This song is about a teenage boy trying to convince a girl to have sex with him in a car. Sex would be the "Paradise" for him, but she holds out until he says he loves her and will stay with her forever. Overcome by passion, he does, and honors his word to spend the rest of his life with her even though he can't stand her.
Like all the tracks on Bat Out of Hell, this was written by Jim Steinman, who has a very theatrical style perfect for Meat Loaf's operatic rock voice. Steinman said that the songs on the album are not directly personal, but are based on "obsessions and images.
Two members of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band played on this track: Roy Bittan (keyboards and piano) and Max Weinberg (drums). The song's composer Jim Steinman also contributed keyboards and is credited with "Lascivious Effects," which we assume are some of the lovemaking sounds during the baseball narration.
The Springsteen influence goes beyond the two musicians who played on the track. Steinman and the album's producer Todd Rundgren cite the Born To Run
album, and especially the songs "Thunder Road
" and "Jungleland
" as an influence. Bat Out of Hell
was an even more grandiose collection of passionate songs about looking for something better in life - the Springsteen hallmarks dialed up a few notches.
Singer-songwriter Todd Rundgren, best known for his songs "Bang the Drum All Day
" and "Hello It's Me
," was the album's producer and also sang background on this track. The album earned a huge payday for Rundgren, who found himself free from the shackles of the legal tender. Flush with cash, he started a video production facility and made one of the first videos to air on MTV: the clip for his song "Time Heals
On some levels, this song is absurd: a maudlin, grandiloquent duet running 8:28 (cut to 7:57 for the single). Many listeners heard the beauty in the song, but industry folks were far more skeptical, as it veered so far from convention. It made the US Top 40, but did so on the Billboard charts tagged as a "Novelty" record, the same label given to Cheech & Chong and The Chipmunks.
Even the musicians working on the album had their doubts. Kasim Sulton
, who played bass on the sessions (he was in Todd Rundgren's band Utopia), told us: "Through the whole process I remember distinctly saying to myself, 'This is just the biggest joke that I've ever been involved in. I cannot believe that these people got a record deal! This is just crazy. I'll never hear this record. It's just a joke. It's a comedy record.'"
Meat Loaf was originally signed to RCA records, but when they expressed dissatisfaction with the choice of Rundgren as producer, Loaf and company switched to Epic. Bat Out of Hell
was his first album, and a massive success, selling over 40 million copies worldwide despite peaking at just #14 on the US albums chart. The album had gone platinum by the end of 1977 and just kept selling. Meat Loaf's next few albums were disappointments, and he didn't have another US Top-40 hit until "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)
" from his 1993 album Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell
The woman's voice on the record is Ellen Foley, but she was replaced on tour with Karla DeVito. Their performances were sexually charged, but it was an act, as Meat Loaf was happily married. Foley has been in various movies, including Fatal Attraction, Married To The Mob, and Cocktail. She was also on the TV show Night Court until she was replaced by Markie Post.
The baseball announcer is former New York Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto, who became a broadcaster for the team when he retired. Meat Loaf was a big fan of The Yankees, so he made sure to get Rizzuto to do the baseball part.
Baseball is used as a metaphor for sex in the song. The young man almost makes it home, but is thrown out at the plate when the girl decides she won't have sex with him. Rizzuto claimed he did not know his part would be used to refer to sex, but Meat Loaf claims he knew exactly how they were going to use it. Rizzuto tried to distance himself from the song when he got angry letters from some Yankee fans with conservative values. Meat Loaf asked him to tour with him, but Rizzuto turned him down.
The baseball reference is strategically wrong because no baseball team uses a squeeze play with two outs. With two outs, all the defense has to do is pick the ball up and throw to first and you are out of the inning. Sure, you could try to bunt for a base hit, but that wouldn't be a suicide squeeze.
Meat Loaf convinced his record label to let him make a video for this song, which was a simple live performance clip, but very effective. Loaf was an established actor and brought his theatrical flair to the video. He also found a clever way to get it seen in the pre-MTV era: he convinced movie theaters to show it before midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a film he starred in and was becoming a cult classic. When MTV launched in 1981, they favored rock videos, but had very few available, especially by American acts, so they put "Paradise" in rotation, which gave the Bat Out of Hell album another bump in sales.
This is a very popular song at weddings and other functions where people like to dance, but no real dance skill is needed. At weddings, ambitious DJs will often have the guys stand on one side of the dance floor and the girls on the other, then have them sing this to each other. This works best at weddings with an open bar.
In 2003, General Motors used this in commercials to promote their "24 hour test drive." The campaign was titled "Sleep On It."
When he was producing the album, Todd Rundgren saw it as a spoof on '50s culture. "I thought, This is really out of time, but if we play along with it, and we do it right, maybe it'll sell a few copies," he said in our 2015 interview
. "None of us really understood, or envisioned, that it would turn into what it did turn into."