Thursday, August 04, 2005

BUT YOU WON'T DO WHAT?



Walking up Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side, I passed the back of the majestic Beacon Theater where reputable bands play to larger audiences when they're too popular for the small venues but still too obscure to sell out arenas. Sigur Ros plays there next week. Damien Rice has played there in the past. Coldplay favors the venue when they want to play smaller shows "for the fans." A lot of bands also use the Beacon Theater for displaying the second phase of their careers or the reunion tours, as did Queensryche, Def Leppard, and The Allman Brothers. But today, I was fortunate.
Ahhh, the stars shined brightly over me on this very day as I walked past the theater during Meat Loaf's sound check.
Meat Loaf, the one and only! The same individual who was man enough to adorn breasts for Fight Club. The man smart enough to anticipate the Google search by splitting his name into two thereby avoiding the confusion that comes along when all the results of your search are meatloaf recipes.

I stopped for a few minutes to soak in the heftiness of his vocals as he sang along with his band. As luck would have it, he was practicing "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)," a total classic as far as I'm concerned. A classic in the same sense that a Broadway show can be; dramatic, over-the-top, ridiculous, completely uncool, but oh so enjoyable. As I heard him refuse to do that, I reminisced about the countless conversations I've taken part in over the years involving what that could be. I've heard many, many theories but, again, all of them just theories. And here I was, a mere few feet away from the man that could finally answer what that could be?

As I walked to the side of the Beacon Theater, I was determined to speak with Mister Loaf and get down to the mystery of his song. Yes, I've read the lyrics to "...Anything For Love" but I still wasn't satisfied. Raised on a healthy dose of Hardy Boys and Agatha Christie, I was certain that there was more to this insistence of not-doing other than the forgetting of the way she feels, or swearing to never screw around. Nope, there was definitely something more here...but what could it be?
The side of the Beacon is usually a hangout for the droves of weird and obsessed fans and yes, even though this was a Meat Loaf concert, this occasion would be no different. It seemed that Meat Loaf too had his legion of adoring followers, or more appropriately, Meat Loafers (better than Meat Oafs). The Loafers stood anxiously outside the side-entrance of the venue for a glimpse of the Beef himself. I walked over to one of them, a slightly-overweight women in her fifties, who had assuredly drove all the way in from Long Island early to get, perhaps, a signature or really, just a smile and a wave would do. I asked her if Meat Loaf had arrived yet. Disappointingly, she said no. He wouldn't be pulling up for quite sometime.
Perplexed I then asked who was singing inside?
"That's his bassist," she explained. "He does sound check for him [Kudos to the anonymous poster who already knew this. Standing ovation to you. You have earned your promotion amongst the Meat Loafers of the world.]."
"Damn," I said aloud. Now, I'll never be able to ask him. Does that involve murder? Thievery? Espionage?
Surrounded by Loaf scholars, I decided to ask Ms. Long Island for her interpretation. I figure, this is the closest I'll get to Meat Loaf. God is essentially giving me lemons, so therefore I will make Meat Loaf.
"Do you know the song "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)," I asked her?
"Of course I do," she replied. "I love it. One of my favorite live performances."
"Well then," I continued "what is the that?"
She laughed, thought for a moment and then turned to me with perfect comic timing and said, "But I won't do sound checks."

I thanked her and then walked away from the Beacon Theater. As far as I was concerned, the mystery was solved.

6 Comments:

Blogger BC said...

Yeah if you pay attention to the song, THAT is pretty obvious. he says it 2 lines before each "i wont do that"

for example:

"but ill never forgive myself if we dont go all the way tonight.
no i would do anything for love,
but i wont do that."

this was explained by both Loaf and Jim Steinman, so any other theories are wrong as far as i am concerned.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry but you didnt hear meat loaf doing vocals at the soundcheck...........he doesn't do a soundcheck himself.....kasim sulton does it..his bassist and musical director

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Michael Dube - Hey Arye said...

For the (Rockman) record, I don't agree with the conventional Storytellers wisdom that "that" in "Anything For Love" is merely the stuff right before each chorus (never stop dreaming of her, never forgive himself, etc.). I think that the stuff before the chorus merely embodies what "that" is. The stuff before the chorus is nothing more than examples.
Indeed, so many of us, in our search for love, give up love in order to find love. In fact, that's the quintessential characteristic of the modern human being -- we are constantly searching for love, whether we have it or not. But the character in "Anything For Love" is much nobler than that. He's the only one who'd do ANYTHING for love -- be it something difficult and painful like buy a round-trip ticket to hell, or be it something pleasurable and enjoyable like hose her down with holy water (we all know what that means) -- but he'd never GIVE HER UP. The clues are really the constant mentions of temporality -- a midsummer night's fling, never stop dreaming, some days, some nights, as long as the world is turning -- as opposed to anything else. What have we ALL done to find love? Give up love. What won't he do? That.

2:38 AM  
Blogger Arye said...

Thank you all for your comments. I am always suprised at the entries that provoke conversation--who knew that Meat Loaf would finally get you talking? Maybe I should write about him everyday?

I only hope and wish to inspire readers to post more often in the future. Thanks again for writing and reading.
Yrs,
A

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I preferred believing "that" was screwing around, as I believed for years.

5:23 AM  
Anonymous youcannotbeserious said...

hey, i just discovered a similar instance in hall & oates' i can't go for that (no can do):

Oh ill do anything that you want me to
Do almost anything that you want me to
Yeah but i cant go for that
No can do

10:47 PM  

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