Q - What about Bat Out Of Hell speaks to teenagers?
JS - Yeah. I mean I'm totally retarded. (laugh) I mean I haven't gotten beyond 18. But I think it's you know, to use the old cliché it speaks to the teenager in everyone. I think, to me, the teenage aspect of everyone is the most attractive element. I mean, one of the lyrics I wrote on Bat Out Of Hell II was actually very profoundly sincere, that a wasted youth is better by far than a wise and productive old age. And I really believe that. I mean, I'd rather be an 18-year-old wasted kid than Morley Safer any day (laugh).
JS - Not to pick on Morley Safer except I'd rather be him than Andy Rooney. (laugh) It could have been worse. I just think that the teenage aspect of people is the greatest thing. How it's channeled is multi-varied, it can be horrible, great or whatever. But holding onto whatever that is, is to me really cool and valuable and important, as you grow older. And so I think it was simply speaking actually to the most primal elements of everybody.
JS - I'm always amazed to an extent that Bat Out Of Hell is such a big teenage album because half the songs in it are ballads and to me pretty sophisticated and mature. I mean, my favorite song on the record is the final song For Crying Out Loud which is hardly a teenage song but still fits into that world because it's life or death and urgent and it lives in the moment. And, you know, The Grateful Dead needed pot, I guess, to fuel it, so this needed semen. (laugh) It's just a different particular drug (laugh)
JS - It's just about very basic primal physical and emotional things, carried to an extreme. Basically to me the key to the record is I was trying to do something that was myth, mythic. And I love mythology and I love the mythology of rock and roll and there are different ways to approach rock and roll, obviously, a lot of them. And some rock and roll is, to me, what I call documentary or confessional.
JS - You know, I was writing this at a time that artists, singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Jackson Browne were really big. It was the exact opposite of my world. I remember auditioning for Warner Brothers in Los Angeles with my show, The Dream Engine. It was one of the most excruciating experiences in my life. All my trips to Los Angeles were excruciating. It was like it was another culture.
JS - They didn't at that time, it was like 30 people from Warner Brothers, all the top people and they hated when I did this audition of the show. One thing they didn't really know what the concept of a show is. They couldn't get around the idea that there were character singing, which was one of the good things that Bat Out Of Hell did, I think, well the records before it that did. But it wasn't the person like Joni Mitchell sang about her life, this was character singing. And, uh, they didn't understand that.
JS - So if someone sang a vicious lyric as a vicious character, they'd be totally baffled. And they would, I remember the first comment after the audition was over (laugh) when I knew I wasn't getting a great deal with Warner Brothers, was this guy stood up and said, you know, we don't need people like you in this world. Any they since usually teach that that's not a good entrée to a great deal (laugh)
JS - And they were very offended and pompous about it, because they went to a whole other thing, they went to James Taylor and that's that
JS - The weird thing for me was I was a big fan of Warner Brothers' records
Q - (overlapping) Yeah.
JS - And The Beach Boys and all the people Lenny Waronker worked with. That's why it was kind of shattering to me. Lenny Waronker was mainly upset when we did a personal audition for him. That's jumping ahead. That was Bat Out Of Hell after it was finished, if you want me to jump ahead. It was a finished record, all mixed, and Warner Brothers still wouldn't accept it. It had been done for Todd Rundgren's label that he had with Albert Grossman, Bearsville.
JS - And when it was all finished we thought we'd finally had it, Warner Brothers said, you know, we're not going to do much with Bearsville, this record is a big enterprise, we're going to have to approve it. So come out and do a live audition. This is after the record is completed and we had to do another live audition, me and Meat Loaf at the piano, and Ellen Foley, the girl who was with us.
JS - And we did in Lenny Waronker's office, this little office on a little upright piano and he had all the pictures of his family on the piano, like 35 photographs, all the grandchildren and kids, whatever they were, I don't know, foster children. It was just like this massive amount of beautiful little photographs. And I knew that was going to be a problem because I pounded the piano so hard you never want to put anything on it.
JS - And I was pounding away and Meat Loaf was howling and all of a sudden all of the photographs fell off the piano just like stoned koala bears on a tree in Australia going oh geez oh. And they just fell off the piano and fell on the floor and Lenny was horrified. And I just kept playing and you could see all these, his whole family, just laying on the floor in a rubble, a sort of mini Bosnia.
JS - And that's one of the reasons I think (laugh) he didn't like it. But nobody from Warner Brothers did except from, which I'll never forget Mo Austin was one of the greatest people I've ever met in music. He was sort of the father of Warner Brothers. And he liked it (laugh). He actually apologized to me, he said I can't sign this because I had 40 people there and 37 of them hated it and 11 actually said they'd quit if I signed it.
JS - He said that doesn't order well for the support I get from the company. He said but I liked it and he said one other person liked it, you won't know who he is but he was sitting outside because he hates auditions but this fellow named Randy Newman liked it and Randy Newman is one of my heroes. So that was nice to know. But everyone else hated it. And had no luck out there, but we had no luck in general with Bat Out Of Hell, it was beyond belief an uphill battle against actually very deep seeded prejudices and hatreds.
JS - I mean people truly hated it, which was for me kind of exhilarating. I mean - I love ecstatic reactions or vicious hateful reactions. I get nervous with just "hey that's pretty good".
Q - That the Brechtian part of you.
JS - (laugh) I just like extremism.
Q - After Randy Newman you were one of the secret weapons used to bring wit and humor to rock and roll.
JS - Oh yeah, I don't think, Todd definitely. Todd will probably explain it as the one reason he could get through the ordeal (laugh) was the humor. I never thought it was a secret weapon, I always thought it was a hilarious record. But I didn't think of that in a kind of "ha ha" way. I mean, to me the best comedy, you can't quite distinguish it from what's around it. I mean, I still, you know - Hitchcock was my other hero.
JS - If I was thinking of my heroes they were you know Elvis, The Beatles, Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, Hitchcock. And I remember when they all jammed together too. (laugh) It was an amazing scene. Hitchcock on bass, amazing. But the thing about Hitchcock, his movies were so inspiring to me that I really think far more than any of the musical inspirations I think I construct my songs Hitchcockian way. At least I try to. I can't reach his level.
JS - But what was brilliant about him to me was his movie, not one of his movies isn't funny. My favorite film of all time is Psycho, I've seen Psycho 23 times now. I think that's the only movie, it's like I always think if you have to pick one thing to teach, I liked it as an exercise. And if you have to teach film, to me you don't have to go anywhere beyond Psycho. You can watch that 1,000 times and each time find something new to tell people about.
JS - Everything, more than Citizen Kane, to me, more than anything Spielberg will ever do, it's in Psycho. And the great thing about Psycho is that it's a comedy. I mean, if you're defining Psycho my first thought would be to say it's a black comedy. A wonderful black comedy about America, about motherhood, it's the best comedy about motherhood that I know of. And all his films are like that though, everyone I love. And they're all comic in the same moments that they're horrifying. Partly because of the extremism again.
JS - And partly because of his perspective, he's always in a place where you didn't expect, the camera was. And he also, the way he would, you know, I'll tell you it's so specific that the way Bat Out Of Hell, the song, unfolds to me is very much like Psycho unfolds visually. Psycho begins, if you watch it, with a long shot of Arizona. Long shot of the whole city and then the camera goes into one area and then one building then one block.
JS - And then through the window of that building, two, you see Janet Leigh and John Gavin in bed, nude, having sex. And it's the voyeuristic thing, the fact that you start with what seems like a satellite shot of the whole State of Arizona, or at least the whole City of Phoenix but you end up in this bedroom. Bat Out Of Hell starts with a similar situation. You know, the sirens are screaming and the fires are howling way down in the valley tonight. And it keeps getting closer and closer until it ends up with these two kids, basically in bed, so to speak.
JS - And I just find those things were probably, you know, not conscious, but to me the way Hitchcock constructs things is the greatest and part of it is the humor. Is that, you know, it's not jokes, it's just part of the fiber of it. And also it's partly the extremism. I mean, my songs, whether or conscious or whatever, but they're so extreme that to me they're funny by definition 'cause they're so beyond the boundary of where they should go. And I think that lunacy of comedy and lunacy of ecstasy are very closely connected.
Q - Were you trying to make an ultimate album when you made Bat Out Of Hell?
JS - Oh no I wasn't trying to make the greatest, I didn't have a goddamn clue what the hell I was doing. (laugh) I was trying to get just from one chord to the other. I never intended to make records at all. I intended to do film or theater so it was all a surprise to me. And so it was an adventure but I didn't have any sense of that. I just knew that I had a vision for it which, looking back at it, was completely insane. I mean, it's seven songs and almost all of them are, like, eight or nine minutes.
JS - I certainly didn't have much sense of what radio was playing, or editing, that kind of thing. And most of them were edited anyway. They were seven minutes on the album but I thought of that as the single edit. They were 20 minutes when I (laugh) wrote them. I was just trying to get across what I had been trying to get across when I was writing plays and everything else. It was, I was trying to tell great stories and be very theatrical and not be real. And that was, I think, the main impulse.
JS - I never liked realism much and that's another reason I love Hitchcock. Because the one thing you can say about Psycho is it doesn't feel real, it feels like a dream. And I always thought the greatest music for me and the greatest theater, movies never felt real. They felt like you were entrapped in their own kingdom of dreams and it had that kind of logic. And going back, you can pick Alice In Wonderland, I know that all my favorite works are like that.
JS - And I think that was the difference, you know, at the time I was working Springsteen was doing stuff and there are a lot of comparisons. But I strangely enough never saw that because I always thought that Springsteen's stuff, which I adored at the time, was much more like - well in film terms it'd be like Martin Scorcese in Mean Streets. It was sort of confessional documentary. It was, again, more like the music Joni Mitchell was doing.
JS - It was very personal and very confessional and real. And I could always, I can never imagine Springsteen's songs in color, they were always in black and white to me. Great black and white. And I could never imagine my songs in black and white, they were always in lurid color. Kind of like the color of Fellini or anything extravagantly colorful. Just extreme. And hallucinatory and mythic as opposed to realistic.
Q - How did you and Meat Loaf decide to throw your work together?
JS - I don't know how he sees it, it was actually a very natural thing that we got him in this play More Than You Deserve and I was just astounded by his talent and his voice. And it was great for me to write for and to create for, and we started talking about doing a record. And neither of us knew really what that meant. But I started writing songs, I never changed my style of song writing it's just that it probably became more specific because I knew who I was writing for.
JS - And there was a physical embodiment of what I was thinking of. But I don't remember him pursuing me. I mean, he was very determined, as I was. So in a sense I probably was thinking of a lot of things, films and theater and he might have because he was so determined to strengthen my resolve to maybe try records because that's what he wanted to do more than anything. So together we really became sort of obsessed with doing a record. And that's my recollection of it, more involved together.
JS - That we both became more and more focused on doing a record. After we did that show at the New York Shakespeare Festival we did the National Lampoon Show on tour. That had been an amazing show and seeing John Belushi star there who is one of Meat's best friends. And I became musical director and we toured with that. And while we were touring I was writing and that was a good experience too, to just go around. And that had a lot of influence to me in other ways too.
JS - I could see how audiences reacted to Meat Loaf not just in the show More than You Deserve but in this show where he played 20 different characters and skits. They would chant his name at the end and it partly made me realize what a great name it was. (laugh) To hear a whole college, it was mostly colleges we played, a whole college crowd like 1,500 people who had never seen him before or heard of him, at the end going "Meat! Loaf! Meat! Loaf!" - it was very cool.
JS - And also it was a very blasphemous, irreverent show. I mean went much further than Saturday Night Live could ever go. And it was exciting for me to see extreme audience reaction too. I remember a lot of really extraordinary gigs we played. My favorite was, for whatever reason, how they booked it, we played like a bunch of gigs in the Bible Belt of Pennsylvania, strangely enough.
JS - It wasn't; you think of the Bible Belt as the Deep South, but there's an extraordinary intense Bible Belt in Pennsylvania. And they booked four shows in a row at these intensely Christian Bible schools. I don't know why. But the one I really remember vividly was they had just won their football game or something, it was a Saturday night, they were, it's typical for a Bible school, they were drunk beyond belief.
JS - They're the rowdiest, horniest I've ever known and we had an absolutely viciously sacrilegious crucifixion skit. Skit, it's in the show. And in the middle of it they started chanting the Lord's Prayer in anger and it was one of the most fascinating things to hear about 900 people, mostly it seemed like the jocks of the school, violently going "Our Father! Who art in heaven!!!" (laugh) and they were throwing bottles.
JS - And I remember they threw a bottle that knocked the top of the piano down. It was raised up with a stick and it hit the stick that holds the top up. And the piano almost came crashing down on my fingers and I just walked off. I figured
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Q - Why did it take so many years to make this record?
JS - It was probably like a lot of why it takes so many years to go from wanting to, to having (laugh) could be a lot of things. It was torture. It was, you know, we worked, Meat Loaf and I worked almost a year alone in a little rehearsal room, and that was my favorite time. That's what I wish people could've experienced. It was a little room, with a piano, in a cubicle basically not as big as this room. And that's how I really remember him. That's the room where you could feel the wall shake.
JS - He was amazing in that room and we worked really hard. We worked bar by bar on these songs. We treated them like it was film or theater rehearsal. It wasn't like the usual music thing and it was an extraordinary time. We thought it was great and Meat's Lawyer, David Sonenberg who became his manager then had the job of trying to get a record company and that was just horrible.
JS - Everyone hated it. It was, I mean, my recollection was, which I think is pretty accurate, we were rejected by about 30 record companies at least and I know we were rejected by about 17 to 20 producers. I used to say at the time, as David would remember, I said there are people who just have a vague notion of someday starting a record company whose first act is simply to reject us before they even have one.
JS - They were vitriolic rejections, they weren't nice, they were really nasty. My favorite rejection, which I really do treasure because I love Clive Davis, I think he's truly one of the only great people I've met in the record business, but his rejection was so brutal. He probably doesn't remember it like this but it meant a lot to me 'cause I like brutal rejections (laugh). Again, I like these extremes just like I was saying I like the fact that these Bible kids hated the National Lampoon Show, that exhilarated me 'cause I hadn't experienced that much.
JS - I hadn't experienced what it feels like for an audience to hate something 'cause they don't hate something that's bad. They hate something that upsets them and that makes them nervous, that creates a fault line and there's an earthquake forming and they're gonna fall in the crevice. That's exciting, I mean, that's actually a good thing for art or entertainment to do.
JS - That exhilarated me and I was usually exhilarated as I remember it by these rejections. I think Meat was far more depressed. I mean it wasn't joyful for me but it was when we did Clive Davies, and he was one of the later ones, where I remember David said this guy's gonna love it, he's a real music man. They were all, everyone we got rejected by, the next guy, but this guy's a real music man. And none of them were music men, but Clive kind of was and so we went into Clive's office (technical)
JS - Clive had just moved into it, he was just starting Arista Records. It was a little place in New York that had been Bell Records, that had Barry Manilow, Mandy had been on Bell Records, and he kept him for Arista. So we went in this little room and we played and when we did auditions with just piano, we did basically the exact same show we did a few years later for 25,000 people at Madison Square Garden.
JS - It was no different except it was me on piano (laugh) and Meat Loaf and Ellen Foley but it was all staged. I'd usually end up, it was my secret from when I was in bands in college to, if I made my nails, I cut my nails really short so that if I pounded really hard enough the skin would pull away underneath the nail, from the nail and I could hold my hands over the keyboard and bleed at the end. That was my gimmick (laugh)
JS - I was trying to compete with Kiss and all that. So it ended up with me bleeding on the keyboard and we did about 25 minutes. We didn't have all the songs then but through the whole thing Clive just sat there at the desk like he was on Prozac, totally bored, and he kept looking at his watch and you could tell he didn't wanna be there.
JS - Then we finished the audition. Meat was always like Moby Dick after a workout, just a mass of sweat and I was sweating and bleeding, and Ellen was simply in shock 'cause she had Meat's tongue down her throat for like five minutes and that always led to a certain kind of shock.
JS - And so we wait for Clive's evaluation and Clive, I remember this so well, he sits there and he's tapping his hand impatiently like waiting for a tandem and he goes, "oh is that it? Is the audition over?" We said yes. He goes, "all right, I do have a dinner in about 10 minutes so I'm gonna have to rush this but I do have some notes for you. Starting with you, Mr Steinman, do you ever listen to contemporary radio?" And that little signal went off, no this is not gonna be a great deal. That's not a good opening.
JS - I said yeah, I listen all the time to contemporary radio (laugh), wondering what I was getting into, and Clive said "well, I don't hear that in your music. It doesn't seem like, it seems like you really should, both of you, I think you, listen to me, I think Jim, particularly, you have to go back and listen to radio, what pop music's about."
JS - I said okay, what's wrong? He said, "well it's just that you don't understand what a pop song is, what we're looking for." This was really shocking to me 'cause it was so brutally stated. He goes, "I can explain it for you if you want, I can even diagram it, would you like that?" I said, yeah. I said, I'm gonna get a diagram from Clive Davis, wow!
JS - Then he takes out this yellow, I still have this, a little yellow pad and I have the little piece of paper and he starts writing on it and he says, "well let me tell you what we're looking for in a pop song. It's a very simple structure. You start with the verse, A", and he writes A. "Second verse is optional, but let's put it in". He writes A again.
JS - He said, "then there's a bridge", he writes B. "The bridge is simply the way we go from the verse to the chorus. In the industry we call it the hook" and he writes C. "Then you can have an instrument, that's optional too, but let's put it in - D instrumental". He says "but then from the instrumental you come back to the hook and you fade in the hook so the audience remembers the hook C, C, C and that's it", and he says "now that's what we're looking for".
JS - "Basically A, B, C, C, C, C. That's the key to a hit record. Now with your songs I got lost around W", and I said well, that's not good either (laugh) and he says "but you've gotta understand this structure. That's why it has to be this simple. Do you want this piece of paper?" And it's something like the Michelangelo tapestry of god handing something down to Moses. This hand hands me this yellow piece of paper and it was like the gods are giving me, and I still have this paper that has A, A, B arrow C, C, C, C, C.
JS - And I was getting lost at W and now I get lost around Z. I go into another alphabet (laugh) but it was brutal. He just didn't hear it at all and Meat Loaf the whole time, as I remember it, he was standing there and Meat had a great, he always had a great attitude. The thing about Meat was he really believed in the music, which was amazing. He really felt it viscerally.
JS - But another part of him, a more conscious level, always wondered if I wasn't truly insane and kind of, I know all the time he was looking into other song writers and he was particularly obsessed with this guy, I forget his name now but he wrote Drift Away. Troy Seals. That song Dobie Gray did in the '70s that was much more southern, sort of pop rock which is what Meat, I think, thought maybe he should go to, you know, more southern R & B tradition.
JS - And he was standing there with this look on his face like, "That's true. Jimmy's songs go all the way to W. That's no good. He's gotta learn how to write short songs. You know, I'm gonna be ruined. I gotta get another song writer!" and he had this look on his face that I could tell was sort of, you know, "Clive knows what he's talking about. Jimmy's gotta straighten up."
JS - And then Clive turned to Meat Loaf, who I was sure, he was gonna expect compliments and Clive goes, "now I do have to rush 'cause it's getting late but you, Mr Loaf, let me ask you" yeah, yeah, and he's all ready for the compliment. He goes, "do you ever listen to contemporary singers?" And Meat got this look on his face like, "yeah, why?" He says, "well you don't seem to. You seem to be more in the tradition of a Broadway singer, like Robert Goulet."
JS - And Meat got this look on his face that I really thought he was gonna kill Clive Davis (laugh). He just got this amazingly possessed look, "like Robert Goulet??!!!" (laugh), it's like, don't say Robert Goulet and it was very tense, I thought. Clive wasn't aware of it, Clive just went on. "You just have to adapt your style so you're not belting in this legit kind of Broadway 'cause no one likes that anymore, no one's interested in it."
JS - "So the two of you should go back to the drawing board 'cause there's some talent here but I just think it's so wrong and so misdirected. If you listen to pop radio and if you listen to a few pop singers, I think you'll see what they're going for", and that was my lecture from Clive who then became a great supporter over the years, but it was brutal.
Q - Do you think you guys were a long shot or a leap of faith?
JS - Well there's two ways to look at it. I mean, from a record person's point of view, which is of course the stupid way to look at it (laugh), it was a ridiculous leap of faith. It was absurd 'cause you gotta keep in mind what was going on at the time in pop music. It was the era of Saturday Night Fever, so it was disco. It was the dawn of disco.
JS - It was also the dawn of punk, really, the Sex Pistols at its prime. So you had punk and disco, are the two extremes, and there we are going these 10 minute Wagnerian rock operas, which made no sense at all to anybody. So from a record company's point of view, I think it made no sense. Now from my point of view, I'm not even gonna claim the higher ground of, you know, art or that I just thought - and I still think this way by the way - commercially thinking, you're starting 20,000 steps ahead of the game if you're doing something that no one else is doing.
JS - For instance if I said "I've got the greatest band of lesbian accordion playing polka fanatics, they do the greatest polkas on accordion, they're all lesbians, will you sign this?" I'd sign it in a second 'cause how many lesbian accordion paying... playing... [gets tongue-tied] ...you can't say that, I should find another term for it. How many polka playing, accordion playing lesbian bands are there?
JS - I just figure if there's a market for it, at least you're the only one. The fact is this is such a damn huge country, and world, there's probably a market for, in fact, I'm kind of into this idea of the (laugh) lesbian accordion band. But I just think that it you're doing something no one else is doing, you're ahead of the game to start with.
JS - So I'm sitting there thinking, if there is a market for a 350 pound guy singing Wagnerian 10 minute rock and roll epics, we got it covered! I couldn't think of any competition. There were 100,000 skinny blonde guys in satin pants playing guitar solos and screeching, and singing what you'd expect, but there's no one doing this. So to me it was actually stupid thinking. I just think why not go with the thing that has no competition?
JS - There's probably a market for it. I tend to think if it's in my brain it's gonna be in another brain, I do think that way, but that's not the way companies think.
Q - What song came first?
JS - The first song was Heaven Can Wait, which obviously enough, is a ballad, and the last song was Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad. Other than that the order is kind of confusing to me 'cause I was working a lot of them at one time. They would evolve strangely. Like Bat Out Of Hell was finished two thirds of the way through and I was the one who was obsessed with writing the part about the crash, the motorcycle crash.
JS - I remember fielding really upset phone calls from Meat Loaf and Sonenberg basically saying, what the hell's going on here, let's get started. I'd go, no the songs are really not done. They said, it's seven minutes long, seems done to us and I said, no there's gotta be a third section. There's supposed to be a crash, I've gotta come up with a crash.
JS - I'd go through this with all of them and it's like they kept getting longer and I kept evolving. So I'd keep working on like four or five at the same time. The only exceptions (are) just like 'cause there are certain big epics on the album and there are slightly smaller ones. Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad, Heaven Can Wait, and All Revved Up With No Place To Go, are the three.... I think of them as miniatures 'cause they're not six minutes longer and they are more just snapshots for me.
JS - The others, Bat Out Of Hell, For Crying Out Loud and Paradise By The Dashboard Light, and even You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, which is right in between, it's sort of a single length pop song, but I still thought of it somewhat as epic, they kept evolving. I kept working on them over a long period but the first one was Heaven Can Wait and they all started with a title, that's the way I write. They all started with a title or an image, a picture.
Q - What was the environment like at (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
JS - Well most of the work we did, honestly, was at a place called Nola, a rehearsal studio. I think we did do some work at the Ansonia Hotel. The cool thing about the Ansonia Hotel, this is when you wanna go in cultural history, what an era, Studio 54, and the Ansonia Hotel is particularly resonant for me 'cause it was my first paying job out of school, the first thing I ever got paid for, which may not, except I got paid in advance for the show I did, I was talking about - Dream Engine.
JS - Chapel Music gave me, like, 20,000 dollars and to me, coming out of school, that was 10 million dollars. I remember sitting there with my friend saying, "20,000 dollars? I'm never gonna have to work again! This is well, if I could get it up to 100,000 there's never any need to work! 'cause the interest you could make 10,000 a year and you don't need any more to live on than 10,000 a year...."
JS - I ended up having this tiny apartment in New York that at one point 14 people were living at (laugh). It was my little commune 'cause I felt like I was like Donald Trump. I had this 20,000 dollars and so that was really the first money I received for anything. But the first money for an actual job, 'cause I didn't consider writing a job, was a woman named Alaina Reed asked me to accompany her.
JS - She did Heaven Can Wait before Meat did and she asked me to accompany her and she said where she was performing and to go there. It was the Ansonia Hotel, a place called the Continental Bath, and she was opening for this new person named Bette Midler, and I had never heard of Bette Midler. No one had at the time and this was in the early '70s.
JS - I was thinking I should get very well dressed. I don't know what to wear. Maybe a suit's not right, I remember changing clothes like four or five times, and I only had three things to wear so that's a lot of changing. I ended up going to the Ansonia Hotel and I was very surprised to walk in and find this, the Continental Baths and there's like 300 guys walking around either nude or with towels around them.
JS - I'm saying, it's not Kansas anymore (laugh). It's, you know, cliché, I was thinking, I wasn't prepared for this. The Ansonia Hotel was just a wild combination of people who lived there, the Continental Baths, show business people who rehearsed there. It was a strange place, it was kind of wondrous though.
JS - Of course that's what memory does to you. A lot of the things that I remember that might have been seedy in reality, were pretty wondrous looking back on it because that was a pretty amazing decade, the '70s, actually. I mean, the '60s were the one that really shaped me but the '70s had all the residue of the '60s and it still was pretty dynamic. That whole double decade, I think of the '60s and '70s, was a cool time.
JS - As much as you can I have always working in my brain something like the old fogy filter, always trying to filter out sounding like the old fogy, going "oh you kids today!" I always think of myself going "mutter, mutter, I remember when this was all fields. Look at it today, oh you kids, mutter, mutter!" (laugh). I always try to stop myself from listening to something on the radio and saying, that is really dog shit. Then I listen again and I think, yeah it really is dog shit (laugh). It's not the old fogy filter!
JS - But looking back at that period there hasn't been any equivalent to it. I mean musically or otherwise. It was an extraordinary time. I mean, I just remember, certainly in college in the late '60s, not only the riots going on and protests and I was being beaten up by cops at demonstrations, but when a new Beatles album came out you'd rush and get it and like 20 people would sit, like in the sacramental situation, like a ritual, in front of these huge speakers in the music building at Amherst College, listening to it like a religious ceremony.
JS - You know, it's just a little hard to envision people rushing out when the new Nickelback comes out and forming a ritualistic group to hear it. It's been a long time since, I think music's done that and it's not to say anything except - movies are like that too. There's a golden era and that was I think the era that - the '50s when Elvis started, and the '60s, late '60s when I think rock and roll just blossomed wildly and so you were kind of privileged to experience it.
JS - It could change your life everyday (laugh) in a different way and whether it was the Beatles or Hendrix or Janis Joplin, it was amazing, or The Doors, which were my personal favorite.
Q - Meat Loaf has spoken, or written in his book - there's this book "Ulysses" I believe?
JS - Yes, Ulysses...
Q - But he's spoken about his contributions to the songs. I think - Paradise By The Dashboard Light, and you being inspired by a girl he'd gone out with, that he'd told you about... to what extent was Meat Loaf influencing or helping influence in any way to shape this album? Did any of your discussions end up shaping the songs?
JS - I know he tells that story about the girl in high school. I don't remember that shaping the songs but I'm sure it's possible. We would talk about so much that it's possible, it was probably symbiotic, a combination. I was probably saying that I wanna write the ultimate sex in the car song. He said, you know, Jimmy, I went out with this girl in high school, and so it was probably a combination of things.
JS - I pretty much wrote what I wanted to write but he was a part of my life and I was writing for him so I'm sure he had influences that I'm not even consciously aware of. But I'm never aware of sitting down specifically to write something that he suggested specifically. That's at least how I remember it. But Meat always had a feeling and it was frustrating for me, he always wanted to feel like he was writing, involved in the writing.
JS - I mean, he's done interviews where he actually, I think accidentally, says, "well when I wrote that song", and in fact I haven't mentioned when I sang those songs on the CD, I think he must've had an influence because he was who I was writing for and he was a larger than life character and profoundly exciting as a performer. But I don't remember details like that. The one I do remember he always mentions is that he knew a girl in Paradise By The Dashboard Light that he felt inspired. I don't remember that, but who knows?