Crowd of Full Pockets

Movie and Music Analysis from One Lacking Any Credentials to Provide It

“More than You Deserve” by Meat Loaf

The musical More than You Deserve is largely forgotten in history except for one thing: it’s where Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman met. I’ve read through the script and am really not interested in hearing/seeing it. Michael Weller wrote the book, Jim Steinman wrote the music, and they co-wrote the lyrics. Meat Loaf would regularly say in later years that while he’d gotten good receptions for performances before, nothing came close to what he got when he first performed the title song, and so the partnership began. So, Steinman provided a new version of the song for Dead Ringer. I honestly have never read something that explains how new this version was, but since the lyrics are really referencing the plot of the play pretty directly, I’m guessing that it’s small.

The song opens with a soft piano-and-strings motif that sets an airy, surprisingly upbeat mood. The piano (by Nicky Hopkins, not Roy Bittan this time) serves as the beat while the very soft strings are the more melodic component, though they are actually so quiet that they are easily lost even without much else happening. Meat Loaf’s vocals join in and the strings quiet down even more through the first verse, then gain some volume as soft percussion joins in the chorus. Mick Ronson (Yes, that Mick Ronson–the guest appearances on this album are pretty damn impressive for how much of a failure it ended up. Ronson would play one of the most recognizable guitar parts of the decade a year later for John Mellencamp, but here he is. He also produced Ellen Foley’s debut album a couple of years before, so he was already at least somewhat connected to the Meat Loaf-Steinman universe.) throws in a reasonable guitar solo with some tasteful extra leads after, but the only other real growth to the sound is some choral backing vocals. It’s a relatively small sound, one that perhaps betrays the song’s origin as a live musical number. And the music is fine. It’s not terribly memorable and sounds really of a piece with ’70s soft rock, but it’s not bad.

However, what really stands out about this song is not a positive, and that’s Meat Loaf’s voice. He attempts the softer delivery of “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad,” but, especially in his higher registers, it comes across more as strained. When he gets more bombastic at the end, he does sound better, but it’s still clear that his voice is not in the condition it was on Bat out of Hell. Rolling Stone famously described his vocals on this album as “alarmingly awful,” and that’s an exaggeration, but I think this song is one of the performances that gave rise to that criticism.

In a rare moment for a Steinman song, the lyrics are just not noteworthy. They’re a bit strange in isolation, because the chorus moves from “then I saw you making love to my best friend” to “Then I saw you making love to two of my best friends” to “then I saw you making love to a group of my best friends” instead of focusing on one trauma. The chorus also includes him saying to every participant above “Won’t you take some more it’s what you came for/And don’t mind me I won’t throw you no curves/Have yourself a ball with my good woman/Won’t you take some more, boy, it’s more than you deserve” even though the last verse says, “Now I think I’m gonna have to leave you/Because I’m feeling too weak to share/And the pie, oh, it’s cut in too many pieces/The flavor that I crave is no longer there.” In context, that does all make sense, but it’s really just stating the situation that he is in–an impotent man in love with a nymphomaniac. The emotions he feels could be made more universal (“I’m in love with a girl I’m not good enough for so I have to live with things I don’t want to live with.”), but it just doesn’t happen here. It’s almost like the weak cousin to “Left in the Dark,” but all of the emotional complexity that makes “Left in the Dark” so brilliant is just missing.

All told, “More than You Deserve” is a slight song that, while the melody is pretty enough, just doesn’t really have anything interesting to say or do. Meat Loaf in 1981 also couldn’t sing it, which makes the recording even weaker than it could have been. There were good elements that Steinman would recycle, but they aren’t enough to save this recording.






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