Tag Archives: Duran Duran

Rock Vocalist “Meatloaf” and the Lesson of Fame vs. Talent

The greatest malady facing our culture today is the fact that we seem to value fame more than talent. It’s a phenomenon that has been exacerbated by the explosion of reality TV and the likes of Snookie, Kendra and Hank, American Idol cast-off William “She Bangs” Hung, and the laundry list of dysfunctional characters parading themselves across the screen on a nightly basis. It’s particularly sad when those flashes of stardom flame out, because there’s essentially no talent or substance to fall back on.

And that brings us to the story of Meatloaf. The animated rock/pop vocalist and performer burst onto the music scene in 1977 with the blockbuster album Bat Out of Hell, one of the best-selling albums of all time worldwide. The success of that album made the thought of any follow-up attempt daunting for the overnight music sensation. From the various accounts, it seems that he suffered from a temporary loss of his ability to sing brought on by psychological effects of that newfound stardom. The encore recording attempts were plagued by additional challenges including disagreements with his collaborative partner on B.O.O.H., drug use, and financial woes.

Then the music world changed. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, punk rock shook the music world. Video music brought on the likes of Duran Duran, The Cure, The Human League, Depeche Mode, and a plethora of fashion-focused, synthesizer-based pop stars. Only a few years after achieving blockbuster success, Meatloaf was perceived by record industry executives as being as outdated as the mood ring and the pet rock,  (pardon the 70’s references).

But when in doubt, he fell back on his talent. Meatloaf was one of the most dynamic live performers of the 70’s rock era with a powerful voice. He took his larger than life act on the road to small bars and clubs. Meatloaf gave the same exhaustive live performances that he once gave in sold out arenas, and word began to spread. The audiences and venues began to grow, until the late 80’s and 90’s when the recording industry once again took notice. 16 years after the release of B.O.O.H., Meatloaf released Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell which included “I’d Do Anything for Love,” a #1 hit in dozens of countries worldwide.

Venerate people committed to excellence and hard work, and society wins. Applaud shallow fame, and we get what we deserve.

Music & Memory: 2 year old recalls “The Rain Song”

When my son was between 18 and 24 months old, I occasionally played a VHS tape with several music videos from the early days of MTV. You never know how much children of that age retain and how they perceive what they are watching, but he generally seemed mesmerized by what he was watching. Maybe he was just astounded by the hairstyles – these videos dated back to the early 80’s – the New Wave era when bands like Duran Duran, Split Enz, Bow Wow Wow, The Tubes, and A Flock of Seagulls were leveraging the synergy of this new medium and emerging fashions to propel their careers.

About a year later (not sure the exact age, but prior to his 3rd birthday), I was driving with my son and a song came on the radio. It was a song by the band Simple Minds called “Don’t You Forget About Me.” The song was one of the few hits enjoyed by the band, but was fairly prominent in its time from the exposure on MTV and because it was one of the featured songs in the soundtrack of the movie The Breakfast Club, a series of movies by John Hughes that captured the high school experience wonderfully.

My son called out from his child restraint seat, “It’s the Rain Song.” I thought perhaps he was confused. There was a song by Led Zeppelin with the title “The Rain Song” back in the 70’s, but I couldn’t fathom how he would have known that. Then a passage of the song by Simple Minds began to play with the following lyrics:

Will you stand above me?
Look my way, never love me
Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling
Down, down, down

Will you recognise me?
Call my name or walk on by
Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling
Down, down, down, down

 

I was astounded! I couldn’t believe his recall at such an early age, especially when he hadn’t actually heard the song in probably 9 to 12 months, as I recall. It wasn’t as though this was a song that we sang to him over and over again before bedtime. It was one of dozens of songs on the tape that we watched periodically. Music as a memory tool is a phenomenon that we don’t capitalize on nearly enough. It’s one of the many great benefits of music education.

We’ve discussed the power of songs of Schoolhouse Rock previously in this forum, and it’s great to know that many educators and drama clubs are keeping those wonderful songs alive for new generations.