December 19, 2012

Keep on the Sunny Side

Meat Loaf, meet Meat Oaf

Pablo Picasso saw Françoise Gilot’s lovely, fragmented Cubist face as an ashtray for stubbing out his Gitanes. I am not likely to forgive him for that, but on account of my sick and dysfunctional family training, I can’t just cast him aside. I have to accept his nauseating flaws, like some freaky Republican uncle at Thanksgiving dinner.

But what if Picasso had gotten totally loaded on Rioja at some high school football game and gotten up onstage at halftime to sing “America the Beautiful” with Mitt Romney and those terrible dudes from Big & Rich?

Would I feel personally betrayed? Would the quality and importance of his previous work make it necessary for me to overlook this behavior, even if it meant that I had to claw out my own eyes on account of the video I saw on YouTube that had burned into my retina like acid into a fresh copper plate, or a French cigarette into a stick of butter?

Well, the staggeringly drunk guy singing with Mitt was not the long-dead greatest painter of the 20th century. It was, in fact, my beloved Meat Loaf, the large, sweaty face of 1977’s awesome, disjointed rock-opera masterpiece Bat Out of Hell.

As the freaky Fabio-Viking guy rode his chopper around the 33rpm loop de loop of my limited-edition picture disc, I followed Meat Loaf through this Wagnerian wonderland of triumph and despair. The record is perfect. Meat Loaf’s incoherent cracker “politics” can’t change that.

Todd Rundgren, who produced Bat Out of Hell, originally thought the songs were intended to parody Bruce Springsteen. Maybe Republican conspiracy theories about “The Boss” withholding his affection from Chris Christie just long enough to win the election for Obama missed the point.

Vengeance is best served cold, like pizza for breakfast or a meatloaf sandwich.

A kind of oranges vs. apples Cubist fruit bowl of math goes on in my little brain when I weigh the value of a person’s art against the wretched, troublesome shit they might get up to in their free time. If the person is someone I can’t live without, I try to separate the jarring, icky bits from the beautiful, heroic bits. I suspect this isn’t a very healthy way to proceed with people who you actually know.

If you believe someone is using their wife for an ashtray, or getting really hammered and hanging out with Republicans, it’s probably not good to just compartmentalize all of that mess.

Does Loretta Lynn cast her lot with the political dark side? Be careful what you Google. I don’t really want to know. When people talk like that, I just stick my fingers in my ears and sing “Coal Miner’s Daughter” really loud. My love for Loretta remains pure.

Really, Meat Loaf hasn’t cared much about my opinion for a long time. If he gave a damn what I thought, Bat Out of Hell II would never have happened. My boycott of his merchandise would have less effect on his record sales than my Cracker Barrel boycott has had on horehound candy futures. Bat Out of Hell still sells around 200,000 copies a year. That is a lot.

The election is over. Why I am still so freaked out about Meat Loaf being a Republican? I doubt his endorsement was very helpful, anyway. The whole show looked like nothing but bad news. By the end of the song, even Mitt Romney was crossing the stage to get away from him. Mitt goes over and stands by Mr. Big and Mr. Rich — a great photo-op. None of them seem to have any idea how the song goes.

Catherine Irwin is a songwriter and house painter currently living in dread of waking up with yet another “end of days” hangover. There is so much talk about the righteous being sucked up into the sky on Dec. 21. The streets will be littered with abandoned pants (wallets still in their pockets!) and Cadillacs with keys still in their ignitions. It has also been prophesied that loads of real estate will suddenly become available way out off of I-64. Please don’t let me down again!