Blog, SLS

Song Lyric Sunday – Paradise By The Dashboard Light

This week, Jim Adams gives us the following criteria for Song Lyric Sunday:

Find a song that references I/Me/Them/Us/You/We

This one should be fairly straightforward for everyone because there are literally thousands of songs to choose from. I knew immediately what song I wanted to feature. Are you ready to talk about sex?

“Paradise by the Dashboard Light” was about a presumably young man trying to convince his girlfriend to have sex with him. There were several versions and lengths of the song released ranging from 5:32 (radio edited) to 6:58 (without play-by-play) to 8:28 (with play-by-play).

Lyrics

The lyrics (and the music) were written by Jim Steinman. According to Wikipedia, Jim Steinman said he wanted to write “the ultimate car/sex song in which everything goes horribly wrong in the end.” The song is broken into three parts which we will get into as we go along. Jim Steinman was a prolific songwriter and composer.

Writing all words & music by himself alone, two records of his, Bat Out Of Hell and Bat Out Of Hell 2  sold 44 million copies and 26 million copies, respectively, both sung by Meat Loaf. His #1 records include: “I’d Do Anthing For Love But I Wont Do That;” “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All;” “Total Eclipse Of The Heart;” “Paradise By The Dashboard Light;” “Bat Out Of Hell;” “Two Out Of Three Aint Bad” and “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” He received a BMI Award For Biggest Song Of Year for which he won a Grammy for producing Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You”, with others. Film work included Footloose, Streets Of Fire, and Shrek 2.

“Jim Steinman.” Jim Steinman | Songwriters Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame, 2020, http://www.songhall.org/profile/jim_steinman.

Vocals

The song was released in 1977 by Meat Loaf on the album “Bat Out of Hell” with Jim Steinman as the writer/composer and Todd Rundgren as producer. Wow does this album have a lot of history! I read several articles, many with conflicting facts, so let’s just say it was not produced without a lot of ensuing drama. This would be the first of many collaborations between Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf.

Female vocals were by Ellen Foley. On tour, these vocals were performed by Karla DeVito who has said she had to put up with a lot that was outside the job description while on tour.  According to Wikipedia, the video features Karla DeVito but she is lip syncing the words to the vocals of Ellen Foley. Later on, Patti Russo toured with Meat Loaf and performed the female vocals.

The Lyrics Breakdown

Part I

The structure of the song consists of a couple reminiscing about early years parked by the lake in which the boy (Meat Loaf) tries to coerce the girl (Ellen Foley) to “go all the way”.

After the male and female sequences, a play-by-play account is given is given by New York Yankees announcer Phil (The Scooter) Rizzuto. There is some disagreement about whether Rizzuto knew what he was recording and it’s relationship to sex. According to this article by Jim Pearlman,  Meat Loaf said he knew but downplayed it publicly.

Part II

The “play” is interrupted by the girl who says “stop right there” and asks if the boy will marry her and love her for the rest of her life. It is then the boy who stops and says “let me sleep on it”.

Part III

In the third part, the boy gives in, promises to love her until the end of time to get what he wants. Later, he recalls the event so long ago and now prays for the end of time.

My daughter, who has a beautiful voice, used to sing the female part of this song when she was performing at local venues in college. It was always a big hit with the audience and one of the reasons I have fond memories of this song.

Paradise by the Dashboard Light
Lyrics courtesy of azlyrics.com

[Boy:]
Well I remember every little thing
As if it happened only yesterday
Parking by the lake
And there was not another car in sight

And I never had a girl
Looking any better than you did
And all the kids at school
They were wishing they were me that night

And now our bodies are, oh, so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we’re glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
C’mon, hold on tight
Well, c’mon, hold on tight

Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light

[Girl:]
Ain’t no doubt about it we were doubly blessed
‘Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed

[Both:]
Ain’t no doubt about it
Baby, got to go out and shout it
Ain’t no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed

[Boy:]
‘Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely dressed

Baby, don’t you hear my heart
You got it drowning out the radio
I’ve been waiting so long
For you to come along and have some fun
Well, I gotta let you know
No, you’re never gonna regret it
So open up your eyes
I got a big surprise
It’ll feel all right
Well, I wanna make your motor run

And now our bodies are, oh, so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we’re glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
C’mon, hold on tight
Well, c’mon, hold on tight

[Both:]
Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light
Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
Paradise by the dashboard light

You got to do what you can
And let Mother Nature do the rest
Ain’t no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed
‘Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely

[4x]
We’re gonna go all the way tonight
We’re gonna go all the way
And tonight’s the night

[Radio Broadcast:]
OK, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker going here
Two down, nobody on, no score, bottom of the ninth
There’s the wind-up, and there it is
A line shot up the middle, look at him go
This boy can really fly
He’s rounding first and really turning it on now
He’s not letting up at all, he’s gonna try for second
The ball is bobbled out in the center
And here comes the throw and what a throw
He’s gonna slide in head first
Here he comes, he’s out
No, wait, safe, safe at second base
This kid really makes things happen out there
Batter steps up to the plate
Here’s the pitch, he’s going
And what a jump he’s got
He’s trying for third
Here’s the throw
It’s in the dirt, safe at third
Holy cow, stolen base
He’s taking a pretty big lead out there
Almost daring them to pick him off
The pitcher glances over, winds-up and it’s bunted
Bunted down the third base line
The suicide squeeze is on
Here he comes, squeeze play, it’s gonna be close
Here’s the throw, here’s the play at the plate
Holy cow, I think he’s gonna make it

[Girl:]
Stop right there
I gotta know right now
Before we go any further
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy
For the rest of my life?
Will you take me away
Will you make me your wife?

Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy
For the rest of my life?
Will you take me away
And will you make me your wife?

I gotta know right now
Before we go any further
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?

[Boy:]
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby, let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I’ll give you an answer in the morning

[Both:]
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby, let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I’ll give you an answer in the morning

Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby, let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I’ll give you an answer in the morning

[Girl:]
I gotta know right now
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy
For the rest of my life?
Will you take me away
Will you make me your wife?

I gotta know right now
Before we go any further
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?

What’s it gonna be, boy?
Come on. I can wait all night
What’s it gonna be, boy?
Yes or no?
What’s it gonna be, boy?
Yes or no?

[Boy:]
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby, let me sleep on it
Well, let me sleep on it
I’ll give you an answer in the morning

[Girl:]
I gotta know right now
Do you love me
Will you love me forever
Do you need me
Will you never leave me
Will you make me so happy
For the rest of my life
Will you take me away
Will you make me your wife

I gotta know right now
Before we go any further
Do you love me
Will you love me forever

[Both:]
Let me sleep on it
Will you love me forever
Let me sleep on it
Will you love me forever

[Boy:]
I couldn’t take it any longer
Lord, I was crazed
And when the feeling came upon me
Like a tidal wave
I started swearing to my god
And on my mother’s grave
That I would love you to the end of time
I swore I’d love you to the end of time

[Both:]
So now I’m praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
‘Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don’t think that I can really survive
I’ll never break my promise or forget my vow
But God only knows what I can do right now
I’m praying for the end of time
It’s all that I can do (ooh, ooh)
Praying for the end of time
So I can end my time with you

[Boy repeat until the end:]
It was long ago and it was far away
And it was so much better than it is today

[Girl repeat until the end:]
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we were glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife


I prefer the vocals by Ellen Foley, so this is the version of video I chose to feature. It is interesting to note that in live performances, the singers duel it out as their relationship crumbles into loathing. Watch until the end, but grab something to drink before you do. It’s a long one!


Many thanks to Jim Adams who provides this great platform every week. Be sure to head over to his blog and read some of the other great entries. You may be intrigued enough to play along.

19 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday – Paradise By The Dashboard Light”

    1. He was rather shouty, Pete, and I was never a huge fan of his either. I think the success of this song can be largely credited to the writer and the team of talented people that pulled it together.

      In my research, I discovered some felt Meat Loaf was more of a rock opera performer and the live performances seem to bear that out.

      I think I only know one or two of his other songs.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Linda, I think this song is so relatable to the American culture of the 50s and 60s. I think the first time I ever really ‘heard’ it was when my daughter performed it in college.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love this line, “we were barely seventeen And we were barely’ hey what rhymes with doubly blessed? Phil Rizzuto was one of the best defensive shortstops of his era, leading the American League three times in double plays, twice in fielding and putouts and once in assists on a team built around power. He was known for saying “Holy cow!” as an announcer. In college I was given the assignment to look up a news article on what happened on the day that I was born and I read that Rizzuto signed a $50,000 contract that day making him one of the highest paid players in the game. I worked as a caddy and Phil was invited to the country club by one of the members and the round of golf took a bit longer than usual, so a helicopter landed by the 17th green to pick up Phil to take him to Yankee stadium.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quilt Jim, researching this song there were so many offshoots I could have written about. Phil Rizzuto was one of them. My dad was a huge baseball fan so he was well known to our family. You have some great memories! How fortunate.

      One more thing I discovered was that a few radio stations in Boston, dubbed Red Sox announcer Dick Stockton doing the play-by-play over Phil Rizzuto when aired on their radio stations.

      The background of this song and the association between the key players could fill a lot more pages.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m so glad you did this song! I had this album in both vinyl and cassette. Reminds me of being a teenager again and I thought it was a great accompaniment to Two out of Three Ain’t Bad. They seem to go together with the theme of my youth.

    Like

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