Meat Loaf’s latest hard-rock opus, Hell in a Handbasket (Sony Legacy), would’ve made a fun soundtrack with which to celebrate a Barack Obama defeat.
The theatrical rocker—whose three Bat Out of Hell albums (released in 1977, 1993, and 2006, respectively) have sold a combined 60 million copies worldwide—made headlines in October by appearing at a Republican rally in Ohio. “[T]here is one man who will stand tall in this country and fight the storm and bring the United States back to what it should be,” the man affectionately known as “Meat” proclaimed. “Gov. Mitt Romney!”
Obviously, the endorsement wasn’t enough, but it could have been. At 65, Meat has clout with the AARP crowd. And he might’ve peeled off a few youth and black votes too. Hell in a Handbasket includes cameos by Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, Trace Adkins, and the rappers Lil Jon and Chuck D.
Meat Loaf, obviously, is a uniter, not a divider.
Unfortunately, Handbasket barely made Billboard’s Top 100. And even if it had been a hit, its March U.S. release may have proved too little too early in the same way Meat’s October Romney support proved too little too late.
As a soundtrack to which conservatives can lick their wounds, however, Handbasket isn’t bad. “I cannot believe this stuff,” Meat sings in “Mad Mad World.” “Getting madder every day. / Get involved, and they’ll blow you away.”
On the one hand, it’s an admission of defeat. But on the other, it could be interpreted as a declaration of intent to run for office. When he sings, “Somebody got to stand in the storm,” he’s all but reporting for civic duty.
And there’s a spiritual undertow to Handbasket that suggests Meat could appeal to the religiously inclined. The song in which he sings “Some say it’s politicians playing both sides, / some say it’s greed, some say it’s change, / some say it’s all just the price we’ll have to pay” is the apocalyptically titled “40 Days.” And in “Our Love and Our Souls” he claims to want nothing so much as to “pray every morning, / as I make up the bed, ‘Lord, all I need today is my daily bread.’”
Could the United States be ready for a “President Loaf” in 2016?
If we are, the short list of Meat’s running mates would have to include Kid Rock, a genre-mashing rock ’n’ roller whose well-chronicled moral turpitude has not kept him from openly and enthusiastically supporting the party of family values.
Rebel Soul (Atlantic) is the title of his new album, and the term refers both to him and to the style of music into which he’s currently throwing himself. It refers to him because he is a rebel (against being sold a “one-world nation” by “Uncle Sam,” against rockers who sell out, against “fads and fashion”) and to his music because the best of his latest 14 songs cut a swaggeringly soulful swath through jukebox-friendly American musical styles, gospel included (“Midnight Ferry”), making them as hard to pigeonhole as they are to resist.
Most irresistible is “Detroit, Michigan,” which name-checks and celebrates such musical heroes of Rock’s home state as Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Bob Seger, Aretha Franklin, and George Clinton, each of whose spirits Rock taps (Seger’s especially) for inspiration.
But the song also mentions Eminem, and it’s Rock’s tapping of Marshall Mathers’ linguistic and sexual latitude that simultaneously earns Rebel Soul a parental-warning-explicit-lyrics sticker and identifies Rock as a rebel against good taste.
Then again, a distasteful U.S. vice president is not exactly unprecedented.