Remembering Meat Loaf (1947—2022) and his greatest album

Cover of Meat Loaf album "Bat Out Of Hell" with a motorcyle and rider erupting from a grave against a blood-red sky

The thing about Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell (as with many things that Jim Steinman helped create) is that it is so vastly over the top that it seems like we are supposed to enjoy it as a novelty, a goof, a Springsteen parody for Halloween — and yet every single note, every lick, every yelp is presented with such earnest passion, with such desperation, with such musical force that you cannot help but be moved.

This is sweaty, silly, and yet genuinely moving opera. This is tumescent Grand Guignol in the parking lot of the Homecoming dance. This is every cheesy date night horror movie, every misshapen romance, every facemelting rock and roll dream. Through it all is that voice, that impossibly beautiful voice, that lusty, heroic, angelic voice.

I have listened to this album at least a few times a month every month for FORTY-FIVE YEARS now and each time it makes me smile. Every time it makes me feel as clammy and powerful and ridiculous as the first time I heard it. I adore every moment of it.

Godspeed to you, Mr. Loaf. Hell is going to be rocking and rolling tonight.

— J.F. "Jeff" McCullers