Q - Did Todd think your idea for the motorcycle was a bad idea?
JS - Probably. You know, I don't know. It's always Todd's such a brilliant deadpan that he doesn't give away a lot. I'm just assuming 'cause he thought probably 90 per cent of my ideas were bad ideas. I suspect he did. I know that I was a real cry-baby about it. I mean, we did that whole song down and it was brilliant. It was, as I remember, one take and it was one amazing take. It had this big hole in it that, you know, I wanted the motorcycle. I wanted to hear motorcycles.
JS - I think Todd felt it was all over. I was like, you know, the really annoying whiny kid going, Todd where's the motorcycle? You said we could have a motorcycle. I want a motorcycle (laugh) like the kid you wanted to really slap around. He says, oh you want a motorcycle. You don't have enough. A thousand background vocals, a million guitar solos, a ten-minute song, you want a motorcycle. Yeah, I want a motorcycle. He says, all right. I said, do you have motorcycle sound effects?
JS - He said, no I don't deal with sound effects. I'll do it with my guitar. I said, how can you do that? You can do it with your guitar? I felt like a 4-year-old. I always did that with Todd. I always felt like a 4-year-old with his daddy 'cause he's so much smarter in music. So he said, I'll show you. I'll do it with my guitar. If you hear the multi-tracks you'll hear it. It's just one take and I remember he had the smallest guitar rack. It wasn't even big, it was no higher than this piano.
JS - He went over to it and he said, let's see, motorcycle, here we go. He said, oh I remember this great Todd sarcasm, he goes, I forgot to ask you, is it a Yamaha, a Kawasaki or a Harley Davidson? I said, oh Harley Davidson. I thought so (laugh). Why did I even ask? Then he actually, you know, you wonder (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so he goes and adjusts very specifically like three buttons on his rack. You don't know what he's doing and then he did the motorcycle with his guitar.
JS - It's still one of the most amazing, especially if you know it's one take. He just went there, it was like (MAKES NOISE). You hear it rev up, you hear the motor, you hear the fire coming out of it. You hear it do a wheelie. That's my favorite thing. At one point it does a wheelie. You hear it go (MAKES NOISE) and you can just see it rise up and do a wheelie. I think it was amazing. I thought he was going to stop for gas, and then he, you know, it's like, with Todd anything's possible.
JS - But I know that if he (SOUNDS LIKE) didn't think it was a bad idea, he certainly did when he heard me whining 'cause I was definitely whining (laugh). I want my motorcycles.
Q - Where did All Revved Up And No Place To Go start?
JS - Oh actually that evolved a lot. You know, that's interesting, that's the one song on the record that, I had, every song on the record I co-arranged with Todd. I really should say that's mostly his arrangement 'cause what happened with that is, that originally was a really, again, that was like a ten-minute song and it started very slow, like a (MUSIC). It was very tense and it started very low key like that, very sinister. It had a big sort of frantic dance in the middle.
JS - It was actually the whole (SOUNDS LIKE) suggest of a life of a kid who's all revved up with no place to go. I don't know if it's simply aesthetic differences, which was a big part of it, or the fact that I do remember that's the one time I got really sick. I had this terrible virus, flu or something. I was really healthy through the whole making of the record but we were up in Woodstock and I got really sick and I was actually in bed. I remember I couldn't do anything.
JS - I remember Meat Loaf coming up saying, Jimmy, Jimmy. He's like pulling me out of the bed. (SOUNDS LIKE) He said, get out of the bed. Todd's ruining the song. He's (MUMBLES) Jimmy, come on. Because Meat Loaf did all this other stuff, and it was so, you know, it was like the others. It was a big, elaborate epic. Todd, probably smartly, said, do they all have to be big, elaborate epics? Can't we have one that's just a song? A 4-minute rock and roll song? I probably said, no I want an epic. I want an epic (laugh).
JS - I remember Meat trying to pull me out of the bed. I said, I can't, Meat, I can't. He said, but he's going to ruin it (laugh). It was pretty much Todd's arrangement and it's brilliant. It's a great arrangement and he was probably right, it should've been, you know, nothing was changed musically but he just really streamlined it. Then it was cool 'cause we got Edgar Winter to come in and play saxophone on it, and that was funny. That was at Todd's studio and this strange albino saxophonist arrives (laugh) and hits notes that don't even exist.
JS - It was cool, but that was one take too. That was, though he did keep it, I always did have an ending that way. It was my, I called it my Led Zeppelin tribute where it's so fast in the ending. Todd did that great.
Q - Where did Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad begin?
JS - Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad began with the lyrical idea. It began with a really good friend of mine, who's now married to my best friend from school, a woman named (SOUNDS LIKE) Amy Kennedy. When I was complaining that no one wanted to sign us and no one seemed to like the music, saying, well it's so complicated. Why don't you write something simple? And the oldies station in the other room or something and they were playing Elvis. I Want You I Need You I Love You, which is a very simple song.
JS - She said, why don't you write something like that? I said, well I'll try. I went home and the best I could do was, I want you, I need you, but there ain't no way I'm ever going to love you. Don't be sad. Two out of three ain't bad. And still had to twist it around a bit. But it was still, it was definitely a conscious, that was, the album was basically finished, and they were complaining there were no singles.
JS - Which there probably wasn't (laugh). Everything was like seven minutes long and they wanted a pop single, and so, or ballad, and so I sent in to write that with that specific thought in mind. That's where it began, as a lyric. Then musically, I always feel the inspiration that was kind of country because I loved country music. More old country music, like from the '50s that I grew up as a kid hearing. Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. Not the kind of stuff today. Not like Garth Brooks and that, which is really pop.
JS - It was that country music that makes you want to take a shower 'cause the dust is all over you, you know. I always love country music lyrics 'cause they had a love of words and 'cause country music was so damned dark. It was so desolate. I love dark music and I always thought that got overlooked, how dark. I mean, I don't think you can get through Hank Williams's I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry without needing, you know, Prozac or something (laugh).
JS - It's just, that's as despairing a song as there is. It always sounds to me like a lonely coyote just howling and, you know, a dusty moonlit night. The melody was country when I was first doing it, it was like I don't know how the range will be. But (MUSIC) (SINGING) I want you, I need you, but there ain't no way I'm ever going to love you. Now don't be sad, 'cause two out of three ain't bad. Now don't be sad, 'cause two out of three ain't bad.
JS - It was that kind of like Johnny Cash thing 'cause it was way low, well, I'm lower now but I was (SINGING) I want you, I need you, but there ain't no way I'm ever going to love you. It was definitely the feel in my head and then just turned poppier. We made it pop, more pop than rock and roll, but in my head, in writing it, it was Johnny Cash on a lonely road with road-kill (laugh) surrounding him, singing backup (laugh).
JS - I just wanted to say that one of my fondest memories of when I first started out in the music business doing Bat Out Of Hell with Meat Loaf was that we had very few believers and a lot of naysayers. One of the believers I really remember vividly was John Sykes who was, at that time if I remember correctly, the head of college promotion in Buffalo, New York for CBS records and believed in the record unbelievably.
JS - Early on in '77 we were up in Buffalo to do a concert and there was an enormous blizzard, even by Buffalo standards, which means it was pretty superhuman to even exist through it. You know, something like 400 feet of snow, the usual. We were on the top rock and roll station in Buffalo and were pushing the show and all of a sudden they had us stop because the mayor of Buffalo went on every radio station in Buffalo to announce basically, with this great sense of seriousness, he says, please stay home.
JS - Please do not leave your homes for the next 48 hours. This is one of our biggest storms this century. We'll take care of it but don't leave your homes. That was the key to his message and then it came back to us and I remember immediately Meat Loaf going, everybody come out to the show tonight. Come out. It's going to be a great show. Don't listen to him. Come out to the show. Sykes was right there and John says, that's right. Do that. We'll get, we'll make sure it's full. It'll be full. It'll be full.
JS - I remember that was just a tiny example. I think in the, any guy who could be this passionate and this reckless at this time has got to be a great believer in artistic vision and a great executive for anything involved with the arts. We went right from, we raved about him afterward. I'm going to act like me and Meat Loaf, take all the credit for what happened to John, but we went back to CBS and raved about John Sykes and Buffalo.
JS - Next thing I know they were moving into Chicago, and next thing I know he's running VH1 and now he's apparently going to be next president. That's obviously a step down, but I just wanted to thank John for being an early believer and for his wonderfully passionate recklessness, which is part of believing. So I'm not surprised at anything that happens to him, and thanks John. Never got to say that.