Mixing Memory and Desire

It was about 4:30 am this past Friday morning when I was ripped from a dream that I would have rather been continuing to play a role in rather than being annoyed by the dinging that indicated I received a text. (I had recently read The Mind Is Flat in which the author claims that dreams are not in color; I can assure him that that was not the case at all when the incessant chimes began.)

“Meat Loaf is dead”

it said.

I saw it was from Henry Melrose, and I figured that he, a single man, either was suffering from insomnia and was going through the recesses of his refrigerator and thought he would share the findings with me or that he had had some Thursday for dinner and found out that it was disagreeing with him.


I replied. There were other responses that my addled brain filed through, but it would have taken too much work to input them.

He realized that I didn’t know what his message meant—I mean, it was 4:30 in the morning and I was in the midst of a technicolor extravaganza, the likes of which makes Bollywood productions seem drained—and added:

“The singer”

I then discovered that the structural integrity of the iPhone is better than I had imagined, outside of the diagonal crack on the screen that formed as a result of the encounter with an immovable object, a.k.a., my wall.

Later in the day we talked. Melrose had actually been on a stakeout across the street from The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham (his clients don’t do sleezy motels) when he heard the news on CNN (the Sirius version). He figured that he’d let me know so that I could write about the passing here.

I explained to him that I have little knowledge of or appreciation for the singer who always struck me as an operatic version of Eddie Money. Given that he’d started out on stage in LA and then New York probably had something to do with that over-emoting. But it certainly worked for the man. (Speaking of working for him, I was surprised to learn that Todd Rundgren produced Bat Out of Hell, but not as puzzled as to learn that Runt also worked on Shaun Cassidy’s Greatest Hits.)

One of the things that strikes me as odd is the moniker that Marvin Lee Aday took for himself. To be sure it is certainly distinctive. Maybe he was a big fan of the combination of ground beef (or turkey for those of you so inclined), breadcrumbs, spices, an egg, and 1/3 cup of ketchup.

I’m sure there is a good reason.

Still, why not something like General Tso Chicken or Steelcut Oatmeal? A question without an answer.

(This leads to a thought about the stage names that some musicians have taken and then abandoned. Take Darius Rucker, for example. Apparently, despite the fact that he was the lead singer, he was not “Hootie” of “& the Blowfish” fame. Apparently early on Rucker saw one of his colleagues and thought his glasses made him look like an owl and another friend with big cheeks, which have rise to the name. He was not Hootie, nor was the band the Blowfish. Still, what do you bet that he was constantly called that after the band broke? And what is the likelihood that he was more than somewhat pleased to have his own name back when the band went on a 10-year hiatus in 2008? Then there was John Mellencamp, whose first record was put out in 1976 under the name “Johnny Cougar” because his manager thought his surname was too tricky. Then it was “John Cougar Mellencamp,” then, finally, in 1991, he probably said “Fuck this” and simply used his actual name. And there was the previously mentioned Edward Mahoney, who became Eddie Money (drop two letters from the surname and you get. . . “honey”).)

Anyway, Meat Loaf (apparently back in 2012 he was referred to as “Mr. Loaf” in The Wall Street Journal, which is still another reason why the AP Stylebook shouldn’t be taken so seriously) died at 74. Eddie Money died at age 70.

And speaking of Eddie Money, one of his 1986 releases, “Take Me Home Tonight,” had a then-uncredited backup of the wonderfully talented Veronica Yvette Greenfield, better known as Ronnie Spector.

(Regardless of what you think of the work of Money, you’ve got to give him huge style points for having her on a record, which had the effect of bringing her to the attention to a whole lot of people who otherwise would have been unaware of the singer.)

She died, age 78, on this past January 12 (and why I didn’t get a text from Melrose about this makes me annoyed about the one I did receive).

Much of the work of The Ronettes had been produced by Phil Spector, who Ronnie was married to for some five years. Phil died on January 16, 2021, age 81.

All of these deaths in January makes me think T.S. Eliot was wrong by a few months.

And somehow Melrose got his way.

RIP all of you.

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