Whether you are a fan of rock, country, hip-hop or pop, at some point in your life you most likely sang a portion of Meat Loaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” out loud. His legendary 1977 album, “Bat Out of Hell,” is very often part of almost any album collection.
Tuesday night and Thursday night, the real “Bat”-man returns to Long Island for a two-night stand at The Paramount in Huntington.
Newsday spoke with Mr. Loaf, 68, about his live performance strategy, competing with his younger self and the state of his relationship with “Bat Out of Hell” songwriter Jim Steinman.
People are emotionally bonded to your music. How do you think that occurred?
I never tell the audience what the songs are about. I’ve always said once someone buys one of our records, it no longer belongs to me, it belongs to them. The songs become their vision and their interpretation. It has nothing to do with me. I’ve never asked Jim Steinman why he wrote a song and he’s never asked me, “What are you singing about?”
You tend to throw yourself into your live performances. How do you prepare and recover from them?
I don’t know. It’s the same as when I played football — you just go into the zone, play through and don’t deal with the pain. I believe that an audience works hard for their money; therefore, I’m going to work hard for mine.
What’s your relationship like with Jim Steinman?
Well . . . for example I was trying to sleep at 1 a.m. the other night and he sent me 14 emails. We were talking back and forth.
What kind of impact does the crowd’s energy have on your performance?
I don’t pay attention to the audience. My shows don’t rely on audience participation. The only time I notice an audience is if they are dead. At that point I’m screaming at the band and I come at the crowd like a freight train. By the end of the night, I make sure they are on their feet.
What song from your catalog is closest to your heart?
I’d say, “For Crying Out Loud,” but it’s also the most difficult to sing, and I’m not 26 anymore.
Does that seem to bother people?
You get these people who bought “Bat Out of Hell” and they’ve never bought another Meat Loaf record after that. They come to the show expecting me to sound like I did when I was 26. But, they seem to give me a harder time than someone like Elton John. If you put on “Rocket Man,” then listen to him now, there’s a huge difference. I’ve had three sinus surgeries and three vocal surgeries. But these people made “Bat Out of Hell” their own record, therefore anything that disturbs that . . . they get upset and say, “You can’t sing anymore.” Yeah, I can! I just don’t sound the same.
How would you compare Meat Loaf on stage to offstage?
I’m really boring offstage. I’m very picky. I can’t go anywhere, I don’t talk on days off and I never leave my hotel room. I’m very susceptible to any kind of infection. I’ve had a lot of bronchitis and pneumonia, which is why we cut out meet-and-greets.
What memories do you have from playing Long Island?
We played at My Father’s Place, Nassau Coliseum, Jones Beach. I remember playing a gig way out on the East End where the power went out at 9 p.m. The crowd waited and the power came back on at midnight. We came on at 12:15 a.m. and played the full show. I can’t remember the name of the club. I’m just old. That’s my excuse for anything now.