- By Melanie Tolomeo, Staff Writer
“Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night/I can see paradise by the dashboard light” belts Meat Loaf and a soulful choir, harmonizing every note in “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” Surely you know this song, but perhaps have not analyzed it as deeply as I am about to now. Here’s my thesis: The song is not just a karaoke staple; it teaches lessons about life, love and immediate gratification. To refresh your memory, the song goes back-and-forth between the points of view of a high school man and woman that are about to have their first sexual encounter. The woman is enjoying herself but reluctant about sliding “home,” as the baseball metaphor that is mentioned frequently in the song would symbolize. She asks the man if he loves her and be with her forever, and the man is reluctant to answer, with “paradise” just around the bend. Ultimately he says, “Yes,” and vows to a life of misery. From this song, there are two central lessons:
1. Sleep on it
“Let me sleep on it/I’ll give you an answer in the morning” Meat Loaf sings slyly, postponing the answer to his girlfriend’s question to when he can better assess the situation. Taken out of context, this teaches a valuable lesson. For instance, let’s say someone has just returned from an amazing trip abroad to Zimbabwe. He met a woman there and found his passion in Zimbabwean economics. But before putting a down payment on a Zimbabwean house, he should probably prepare a bowl of soup and nap off his jet lag. People tend to assess their wants based on what makes them feel good in that moment. But after a few days, positive feelings often wear-off and plans may become outdated. Don’t make a commitment until after that grace period, because it will often not be something easily reseverable. But if that longing is still there after a few months, I think you should follow that spark because it was not weathered by time or circumstance.
2. You Can’t Do Things Backwards
There is also a lesson to be learned from the female in the song. “Do you love me?/Will you love me forever?/Do you need me? Will you never leave me?” the woman prods. The man is at her mercy, because she is willing to stop the action if she doesn’t get an answer. But pillow talk is cheap. Perspectives can be different between two partners, and what is viewed as an extension of love by one partner (à la the woman in the song) is viewed as just plain sex by another (the man). Sex will not spark love, and the woman in the song seems to be holding sex over the man’s head to secure his love. Likewise, having children won’t secure love. Buying someone things won’t secure love. The only thing that will secure love is love. Just listen to the end of the song, during which they are both miserable, “waiting till the end of time” so they will not be attached anymore. Two 17 year-olds making a decision that affects the rest of their lives based on a distorted view of love, some endorphins and a stiff penis, makes no sense. Let love happen naturally.