So, in my last post I asked about the songs that inspired people’s love of music. I got some good replies – Guns n Roses, Queen, Weezer – and so, I guess the time has come to share the song that made me hear music in a different way.
I’d like to say it was something that people who write clever articles about rock music would find credible. My favourite song is Springsteen’s Thunder Road, and critics respect that – it represents the American Dream and the repressiveness of small town life. You can get an essay or three out of that.
Unfortunately that isn’t the song that got me listening to music. That was Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt.
Haha! No it wasn’t! Although that was the only time anyone’s used the word ‘haha’ in connection with Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt.
No, the song that made me truly hear music was…
I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) by Meat Loaf.
I don’t apologise for that, even though some readers are now rolling their eyes. It’s a fantastic song, mainly because it’s big and over-the-top and epic. As its writer Jim Steinman once said (I think, I’m working from memory hear, sorry Jim), “There’s nothing wrong with going over the top, that’s how you get to see what’s on the other side.”
I admit I’m not a huge music Fan-with-a-capital-F – I like songs more than I like albums, and rather than appreciate music, I react to it, which means I’m easily manipulated by a key change or a clever turn of phrase.
So one night, when I was a lot younger, I was listening to a local radio station when Anything For Love came on. And it got me. It’s hard to explain how, but it was a similar experience to Terry Pratchett’s first listen to another Meat Loaf song: “I was driving down the motorway when Bat Out of Hell came on the radio,” he says, “And when it had finished I was considerably further down the motorway with no idea how I got there.” I know how he felt.
I guess it’s about music as a soundtrack, as an experience, as something that provokes a reaction, and outside of each composition’s individual, objective merits are moments when a song hits you and you just react. It’s a bit of a primal reaction, and regardless of rock snobbery, it’s kinda cool.
And it means I know what Meat won’t do for love…