To my reading, among Steinman fans, there are really two standout songs on this album: the titular “Dead Ringer for Love” and this one, and I agree on both counts. Both are very clearly Steinman works but neither is really the kind of soaring ballad he’s best known for. And while “Dead Ringer for Love” has had further life in the Steinman-verse, “I’m Gonna Love Her for Both of Us” has basically remained just this first recording, which makes it stand out as a special entry on the Dead Ringer album.
This song has an odd premise that I suspect is meant as some sort of nod to or celebration of the sexual liberation of the late ’60s and ’70s that Steinman had been a part of not just with his own musical ending with an amount of nudity that led to arrests but also with writing the songs for the musical More than You Deserve (the plot of which reads to me like some sort of strange male fantasy of female sexual liberation): The singer is friends with someone who mistreats his girlfriend in nonspecific ways and so the singer proposes “If you give me your girl/And then you give me your trust/And you give me ’til the end of the night/I’m gonna love her for both of us.” He argues that since his friend doesn’t appreciate her and he can “[hear] her crying out to be saved,” everyone will be better off and it would only take the one night to prove it to everyone. He doesn’t seem to be asking for a threesome, saying in the bridge, “I never wanted to take away your lover/Until I heard her crying out to be saved,” but rather arguing for his friend to give him a chance to steal his girlfriend.
However, I don’t think he’s actually talking to the friend so much as expressing that it’s how he feels. He sees his friend’s girlfriend is so great and so fantasizes about her that he feels like making this offer to his friend. His comparison of her to being “like a dreamer in a dungeon or an angel in a cave” feels like his projection on her–I want her to feel like she’s trapped, so she must feel that way. I think this song is more like his fantasy than a serious proposal.
I’ve never been able to pull any deeper meaning out of it, but the lyrics are, even by Steinman standards, filled with religious imagery. He claims that he will “Let her shine like a jewel in the crown of the holy sun” and that his friend is unworthy because “your holiness was never so pure.” The chorus proclaims “You turned her into a ghost/But she’ll be burning when the night is done.” The conflation of religious worship with sexuality was a relatively common trope of the early ’70s (for another example, albeit one that in the end seems to suggest something very different about the interplay between religion and sexuality, see the Peter Shaffer play Equus) and Steinman is often at least tiptoeing near it, but I’m not sure this song has something to say about that so much as it’s just using the religious imagery to convey importance connected to the sexual themes. It might be again saying that sex is its own paradise apart from religion, but it’s definitely less clear about its point than other Steinman songs.
Musically, we open with a deep bass piano hook that will (in a higher key) serve as the basis for the chorus. Then we get some heavily affected but not very distorted power chords and the drums. The verses have a back-and-forth between the guitar and piano with both playing chords and then taking turns going on fill flights around the vocals while the drums and bass keep the rhythm the same throughout. The chorus then explodes, with everything playing the rhythm line together as Meat Loaf shouts “But if you give me your girl/And you give me your trust/And you give me ’til the end of the night” before the title goes along with the piano returning to its opening hook, the rhythm section joining it, and the guitar really takes the lead through the rest of the chorus. It’s really a more traditionally “rock” song than most Steinman works, because the piano helps provide structure but the guitar is really the “lead” instrument. And I think that’s part of why this song works–it’s not quite as much an attempt to copy Bat out of Hell as much as it’s a new variation on a similar sound.
While a few tracks here will show Meat Loaf’s voice being pretty severely damaged, this song is one of the two on the album where he actually sounds like his full-throated 1977 self. It doesn’t showcase much range (and Meat Loaf, by pop singer standards, didn’t have much to show), but the lung power, control of volume dynamics, and emotive delivery that made him such a great partner for Steinman on Bat out of Hell is largely back on display here. I don’t know why he sounds so much better here, but he definitely does.
The first time I ever listened to the Dead Ringer album, I remember at this point thinking, “People are out of their minds dismissing this thing! Even if it’s not Bat out of Hell, this is fantastic!” but it turned out that this is the high point of the album. There are other good songs left, but it’s definitely inconsistent from this point on. It’s a shame that “I’m Gonna Love Her for Both of Us” didn’t get more attention over time, because it’s really a great piano-led rock song.
- I mention the guitar effect because it’s a bit of an odd guitar sound that is present on both this album and Bad for Good but isn’t terribly common–the guitar seems to have a chorus effect on it with just light distortion, which makes for a sound that is somewhere in between the lush volume of heavily distorted power chords and the rhythmic choppiness of clean ones. There are not a ton of other examples I can think of with a similar effect and most of them that I can are from the new wave genre right around this time, so it feels like a very time-bound guitar sound.
- In the Classic Albums episode on Bat out of Hell, Todd Rundgren comments that he couldn’t imagine Jim Steinman parking by the lake with the prettiest girl in school, saying, “I could see him imagining it, but not doing it.” I think part of why his music resonates with me is that so much of it, including this song, has this feel of a nerd making fun of the masculine teenaged fantasy of rock and roll in part because he is excluded from it. I have spent a lot of my life feeling like the protagonist of Tim Minchin’s song “Rock and Roll Nerd,” and many Steinman songs seem to reflect a similar connection to rock and roll.
- Something sounds very strange about the piano in the opening that I don’t understand. I don’t know much about piano, but I feel like I have heard bass-level piano notes otherwise that don’t remind me of that sound.
- There was a great recent L.A. Times article about Warren Zevon where Billy Joel comments that “Piano is really a percussion instrument. People think it’s a stringed instrument, but you play it like a drum.” This song is such a good place to hear what he’s talking about, because it’s not a honky-tonk rhythm or any such but just banged-out chords throughout almost the entire song, and those chords really provide more of the rhythm than the bass and drums do.
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