Paradise by the Dashboard Light

Album: Bat Out of Hell (1977)
Charted: 39


  • 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 Songfacts: "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 balked at 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 female vocalist on the song is Ellen Foley, who at the time was starring in the Broadway production of Hair. She was replaced on tour with Karla DeVito because Foley had other commitments, and because, as she told Top 2000 a gogo, "You're singing backgrounds and then you go up and he sticks his tongue down your throat for 12 minutes."

    The performances were sexually charged, but it was an act, as Meat Loaf was happily married. Foley parlayed her "Paradise" appearance into a record deal; she released a solo album called Night Out in 1979. She has since appeared in various movies, including Fatal Attraction, Married To The Mob, and Cocktail. Foley 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."
  • In 2008, this song was reworked for use in a commercial for the AT&T GoPhone. The ad stars Meat Loaf as a dad whose son asks him for the device. "Let me sleep on it," Loaf replies, but his son wins him over by extolling features like talk and text. He finally agreed to get him the damn phone, at which point the singer Tiffany shows up in the role of mom and sings along before, for some reason, releasing a dove.

Comments: 47

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI always thought one line was perfect for those trying for a baby: "You got to do what you can and let Mother Nature do the rest."
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenThat's a funny story about Phil Rizzuto. Always funny when they take the money and then plead ignorance when called on it.
  • Michael from Vienna (austria)I really why only in the Netherlands - where I come from - this song was a number one hits. It is one of those rock songs that is a real classic!
  • Eithne from IowaI bet this song has prevented more teen pregnancies than all the abstinence only school nonsense.
  • Dt from Gulf Breeze, FlThis was an excellent performance video.
    "Praying for the end of time - so I can end my time with you" funny lyric. Knew a few of those hot high school romances that ended up that way in a few years.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxBrilliant question, Doug. Wish I had an answer for it. I never connected those two songs, but now I always will!
  • Doug from Saylorsburg, PaThere's something I've always wondered about this song. In a way it strikes me as a response to Janis Ian's song "At Seventeen." One reason for this is the line at the end of the song "It was long ago and it was far away ..." which matches a similar line in Janis Ian's song. And, of course, the ages are the same. She's singing about missing out on love at 17 and Meat Loaf is replying that she may have been better of that way. Does anyone know if there's anything to this or if it's just a coincidence.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxSince they came out around the same time, I always think of 'Summer Nights' from 'Grease' when I hear this and mentally place Travolta and Olivia in that car.
  • Sandy from Enterprise, FlI don't think you can fully appreciate this song unless you were dating in the 1950s or 1960s. And then got married. And then got divorced.
  • Pryce from Litchfield, NhListen to the vocals during the baseball section...

    They might be not be talking though

    P.S. Not the announcer, in between that.
  • Charles Hollingswort from Leeds, AlTo Dee in Australia;Jim Steinman wrote this and many songs for Meat Loaf.
  • E J from Charlotte , TnWith 2 outs, it is called a " suicide squeeze Bunt".
  • Breanna from Henderson, NvThanks to this song everyone in my school thinks I'm weird. When asked what my favorite song was, I said Paradise By the Dashboard Light by Meat Loaf, I had to explain who Meat Loaf was, which is really sad. The only one who knew who it was was the girl who's favorite movie was The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a shame, he's an awesome artist.
  • Breanna from Henderson, NvThis is the best song ever! I love it!
  • Cody from ??????, OnAwesome song! And FYI, I believe the 2 outs etc. theory put forth by Marvin.
  • Logan from Anniston, AlThis is one of my favorite songs of alllll time.
    it is soo hilarious. I'd even go as far as to say this is one of (if not THE) funniest songs of all time. hahaha lol.
    Really funny stuff.
  • Doug from Harrisburg, PaTo say no baseball team would do a squeeze play with two outs is wrong. I saw the Red Sox beat the Yankees with a two-out squeeze play back in 1984 (+/- a year). I've seen a few others on highlight shows since then. It's rare, but not unheard of and succeeds because no one expects it.
  • S.d. from Denver, CoI always liked how the video begins with the opening dialogue from "Hot Summer Night". It doesn't fit this song that well, but it works so perfectly as an intro to the video.
  • Nick from Dacula, GaI think he says "And all the kids at school, they were wishin' they were meat that night" insted of "And all the kids at school, they were wishin' they were me that night" But I may be wrong...
  • Jesus Of Suburbia from Frinton On Sea, AlActually this isn't really a wedding song i'd say For Crying out Loud is a perfect wedding song even if it is 8:42 which is a long time to dance and speeds up in the middle which i am also listening to at the moment it is also 1 of Meat Loafs best songs along with Bat out of Hell Paradise by the Dashboard Light as mentioned earlier and Seize the Night which i am now listening to from his new 2006 album That song is absolutly amazing its the best song ever Rock vs Classical just like Bohemian Rhapsody in fact it is just as good as Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Barry from Ossian, InA great deal of space in this discussion has been wasted on opinions on the strategy and frequency of a squeeze play - myself included. DROP IT! (note: The use of a superlative is almost always innacurate ;)
  • James from Beloit, Wimust be nice to afford to only go to major league games if those of you above would bother to go to a minor league games you would see the squeeze play with 2 outs on a regular basis
  • David from Youngstown, OhAs for a squeeze play with two outs and a man on third, it's not a typical call, but it's not unheard of. Actually, if you've got a speedy runner on third and one at the plate, a drop bunt on the first base side would probably be successful. The pitcher and corner infielders would be caught off-guard. If the first baseman charges - and he would - the second baseman would have to cover first, again something he wouldn't anticipate. The Mets did this a couple of times in 2007 with success with Jose Reyes batting and Carlos Gomez on third on time and Lastings Millege on third the other time. I believe the Florida Marlins also used this at least once this past season.
  • Randy from Lynchburg, VaThe "Paradise" that he sees by the dashboard light is neither the girls name or the act of sex but is the promised land between her legs.
  • Paul from Rothesay, New Brunswick , CanadaPhil Rizzuto - RIP
  • Kristin from Yaphank, NyThis is a greta song, tells a story.
  • Craig from Gainesville, FlSorry Joe from St. Louis, but in baseball, no matter how many people cross home plate with two outs, if the batter gets forced out at first base none of the runs count. The fact up top is correct.
  • Ed from Ottawa, Canadajust throwing this out there...some people say first base is t*ts, second is 'hands-on', and third is oral...homerun is obvious.
  • Jake from Atchison, KsI think that Marvin, East Brady, PA may be on to something thinking some of the baseball reference may alude to the woman't bad choices. He gave her a chance to stop it there when he "practically dared the pitcher to try and pick him off.
  • Deo from Annandale, VaI always thought that Paradise was the name of the girl, and he could see her by the dashboard lights.
  • Hugh from Kansas City, MoEver see the live 'video' for this song? Judging by Ms. Devito's sweater, it was a very cold stage....
  • Jason from Troy, IlWe understand the metaphor Bill, Wolcott, CT, it's not that difficult to grasp. Ray's point is more of a literal clarification. In baseball, teams don't attempt a squeeze play with 2 outs. That's all there is to it.
  • Dee from Khancoban, Australiais it true that Elton John Wrote this? or am i dreaming?
  • Sailor from San Antonio, TxAnother little tibit,
    backup singer Karla DeVito is married to actor Robby Benson.
  • Bill from Wolcott, CtI have to comment to Ray in Jackson, NJ with regards to the strategy that teams use with 2 outs. Ray....its a song....first base is a kiss, 2nd base is feeling up her chest, 3rd base is below the belt...and the HOMERUN....or need to spell it out. Its only a metaphor for the song.....
  • Kailyn from Anywhere, NyI would like this song a lot better if it skipped the first two minutes or so. It is unnecessarily long for repetitive listening.
  • Don from Centreville, VaDanny DeVito doesn't have a little sister. His website says he has only a big sister, "Sister: Angela DeVito (beauty-parlor owner; older)"
    Karla DeVito is talented enough without having Danny as a big brother.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyThere is a story that "Scooter" Rizzuto had no idea what kind of song he was recording the baseball play-by-play for and was mortified when he heard the finished product.
  • HÃ¥kan from Falun, SwedenKarla DeVito is not related to Danny DeVito in any way.
    If you want to know more about her visit
  • Gelein from Apeldoorn, NetherlandsBefore we go hit the town me and my friends all climb up a table and sing this song! I love it!
  • Gregmon from Intelbuquerque, NmPopular at weddings? But praying for the end of time because I married you just to get laid and now I hate you, but I won't divorce you because of morals I hold-- I don't think it belongs at weddings.
  • Joe from Ocala, FlKarla DeVito is in fact Danny devito's little sister and Phil rizzuto did say that he would do the voice over as long as it didn't have any explitives in it
  • Ace from Marion, VaIf you read the liner notes, Ellen Foley is credited as "Mrs. Soft Piano"
  • Marvin from East Brady, Paactually, isn't it two outs to show the girl's strategic error? she didn't hav to get herself in that situation, she let him go for home rather than take him out before he even got to first...or sumthin like that
  • Ray from Jackson, NjThe baseball reference is strategically wrong as 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.
  • Sandy from Lacey, WaThis is a great song! I had my two teens listen to this, hoping they'd get the message at the end and not end up married w/someone they just wanted to sleep with! Rock on!!
  • Michael from Newark, DeEllen Foley (female vocal) later went on to play public defender Billie Young on the TV show Night Court in 1984-1985. She has also had parts in the movies Fatal Attraction, Cocktail, and Married to the Mob.
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