I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)
|"I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"|
US commercial cassette single
|Single by Meat Loaf|
|from the album Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell|
|Released||September 15, 1993|
|Recorded||Ocean Way Recording (LA)|
|Meat Loaf singles chronology|
"I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" is a song written by Jim Steinman, and recorded by Meat Loaf with Lorraine Crosby. The song was released in 1993 as the first single from the album Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell. The last six verses feature a female singer who was credited only as "Mrs. Loud" in the album notes. She was later identified[when?] as Lorraine Crosby. However, she does not appear in the video, in which her vocals are lip-synched by Dana Patrick. Meat Loaf promoted the single with US vocalist Patti Russo.
The song was a commercial success, reaching number one in 28 countries. The single was certified platinum in the United States and became Meat Loaf's first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and on the UK singles chart, and was the best-selling single of 1993 in the United Kingdom. The song earned Meat Loaf a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo.
Music and lyrics
The timings in this article refer to the original album version. There are many shorter single and radio edits.
The song opens with a guitar played to sound like a revving motorcycle. Roy Bittan's piano begins to play, along with the guitars. The vocals begin at the 1:50 point. The opening vocals are accompanied by piano and backing vocals. The song then becomes much louder as the band, predominantly piano, plays the main melody for twenty seconds. An instrumental section follows the first verse and chorus, lasting over 45 seconds, with piano playing the title melody, accompanied by guitar and wordless background vocals by Todd Rundgren, Rory Dodd and Kasim Sulton. The lead vocals recommence with another verse. The phrase "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" was changed to "Some days I just pray to the god of sex and drums and rock and roll" on the recording, although Meat Loaf occasionally sings the more familiar phrase in concert.
- Will you make me some magic with your own two hands?
- Can you build an emerald city with these grains of sand?
- Can you give me something I can take home?
- I can do that!
The song's tone changes for the final two sections, in which the woman predicts that the man would eventually do things to upset her and their relationship. Both times, he denies it.
The duet part was and still is performed regularly on stage by Meat Loaf with his current featured female vocalist Patti Russo. However, with the passing years and the consequent greater maturity of both singers, their interplay during the coda has gradually taken on ironic overtones, if not overtly comedic ones, which were totally absent from the original album version. For example, in the 2007 show 3 Bats Live, after Russo sings "After a while you'll forget everything, it was a brief interlude and a midsummer night's fling", Meat Loaf stops the band and asks her (half-sung, half-spoken): "Why do you say this to me? Why do you keep saying these things to me every single night?", and she replies innocently (again half-sung): "It's in the lyrics". More funny exchanges of the same kind occur during their other live duets, such as the famous Bat Out of Hell track "Paradise by the Dashboard Light".
Perceived ambiguity of "that"
Meat Loaf says that the question, "What is 'that'?" is one of the most popular questions he is asked.
Each verse mentions two things that the man would do for love, followed by one thing that he will not do. The title phrase repetition reasserts that he "won't do that". Each mention of "that" is a reference to the particular promise that he made earlier in the same verse. The four things he says he will never do are:
- "forget the way you feel right now"
- "forgive myself if we don't go all the way tonight"
- "do it better than I do it with you"
- "stop dreaming of you every night of my life"
At the song's conclusion, the woman predicts two things that he will do: "You'll see that it's time to move on", and "You'll be screwing around". To both of these, the male emphatically responds, "I won't do that!"
In his 1998 VH1 Storytellers special, Meat Loaf even explained it on stage using a blackboard and a pointing stick. In a 1993 promotional interview, Steinman states that the definition of "that" is fully revealed in the song in each of the several verses in which it is mentioned. This sense would have been more clear if the lyric had been "and I won't do that" instead of "but I won't do that." It is the use of "but" instead of "and" that leads to the ambiguity.
It sort of is a little puzzle and I guess it goes by - but they're all great things. 'I won't stop doing beautiful things and I won't do bad things.' It's very noble. I'm very proud of that song because it's very much like out of the world of Excalibur. To me, it's like Sir Lancelot or something - very noble and chivalrous. That's my favorite song on the record - it's very ambitious.
Meat Loaf believed that the lyrics were unambiguous, but Steinman predicted that they would cause confusion. An early episode of the VH1 program Pop-up Video made this claim at the end of the song's video: "Exactly what Meat Loaf won't do for love remains a mystery to this day." A reviewer writing for AllMusic commented that "The lyrics build suspense by portraying a romance-consumed lover who pledges to do anything in the name of love except 'that,' a mysterious thing that he will not specify." Frank O'day says the lyrics provide "an enlightening example of how listeners project their own thoughts, values, and concerns onto the meaning of the song with misconstrued lyrics."
Steinman's songs are usually long, and "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" is no exception. The song is a full 12 minutes, and Steinman was deeply upset when executives advised him that he had to cut it down to get radio play. Manager Allen Kovac warned that any song over five minutes would not be played on radio, saying that if Steinman and the group did not make the cuts then the stations would. Even after they made the cuts, Steinman sent his own version to the stations.
The single version was edited down to five minutes and 25 seconds, with the motorcycle introduction omitted. The video version was whittled down to seven minutes and 38 seconds, with part of the motorcycle intro remaining. In the video version and single version the lengthy instrumental break is completely omitted. In the video and single versions the refrain is abridged as well, Lorraine Crosby sings six verses in the complete song. In the video version the second and third verses are omitted. In the single version the second, third, and fifth verses are omitted.
Lorraine Crosby, a singer from England, was the guest singer, though AllMusic incorrectly attributes the female vocals to Ellen Foley. Crosby and her partner Stuart Emerson had moved to Los Angeles to work with Jim Steinman, who became their manager. He secured them a contract with Meat Loaf's recording label MCA. While visiting the company's recording studios on Sunset Boulevard, Crosby was asked to provide guide vocals for Meat Loaf, who was recording "I'd Do Anything for Love". Crosby recalls, "in I went and sang it twice and I never thought anything more of it until six months later when I got a phone call saying, 'Would you mind if we used your vocals?'" Cher, Melissa Etheridge and Bonnie Tyler had been considered for the role. However, as Crosby had recorded her part as guide vocals, she did not receive any royalties from the song.
Michael Bay directed the music video. He also directed the videos for "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer than They Are" and "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through", also from Bat Out of Hell II. Filming took place in Los Angeles County, California in July 1993; the opening chase was filmed at Chávez Ravine, with the interior mansion scenes filmed at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. The cinematographer was Daniel Pearl, particularly known for filming The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1973. Pearl says that this video "is one of my personal all-time favorite projects... I think the cinematography is pure, and it tells a story about the song."
The video is based on Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera. Bob Keane did Meat Loaf's make-up, which took up to two hours to apply. The make-up was designed to be simple and scary, yet "with the ability to make him sympathetic." It went over budget, and was filmed in 90 °F (32 °C) heat, across four days. According to one executive, it "probably had the budget of Four Weddings and a Funeral." It is the abridged seven-minute single version, rather than the twelve-minute (11:58) album version.
The actress in the video, Dana Patrick, is miming to Crosby's vocals, however, as she would to Patti Russo's in the 1995 song "I'd Lie for You (And That's the Truth)". According to the captions aired on Pop-Up Video, Patrick received several offers for record deals after the video aired, by executives who assumed she was actually singing in the video.
The story begins with the opening credits saying: "I have travelled across the universe through the years to find her. Sometimes going all the way is just a start." We then see "The Beast" character – a deformed man portrayed by Meat Loaf, on a motorbike being chased by police officers and a helicopter. As the chase continues into night, the Beast passes through into a graveyard and into what appears to be a very ornate mausoleum hiding from his pursuers. He mournfully examines his deformed hands and features; as the officers enter and examine the mausoleum he crashes through the wall with his motorbike and he accidentally knocks down a police officer (whose shotgun goes off) and causes one of the chandeliers on the ceiling to fall and kill the officer.
In desperation the Beast flees into the nearby woods where he comes across a beautiful woman bathing/cooling herself by a fountain. Oddly enough, the woman appears to be in sunny daylight, while the rest of the woods and castle clearly show that it is night-time, although this may be a symbolic representation of the woman being the light to the Beast's own mental torture or "darkness" or a romance cliché. The woman looks into a mirror and glimpses the Beast watching her. She turns and he flees leaving only an amulet hanging on a branch. The woman picks it up and pursues him.
As she approaches the castle, the Beast is watching her movements through the reflection of his drink. As she comes into the castle the Beast hurriedly removes himself. The woman sits in his chair and rests by the fire. The beast watches her from his hall of mirrors and contemplates approaching her but is ashamed of his appearance. She later is seen having a bath interspersed with the police officers finding the dead officer's body and preparing to raid the castle. She is later seen trying to sleep while being seduced by 3 vampy women while the Beast sits in a chair (a reference to Dracula and the Brides). The Beast leaves the room and, seeing his reflection, begins to smash up the mirrors. The woman, hearing the noise, comes out and follows him into a presumable living room. The Beast observes her from above and levitates the chaise she is sitting on.
The Beast, then hearing the officers are near moves away, pulls the chaise back down breaking a lamp. The two run away and the woman removes the Beast's hood so she can look at him clearly. She accepts him and caresses his face while they embrace. As they pull away, the Beast is returned to his human form, and the two disappear just before the police catch them. The woman and the transformed Beast finally ride off into the sunrise on his motorbike.
Use in media
All tracks written by Jim Steinman.
|UK CD single|
|1.||"I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"||7:52|
|2.||"Back into Hell"||2:45|
|3.||"Everything Louder than Everything Else" (live)||9:18|
|US 45 RPM/Cassette single|
|1.||"I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" (single edit)||5:09|
|2.||"I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" (edit)||6:36|
The song reached number one in the charts in 28 countries. In most countries, it was Meat Loaf's first and only number one solo single. It was number one in the US for five weeks and sold over 1.4 million copies there. In the UK, it topped the singles chart, and at seven minutes and 52 seconds, "I'd Do Anything for Love" becoming the longest song on top there since The Beatles' hit "Hey Jude". This was then broken when Oasis released their 1997 hit "All Around the World", clocking in at 9 minutes and 20 seconds.
In the UK, this was the biggest hit of 1993, selling 761,200 copies and staying at number one for seven weeks. As a result of its success, "Bat Out of Hell" was reissued in the UK, this time reaching the top ten (which it didn't achieve on its first release in 1979), meaning Meat Loaf achieved the rare feat of having two singles in the UK top ten at the same time.
In Germany, the song is the 7th best-selling pop hymn ever.
Critical reaction was mixed. AllMusic said that "Meat Loaf sells the borderline-campy lyrics with a full-throated vocal whose stirring sense of conviction brings out the heart hidden behind the clever phrases." Meat Loaf won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo for the song.
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Jimmy always said, "You know what? Nobody's gonna get it." And he was right.
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