The Story of... 'I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)' by Meat Loaf
21 January 2022, 13:44 | Updated: 21 January 2022, 16:01
It's fair to say that no one quite mastered the rock power ballad quite like Meat Loaf.
And 'I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)' ranks at the top end of his outlandish oeuvre.
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But who wrote the song? Was it a success when it was first released? Here's all you need to know about Meat Loaf's classic track:
Who wrote 'I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)'?
The iconic ballad wasn't actually written by Meat Loaf himself, rather his confidant and frequent songwriting partner Jim Steinman.
They'd already collaborated on Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell (which remains as one of the top 10 best-selling albums of all time might we add), so joined forces once again for the rocker's big hit.
Detailing the unrequited love of a mysterious admirer, the song plays out the inner torment from the perspective of Meat Loaf, in no less than 12 minutes.
Of course, the song was subsequently edited for the purposes of radio and the accompanying video, but it contains all the hallmarks of Steinman's musical expertise.
Having written for the likes of Bonnie Tyler, Cèline Dion, and Barry Manilow, Steinman actually pinched lyrics "I'd do anything for love, but I won't do that" from one of Tyler's tracks 'Getting So Excited' and repurposed them.
What was ‘that’ Meat Loaf was talking about?
Well, this has sparked debate amongst Meat Loaf fans and the like for years since the song's initial release, proving to be his most frequently asked question.
Each of the song's verses states two things that the man (or Meat Loaf) would do for love, followed by one thing that he will not do.
In this case it could be either of the following:
- "forget the way you feel right now"
- "forgive myself if we don't go all the way tonight"
- "do it better than I do it with you"
- "stop dreaming of you every night of my life"
Both Meat Loaf and songwriter Jim Steinman have put their own explanations forward separately, though they don't quite share the same opinion.
Meat Loaf claims the song's lyrics are unambiguous and straightforward, whereas Steinman stated in an interview: "Exactly what Meat Loaf won't do for love remains a mystery to this day."
What happens in the video?
Based on both Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom Of The Opera, the music video for 'I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)' depicts a lonely, vampiric Meat Loaf lurking in the shadows whilst declaring his love for the unnamed woman.
Directed by Hollywood action movie aficionado Michael Bay, there's plenty of action involved too as the central character is involved in a police chase, then is hounded by more police as the video continues.
He comes across a beautiful woman who herself begins to follow the ghoulish Meat Loaf, until they confront each other at the video's conclusion.
Just as in Beauty and the Beast, once their true love is declared despite his appearance, Meat Loaf returns to his human form.
And they ride away together into the sunset on a motorbike. The happy ending we all hoped for.
When was it released?
'I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)' was released in August 1993.
It was the first single from the album from Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, Meat Loaf's sixth studio album and the second part of his Bat trilogy.
How did it perform in the charts?
'I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)' was an immense success, topping charts across the world and earning Meat Loaf a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo.
It reached No.1 here in the UK and was the best-selling single of the entire year.
Us Brits went mad for Meat Loaf once again in 1993, so much so that Bat Out Of Hell was reissued here and joined 'I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)' in the charts, making the rocker the only artist to have two singles in the UK top ten at the same time.
In most countries it was Meat Loaf's only chart-topping single, making the song arguably his most enduring.
Any other weird facts about the song?
Funnily enough, yes.
Television adventurer and UK Chief Scout Bear Grylls claimed the song provided him with the impetus to join the SAS as a young man.
"Enthusiasm and determination count for so much more than skills, brains or qualifications... and all this expressed itself to me through Meatloaf's song!" said Grylls.
Well there you go.