Nightline Playlist: Meat Loaf

Meat Loaf will be the first to admit that he wasn't blessed with a natural talent for singing.

His first musical memory was his mother's reaction to him singing along to a song on the radio. "Oh no, it's a good thing you're not going to be a singer! You couldn't carry a tune in a bucket there!" she told him.

He admits that his rendering of the song was "unrecognizable," but that didn't stop Meat Loaf from recording some of the best-selling albums of all time.

Meat Loaf was born Marvin Lee Aday in 1947 in Dallas. He adopted his famous name because his father called him "Meat" and his high school football coach nicknamed him "Loaf." So he combined the two, even though he says he prefers pork.


Unlike other singers, music was not a big influence for him growing up. It wasn't until his high school girlfriend encouraged him to listen to Bob Dylan that he really got into music.

"The first Bob Dylan album, my mother walked into the room and said, 'well, he can't sing a note, why would they let him make an album?'" Meat Loaf said. "She eventually figured out that Dylan wasn't about his voice, but about his lyrics. So I thought that was pretty hip of her."

'Bat Out of Hell'

Meat Loaf's mother died in 1966. Estranged from his alcoholic father, he moved to Los Angeles the next year where "music became part of the life."

Influenced by the sounds and the people he met around L.A. he formed a band alternately called Meat Loaf Soul and Popcorn Blizzard. The band opened for groups like the Who, the Stooges and the Grateful Dead.

Meat Loaf also dabbled in acting, appearing in several musicals — most notably the rock musical "Hair." Meat Loaf continued to act in musicals and in 1973, he won a part in Jim Steinman's musical "More Than You Deserve."

Steinman and Meat Loaf teamed up in 1977 to record "Bat Out of Hell," which became one of the best-selling albums worldwide and in 2003 was ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 500 greatest albums of all times. Meat Loaf still enjoys performing the songs from his first hit album.

"I love 'Bat,' I love doing 'Bat.' It's such a workout," he said, adding that his rendition of the finale isn't perfect. "The song ends on three high C's — I don't hit them all."

Bumps in the Road

After the smashing success of "Bat Out of Hell," Meat Loaf hit some bumps in the road. During a concert in Toronto in 1978, Meat Loaf fell off the stage and broke his leg.

"I don't know anybody else who comes with that intensity to take a rock 'n' roll stage. I take it like I'm playing a game and I'm going to win," said Meat Loaf.

Meat Loaf continued to record albums, but in the 1980s he hit a series of setbacks, losing his voice and ability to sing for unknown reasons and filing for bankruptcy after a botched album and a recording hiatus.

He got back on track in 1993 and recorded a sequel to his 1977 hit album with Steinman entitled "Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell." He won a Grammy for the album's hit song "I Would Do Anything for Love (but I Won't Do That)."

This week, Meat Loaf premiered a documentary called "Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise" directed by Bruce David Klein. The documentary follows Meat Loaf on tour in early 2007, an exhausting 18-month long grind to promote "Bat Out of Hell III" — his third album released in 2006.

So what's on Meat Loaf's iPod? Well, apparently, not much — as he's not a big fan of the product.

"Forget my iPod. You know I hate cell phones and iPods," he said. He conceded, however, that Bon Jovi and Eagles are among his favorites.

The Eagles' 'Hotel California' and 'Life in the Fast Lane'

Many of Meat Loaf's favorite songs relate to show business in one form or another. Having a particularly tumultuous go at it himself, he enjoys songs that portray both the ups and downs of the biz.

"If you listen to the lyrics of 'Hotel California' -- 'you're welcome anytime you want, but you can never leave' -- that's the introduction to show business. This bright, glamorous — just come on in!" Meat Loaf said.

Meat Loaf likes to listen to the Eagles' "Life in the Fast Lane" before he goes on stage because it "really pumps you up and makes you realize where you're going."

The song's references to the fast-paced lifestyle and greed that can accompany fame make the song "self-explanatory. It's show business!"

Queen's 'Fat Bottom Girls'

Queen's "Fat Bottom Girls" song reminds Meat Loaf of the less glamorous aspects of being on tour -- like picking up women.

The song is "life on the road in show business. If I can bring in Gene Simmons as evidence for that or Tommy Lee from the Motley Crew..." Meat Loaf said. "It even goes over to the sports field with someone like Walt Chamberlain because he has been laid more than any man in history. He has the Guinness World Book of Records for being laid."

Bon Jovi's 'Living on a Prayer'

Meat Loaf admits that he is jealous of Bon Jovi because "Living on a Prayer" is so universally loved recalling that even at a Las Vegas VIP celebrity club "the place lit up" when "Living on a Prayer" came on.

"And they had to have 3,000 people in this club and ... the place was insane. Wow, good piece of writing. It's life or that's show business life. You're living on a prayer."

Meat Loaf doesn't have any favorite new artists and believes the quality of music has deteriorated over the years.

"I'm not seeing Frank Sinatras, I'm not seeing Elvises, I'm not seeing Beatles, I'm not seeing Stones," he said, lamenting that the music industry isn't encouraging quality music.

"They're building Quarter Pounders with Cheese that you get from the drive-through window and you eat with your plastic paper, drink with the Coke in the plastic cup and you're done and it's in the trash on your exit from McDonald's. That's the music business. It comes wrapped in a paper thing and a paper cup and it's disposable. There's no fine china."