“Paradise by the Dashboard Light” by Meat Loaf (ft. Ellen Foley)

Meat Loaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” is a relatively lengthy piece, which it can be said features an entire full-length narrative, despite the lyrics being by and large most part competitive. And letting the cat out of the bag early, this is in fact, all things considered, a comedic song of sexual lust. But there is definitely a more serious advisory implied at the end.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Meat Loaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Light at Lyrics.org.

The title serves as a metaphor for sexual desire when utilized within the context the song is set.  The said setting would be the vocalist and addressee (i.e. the second vocalist) being teenaged romantic interests, in a car alone out in the middle of nowhere. Or put differently, they’re on a private date.

The female vocalist is very attractive – so much so that the male feels fortunate just to have her in this position. And what we mean by that is in a setting where the two of them can potentially make love. So basically, his main goal is to convince her to do it with him. And being young and hot herself, she is for the most part down for the cause.

About midway through, the narrative is colorfully relayed for a while as a baseball broadcast. In other words, terminology related to that sport is rather used to point to the male vocalist’s progress as far as bonking the female goes. And by the time that particular verse is said and done, it is revealed that Meat Loaf may in fact be on the verge of doing it with Ellen.

Ellen gives him the Green Light

So eventually, Ellen responds by agreeing – but only if Meatloaf is willing to ‘love her forever’. That is to say that she doesn’t want to be a victim of a hit and run. Furthermore, if she does decide to let the male vocalist have her, she will only do so if there is a lasting, even lifelong commitment involved. 

So for the sake of simplicity, we can say that she is demanding marriage before sex, not that they walk down the aisle beforehand but that he agrees to more or less do so afterwards.

The Long and Short of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”

To make a long story short yes, the male does agree. And resultantly the song concludes with him lamenting having done so, i.e. the female proving to be someone he doesn’t really want to be with like that. 

So reading in between the lines, the moral of the story is something like a moment of sexual pleasure can lead to a lifetime of regret afterwards. And conclusively the male vocalist, sorta buttressed by the female, is looking back on the days of their youth as being more ideal than the here and now due to the aforementioned decision.

Meat Loaf, "Paradise by the Dashboard" Lyrics

Did Meat Loaf write “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”?

This song was written by Jim Steinman (1947-2021). Jim is also acknowledged as the author of the entirety of “Bat Out of Hell”, the Meat Loaf album this track is derived from. And the song was released as part of that project – via Cleveland International Records, a subsidiary of Epic Records.

Recording and Release

The producer of this track is Todd Rundgren, who also held Meat Loaf (1947-2022) down throughout “Bat Out of Hell”. 

Most of the recording of this song took place in Bearsville Sound Studio, which was located in a part of New York also known as Bearsville.

The 21st of October 1977 is the official release date of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”. It acted as the third single from its album.

The “Bat Out of Hell” Album

To note, said album was the late Meat Loaf’s signature work. It prove to be one of the most commercially viable LPs in music industry history. That is to say the album went diamond+ (i.e. exceeding 10,000,000 sales) in the US, UK and Australia. In the latter case, it went quinvigintuple, as in 25 times platinum. Quinvigintuple is perhaps the most platinum in a singular country of any musical undertaking we have come across thus far.

Phil Rizzuto

Phil Rizzuto (1917-2007), a Hall of Fame baseball player who later became the established media voice of the New York Yankees (i.e. the team he played for in the 1950s and 60s) appears on this song. He actually served the role of the baseball announcer in this song.

Considering that the media industry has developed significantly from the mid-20th century, more people are probably more familiar with Rizzuto as an announcer than a player. That reality is buttressed by the fact that he actually announced on the Yankees’ behalf for four decades. 

And with the 1970s being a more conservative era than now, many fans were cheesed that he participated in a song of this nature. Such would apparently be why, he denied that he knew what his vocals would be used for beforehand. Furthermore, he also did not agree to tour with Meat Loaf when he was invited to do so.

Paradise by the Dashboard

More “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” Facts

“Paradise by the Dashboard” on its own proved to be a chart topper in Belgium and the Netherlands. This is on top of achieving platinum status in the UK, US and Australia.

Ellen Foley, a singer from Missouri, served as an additional vocalist on this track. 

Amongst the instrumentalists on this song are pianist Roy Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg. Both men were at the time and ’til now remain members of the E Street Band, i.e. Bruce Springsteen’s backup who themselves are Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.

Meat Loaf and co. were able to put together a music video for this song on a modest budget even for that day. This was prior to the advent of MTV, so the clip was marketed rather by being shown in theaters alongside select screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), a movie in which Meatloaf played a role. 

Moreover, Ellen Foley also opted out of touring with Meat Loaf and being featured on the video due to prior professional commitments. So in her stead is Karla DeVito portrays the role of the female vocalist. This resulted in the world believing that DeVito sang on the recording, WHICH pissed Foley off for a while. 

Part of the reason the song experience lasting success is because MTV did go on to launch shortly thereafter. And being that there weren’t many music videos around at the time (especially from American artists), “Paradise on the Dashboard” got a lot of screentime thereupon.

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