"Paradise by the Dashboard Light" is a song written by Jim Steinman. It was first released in 1977 on the album Bat Out of Hell, with vocals by the American musician Meat Loaf alongside Ellen Foley. It most notable for its unique structure and length, and has become a classic rock radio staple.
This three-part epic opens with part one "Paradise," characters portrayed by Ellen Foley and Meat Loaf are reminiscing about days as a young high school couple on a date. Everything is well, and they are getting along just fine. However, as the song progresses, it's clear that the boy has a bit more on his mind than just holding his girlfriend.
He continues to push the matter, and makes some progress, mirrored by New York Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto broadcasting a portion of a baseball game that serves as a metaphor at his attempts to "steal home base". Things are looking up, and it appears the boy is going to 'score' when suddenly Foley's character bursts to life telling him to "Stop right there!"
Rizzuto's baseball play-by-play call was recorded in 1976 at The Hit Factory in NYC by Rundgren, Meat Loaf and Steinman. As an Italian Catholic, Rizzuto publicly maintained he was unaware that his contribution would be equated with sex in the finished song. However, Meat Loaf asserts that Rizzuto only claimed ignorance to stifle some criticism from a priest and was fully aware of the context of what he was recording.
"Let Me Sleep on It"
The girl refuses to go any further unless the boy promises that he will marry her, love her forever, and stay faithful to her. The boy doesn't want to make the long-term commitment to her there and then (instead, he's thinking of much more short-term issue), and is begging her to continue on for the time being and he'll answer her proposition in the morning. She's not giving into him that easily though, so he cracks and tells her what she wants to hear. ("I couldnt take it any longer/ Lord I was crazed/ And when the feeling came upon me/ Like a tidal wave/ I started swearing to my God and on my mothers grave/ That I would love you to the end of time/ I swore that I would love you to the end of time!")
"Praying for the End of Time"
As the third part begins, things snap back to the present instead of reminiscing the long-ago date. Things aren't what they were; the male protagonist is regretting the promise he made on that night, but not wanting to go back on his vow, he's praying for the end of time to come instead.
Although Ellen Foley is recorded on the album, another woman, Karla DeVito, was used for the music video and for live performances. This would also happen for Meat Loaf's 1993 hit "I'd Do Anything for Love (but I Won't Do That)", where Dana Patrick mimed to Lorraine Crosby's vocals.
The single had limited success in the US, peaking at number 39 in the Billboard Hot 100. However, the song is very well-known and is a classic rock staple, probably because of both Meat Loaf's overall enduring popularity, as well as the fact that his music is more album-oriented than single-oriented. In the UK, it didn't chart at all. However, in the Netherlands, the single became Meat Loaf's biggest all time hit, reaching number one at the end of 1978. "Paradise" became a hit again in 1988 and is still a huge party favorite in The Netherlands. In various all time charts, such as the Radio 2 Top 2000 or Radio Veronica's All Time Top 1000, it consistently charts inside the top ten.
"Paradise" is one of the longest songs to ever be put uncut on one side of a 45 RPM record. The only minor difference is the song fades out almost immediately after the final line is sung.
This has been one of the most requested karaoke songs for a male/female duo.
In a nod to the Yankees/Red Sox baseball rivalry, some radio stations in Boston created a version where Phil Rizzuto's part was substituted with Red Sox announcer Dick Stockton describing the baseball play.
This song has been used by AT&T in commercials for the Go-Phone, in which a father and mother (Meat Loaf and singer Tiffany) argue over buying the son a phone. The commercial uses altered lyrics.
Rob Evan and Patti Russo have performed this song at live shows, and as part of a show called The Rock Tenor.