Music, My Brother, Meat Loaf and Peace

My brother Dave. Now there’s a complicated relationship if ever there was one. I would die for him. And I now suspect that he might even do the same for me. As kids, we were warriors against each other, though. Massive hate-ons for each other. Like, whoop! It was bad. But Lord help anyone who tried to step on his toes. Siblings are so complicated, aren’t they?

In the 70s and 80s there was NOTHING that separated the two of us–Dave & I–more than our musical choices. WOW! We shredded each other for our choices.

I was full on DISCO to PUNK to NEW WAVE to GOTH. Dave was the original orator of the DISCO SUCKS era. Yes, to him…even the disco duck sucked. I know, right!? Blasphemy. He was all hard rock and classic rock and metal and nonsense.

We did NOT understand each other. No way, no how.

Every once in a while, however, there were things we just magically agreed on. Some music defied genre groupings. There’s all sorts of music that is very IF YOU LIKE THIS, YOU CANNOT LIKE THIS. But there were also a few universal bands/performers…no matter what you liked, you were still ‘allowed’ to also like THIS.

David Bowie


The Beatles

Meat Loaf

I will never forget when Bat Out of Hell came into our house. December, 1977. It was a tumultuous time for me…and there are ways in which the arrival of that album saved me.

Is it crazy that I still to this day remember the smell of that record as we tore the plastic wrapping away? I do. Vividly. Just as I remember the anticipation of listening to it…

It was such a rare time for Dave and I…we totally put our musical differences aside and absolutely and completely and unconditionally devoured that album! With expressions of shock and awe, we listened to these songs in these magical stylings we had not yet come across in our deeply extensive musical careers. I say that knowing full well that we were 12 and 11 years-old respectively. We had just over a decade of musical experience and much of that decade was very nursery rhyme heavy.

But listen…we both worked in a record store for almost two years. We were too young to be on the payroll, so we took home vinyl every day as payment for our child labour. It was fucking glorious. We had come to know MUSIC.

BAT OUT OF HELL was rock and opera and show tunes and musicals and theatre and fierceness. We were both flabbergasted. We knew, as soon as the needle dropped on the first song, that we were listening to something fresh and new and game-changing. MEAT LOAF. This man could SING. And his collaborators? This album had genius all over it and both of us knew it. Dave and I both loved it…so it had to be magical. Not since HEART dropped DREAMBOAT ANNIE in 1975 were either of us so gobsmacked.

This was an album I could put on the turntable without getting punched, or have it thrown off and shattered. Dave allowed it…and even played it himself. Unlike LIPPS INC‘s Funkytown. Now there was a song that showed just how huge our divide was! To this day, I don’t understand how he could hate a song with such a virulent passion. I mean, try to stand still when Funkytown comes on! It slaps. And btw, how could someone who enjoyed Captain & Tennille‘s Love Will Keep Us Together so much, not like disco? Ugh.

Meat Loaf passed away last night. And with him goes a little bit of magic from the world. I wonder if he knew how many musical bridges his album built? I mean, I know he knew it was popular and loved and phenomenally successful. It broke serious records. But did he know that two bratty little siblings in Ontario, Canada, who always looked for reasons to fight each other, became silent and called a truce long enough to listen to Bat out of Hell–You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth–Heaven Can Wait–All Revved Up With No Place to Go–Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad–Paradise By the Dashboard Light–For Crying Out Loud in peaceful solidarity with one another? Did he know that?! I mean, that’s like…OVER 45 minutes of peace. He gave that to our mother. Granted, it would have been a loud peace. No shouting, screaming, kicking, or punching…but the volume would most definitely have been loud.

Thank you for the music, Meat Loaf. Thank you for allowing my big brother and I some quality fight-free time together. We were in awe of that album. You gave us so much.

ETA: Meat Loaf was a huge part of the problem we have during this pandemic. An antivaxxer and an antimasker and, if my Googlefu is correct, an actual fucking Trumper. Our childhood heroes sometimes rot and fall from the tree. Meat Loaf gave my brother and I some amazing time together enjoying an amazing album. Also, I’m a lifer Rocky Horror Picture Show fan. I’ve seen the movie more times than I can count. I pretty much know it verbatim. But this guy died for nothing. And his kind are making this pandemic unbearable. So, there’s also that.

By Kevin Craig

Author, Poet, Playwright. Author of The Camino Club, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and Book of Dreams, all from Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press. Other books: Pride Must Be A Place, Half Dead & Fully Broken, Burn Baby Burn Baby, The Reasons, Sebastian's Poet, and Summer on Fire.

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