is a good time to reflect on this reality. People can only aspire to achieve things that seem possible. Could I become a singer? a sports star? a world leader? What about a superhero or an adventurer roaming distant galaxies? Some of these may have some challenges (I can’t sing) but somewhere, whether in reality, pictures, comics or movies, someone has presented a vision where I could imagine the possibility and I could dream.
Now imagine not ever seeing that. You are locked out of a future because you have either explicitly or implicitly been denied conceiving of a particular reality. Have you stolen someone’s dreams in this way – I’m sure I have in my time? Have you allowed this to happen, or could you have been a better ally? Is there a way that we can create better pictures for people to allow them to dream bigger dreams?
Anyway, for me, this is an influence that Mr. Loaf had on me. Subtle? Not so much, but not the first thing you think of with a rock singer.
Mr. Loaf and Choices
When you hit a certain level of maturity (quiet there in the peanut gallery) you tend to be a bit more impacted by death. Maybe its the greater sense of mortality, but the frequency starts to increase naturally, so you’re more aware.
The other point that I want to lightly touch on is in relation to health. As many of you know I’ve had my own particular brushes over the last year with heart and infection issues, bringing their own complications.
But, as I’ve always maintained, we have choices. Drawing a parallel between myself and a rock star has a very positive impact on my ego, so I’ll do it here again. When faced with the choice of sitting down and fading into the autumn of his years, or continuing to fight and perform, Meatloaf chose the latter.
I wasn’t touring, because I’m in software and we don’t do that, but early last year I made some life and health choices that have had a wide impact on my life, and this is the thought I wanted to leave you with. If you don’t change direction, you’re going to end up where you’re going. This is either positive or negative. Be it health, career, happiness, relationships, whatever you can be a passenger in your life or an active participant.
I’m not a health expert, so I’m not going to detail the things that I have done, but let me say this, you can make one change that has a dramatic impact on your entire life, but you have to choose it. If Meatloaf taught us anything its that we can make positive choices for our lives even in the toughest of circumstances.
To quote some other rather talented musicians, “Thank you for the Music” Mr. Loaf.