Paradise by the Dashboard Light

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"Paradise by the Dashboard Light"
Single by Meat Loaf
from the album Bat out of Hell
B-side Bat Overture
Released 1977
Format 7" / 12"
Recorded 1976
Genre Hard rock, glam rock, progressive rock, rock and roll
Length 8:28 (album)
7:55 (single)
5:32 (single edit)
Label Epic
Writer(s) Jim Steinman
Producer(s) Todd Rundgren
Meat Loaf singles chronology
"Two out of Three Ain't Bad"
(1977)
"Paradise by the Dashboard Light"
(1977)
"Bat out of Hell"
(1979)

"Paradise by the Dashboard Light" is a song written by Jim Steinman. It was first released in 1977 on the album Bat Out of Hell, with vocals by the American musician Meat Loaf alongside Ellen Foley. The is most notable for its unique structure and length, and has become a staple of classic rock radio.[1][2]

Background and recording[edit]

"Paradise by the Dashboard Light" is one of the longest songs to be released uncut on one side of a 45 RPM record. The only difference is the song fades out almost immediately after the final line is sung. In some countries a shorter 5:32 edit was released. The largest change is the complete removal of the "baseball play-by-play" section.[3]

According to Meat Loaf on VH1 Storytellers, the original length of the track was to be 27 minutes.[citation needed]

Song structure[edit]

The song is divided into three parts:

Part I. Paradise

The song opens with the characters reminiscing about days as a young high school couple on a date. They are parking by a lake and having fun, experiencing "paradise by the dashboard light", and the boy insists they're "gonna go all the way tonight."

Baseball broadcast

His pushing the matter is mirrored by New York Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto broadcasting a portion of a baseball game that serves as a metaphor for his attempts to achieve his goal, accompanied by funk instrumentation.

Rizzuto's baseball play-by-play call was recorded in 1976 at The Hit Factory in New York City by producer Todd Rundgren, Meat Loaf and Steinman. Rizzuto publicly maintained he was unaware that his contribution would be equated with sex in the finished song, but Meat Loaf asserts that Rizzuto only feigned ignorance to stifle some criticism from a priest and was fully aware of the context of what he was recording.[4]

In a nod to the Yankees – Red Sox rivalry, some radio stations in Boston created a version where Rizzuto's part was substituted with Red Sox announcer Dick Stockton describing the baseball play.[citation needed]

Part II. Let Me Sleep on It

Just as the boy is about to "steal home base", the girl bursts out, telling him to "Stop right there!" She refuses to go any further unless the boy first promises to love her forever and marry her. Reluctant to make such a long-term commitment, the boy repeatedly asks her to continue on for the time being and promises to give his answer in the morning. However, as she is not giving in that easily, so that he finally cracks and gives his promise: "I started swearing to my God and on my mother's grave/That I would love you to the end of time".

Part III. Praying for the End of Time

Back in the present, the characters can no longer stand each other's presence. However, the male character cannot possibly break his vow and hence is now praying for the end of time to relieve him from his obligation. The song fades out on the situation, juxtaposing his gloomy "It was long ago, it was far away, it was so much better than it is today!" with her joyous "It never felt so good, it never felt so right, we're glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife."

Music video[edit]

Although Ellen Foley is recorded on the album, another woman, Karla DeVito, was used for the music video and for live performances.[5] This would also happen for Meat Loaf's 1993 hit "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)", where Dana Patrick mimed to Lorraine Crosby's vocals.[6]

In the original video as released to TV and in 35mm prints, the male/female "Hot Summer Night" prologue from "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" was spoken live by Jim Steinman and Karla DeVito before the song performance. On the Hits Out of Hell music video compilation, the prologue was removed and spliced in front of the video for "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth," ostensibly to properly replicate the Bat Out of Hell album, and the video for "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" goes right into the performance. The 35mm version of "Paradise" is used by some theaters as a short subject presentation that is shown before The Rocky Horror Picture Show during midnight screenings.

Additionally, an altered version of the song was used in a 2008 AT&T commercial for the Go-Phone, in which a father and mother (Meat Loaf and singer Tiffany) argue over buying their son a phone.

Reception[edit]

The single had modest success in the United States, peaking at number 39 in the Billboard Hot 100. However, the song is very well known and is a classic rock staple. In the United Kingdom, it did not chart at all. However, in the Netherlands, the single became Meat Loaf's biggest all-time hit, reaching number one at the end of 1978. "Paradise" became a hit again in 1988. In various all time charts, such as the Radio 2 Top 2000 or Radio Veronica's All Time Top 1000, it consistently charts inside the top ten.

This song is featured as downloadable content for Rock Band 3.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1977) Peak
position
Dutch Top 40 1 (3wk)
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 31

Cover version[edit]

In 2011, four New York City Underground bands—Elastic No-No Band, Huggabroomstik, Schwervon!, and The Leader—collaborated on an Exquisite corpse-style cover of the song, with each band covering a specific section of the song. The cover was released as a 7-inch single on red or pink vinyl.

The song was featured in the twenty-first episode of the third season of the American musical television series Glee. The studio and show version was cut down to 3:50, with the removal of the baseball broadcast and some musical breaks between lines, and it was performed to joyous and raucous applause. It was met with critical acclaim from audiences and critics and went on to become a commercial success.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rolling Stone
  2. ^ New York Times
  3. ^ "Meat Loaf – Paradise by the Dashboard Light". discogs.com. Retrieved October 22, 2012. 
  4. ^ Pearlman, Jeff (August 29, 2007). "Phil and Meat Loaf will always have "Paradise"". ESPN. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  5. ^ "Karla DeVito's biography". Karl Devito. Retrieved 2006-09-24. 
  6. ^ "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)". songfacts.com. Retrieved 2006-08-29. 

Further reading[edit]

  • James F. Harris (1993). Philosophy at 3313 Rpm: Themes of Classic Rock Music. Open Court Publishing. pp. 116–118. ISBN 0-8126-9241-1. 

External links[edit]