Meatloaf (1947-2022) – Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

I had this one in my scheduled folder and heard the news this morning.

I grew up listening to AM radio with my sister and you couldn’t help but hear this song. When I found out he passed away at 74 years old I was saddened because he seemed like such a good guy.

He was a staple of late 1970’s radio. I was not the biggest fan but the guy was different and multitalented. I still watch the The Rocky Horror Picture Show once in a while and he is great in that.

He was born Marvin Lee Aday . There are many stories on how he got his nickname. His football coach, his dad, and one story I found…which I don’t believe goes like this. When he was a child, Aday was messing around with some friends, and he bragged that his head was so thick and strong that a Volkswagen could run over it and he’d be fine. Another kid said no way, that his head would “turn into meatloaf.” Supposedly Aday put his head on the ground and was run over but a volkswagon…and nothing happened.

Meatloaf 2016:  “I was born bright red, so the doctor suggested that they should keep me in the hospital for a few days. My dad actually spoke like this…” “’So, uh, I want you to name my son there ― because he looks like nine-and-a-half pounds of ground chuck ― I want you to put a name tag on the front of that plastic crib and it say ‘Meat’ on it.’”

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad is a good pop song and I still listen to it. Jim Steinman wrote this song after his friend, the actress Mimi Kennedy, suggested that he write a ballad along the lines of the Elvis Presley song “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.” She was implying she was implying he write something simple but Steinman, as his other songs show, didn’t work that way.  This is one of the most straightforward Steinman songs that I know about.

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad was off of the Bat Out OF Hell album and it was huge. The album peaked at #14 in the Billboard Album Charts, #1 in New Zealand, and #9 in the UK in 1977.

The song peaked at #11 in the Billboard 100, #5 in Canada, #9 in New Zealand, and #32 in the UK.

Todd Rundgren produced the album. On this song, he used the other three members of his band Utopia: Kasim Sulton on bass, Willie Wilcox on drums, and Roger Powell on synthesizer. Rundgren played guitar and also sang backup on this song.

I found a story a few years ago about where he was when JFK was assisinated. He was at Parkland Hospital when JFK arrived. I have the video down below of him telling the story…listen if you have time…it’s very interesting.

From Songfacts

“Two out of three ain’t bad” is a trite cliché often used for comic effect. (“How was your date?” “He was tall, handsome, and incredibly boring.” “Well, two out of three ain’t bad.)

Jim Steinman, who was Meat Loaf’s songwriter, turned the saying into a song about the elusive nature of love. The song begins with Meat Loaf getting kicked to the curb by his girl, presumably because he won’t tell her he loves her. He makes the case that even though he will never love her, he’s good enough, since after all he does want her and need her, and happy endings are only for fairy tales.

We then learn that his commitment issues step from a previous relationship – one with the only woman he will ever love. She once left him with the same explanation: I want you, I need you, but I’ll never love you.

In America, this was the second single released from the Bat Out Of Hell album. The first single, “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth,” didn’t chart, but by the time “Two Out of Three” was issued in March 1978, the album was picking up steam and the song rose up the charts, peaking at #11 on July 8.

The single was edited down to 3:58 from the 5:23 album version.

This song got a big boost when Meat Loaf performed it on Saturday Night Live on March 25, 1978.

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

Baby we can talk all night
But that ain’t getting us nowhere
I told you everything I possibly can
There’s nothing left inside of here

And maybe you can cry all night
But that’ll never change the way that I feel
The snow is really piling up outside
I wish you wouldn’t make me leave here

I poured it on and I poured it out
I tried to show you just how much I care
I’m tired of words and I’m too hoarse to shout
But you’ve been cold to me so long
I’m crying icicles instead of tears

And all I can do is keep on telling you
I want you
I need you
But there ain’t no way
I’m ever gonna love you
Now don’t be sad
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad
Now don’t be sad
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad

You’ll never find your gold on a sandy beach
You’ll never drill for oil on a city street
I know you’re looking for a ruby
In a mountain of rocks
But there ain’t no Coupe de Ville hiding
At the bottom of a Cracker Jack box

I can’t lie
I can’t tell you that I’m something I’m not
No matter how I try
I’ll never be able to give you something
Something that I just haven’t got

There’s only one girl that I have ever loved
And that was so many years ago
And though I know I’ll never get her out of my heart
She never loved me back, ooh I know
I remember how she left me on a stormy night
She kissed me and got out of our bed
And though I pleaded and I begged her
Not to walk out that door
She packed her bags and turned right away

And she kept on telling me
She kept on telling me
She kept on telling me
I want you
I need you
But there ain’t no way
I’m ever gonna love you
Now don’t be sad
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad
I want you
I need you
But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you
Now don’t be sad
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad
Don’t be sad
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad

Baby we can talk all night
But that ain’t getting us nowhere

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

50 thoughts on “Meatloaf (1947-2022) – Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”

      1. I agree that it is overloaded and that excess was a feature characteristic of Jim Steinman’s work…and I think it’s a good thing, at least with this particular album. It’s a melodramatic rock score. I think it’s great.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m feeling this loss a lot. I grew up with my parents playing the Bat Out of Hell album, and there’s not a bad song on it. Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad is great, and Paradise by the Dashboard Light is a masterpiece of rock opera. I saw him live 15 years or so ago, and he was clearly past his prime but still put on a great show. He knew that rock n roll wasn’t ever supposed to be serious, that it was about having fun, something that people forget too often…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh wow…you are the first person I’ve talked to who saw him…I’m sure he had a great band…the musicianship to his stuff was always top notch…many times over the top…but that was him.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. RIP Marvin Lee. It was first thing I heard upon turning on the car radio this morning, quite a shock although I guess it shouldn’t be, he was 74 and clearly overweight and not in great health for years. I really love this song… I grew up with Bat out of Hell, both being played to death by my brother, and then soon I got a copy from Columbia House. Over the years, I’d say it has begun to grow – dated – sounding, but this song holds up well. Strangely, I did not like the sequel album, but it did really well for him… I think I was the right age for the first one to seem really “cool.”
    He was a theatrical performer, so his collaboration with Steinman really worked, since he was big, theatrical, almost operatic in his writing. Hope they’re hanging out together having fun now in the Great Beyond.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You nailed it… theatrical…its kinda of parallel to the other post i have today…not the same kind of music at all but…I never listened to him every day but I do like to hear him some…he was part of my childhod….
      He did lose some weight through the years. …yea he had some odd disease and he couldn’t remain on stage a long time.

      He was over the top…and when you know that going in…I enjoyed some of his music. This one is a great pop song any way you slice it.

      He was a decent actor also…. Yep him and Steinman went together perfectly…hope they are hanging out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Same here. We just watched as a family the official video of ‘I’d do anything for love’. I hadn’t seen it since soon after it came out. It’s like a Rock-opera of him as the Beast. I’m sure you are familiar with it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. So sorry to hear of his passing. Funny what his dad said. Talking about setting a tone in an infant’s life! He was awesome with this song. I also love him in “The Rock Horror Picture Show.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read about this, this morning. He remarked that he saw Jackie Kennedy, leaving the car, covered in blood. That must have been horrifying.

    Seventy-four isn’t a bad age to go at. The national average is 78…Ken’s age. And, we lost Jim Steinman back in April. I thought Meatloaf was great and I loved Jim Steinman. I bought Rock & Roll Dreams Come True on 45 and, of course, I loved Streets of Fire.

    What terrible losses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I liked him a lot in the Rocky Horror Picture Show… I could take him in doses…part of his charm was going over the top so I have to respect that

      Like

      1. A really good theater that I think would be cool for that movie is the Alamo Drafthouse in Texas. There are several of them and I went to one in North Austin. The seats have tables and, you can eat & drink beer.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I would LOVE that. I went to one in Franklin TN that had tables and beer….I drank beer while watching Yellow Submarine back in 1989. I went to it again in 2015 and watched The Shining.
        EVERY theater should be like that.

        Like

      3. Sorry scratch that….7 years younger than my MOM….9 years younger than my dad…sorry got them mixed up

        Like

  5. It’s sad Meat Loaf passed away at such an untimely age. He had health issues for many years, especially with his back, but I recall reading some time last year he was working on new stuff. Earlier this evening, I saw a TMZ piece saying he had COVID. Officially, they didn’t announce the cause of his death.

    While Meat Loaf’s music was completely overproduced and as such over the top, I liked a number of his songs. I featured “Bat Out of Hell,” which is a beast of a rock song, in one of my Sunday Six installments in December. I also like “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”, “Dead Ringer For Love”, “Rock & Roll Dreams Come True” and “Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”.

    I feel similar to some Queen and ELO songs, Meat Loaf’s music was completely overproduced, but at the same time, he had some catchy songs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Queen and ELO are in that direction. I do like some of his songs. I can’t listen every day but I do like a lot of them. He was part of my childhood growing up so yea…
      So many are leaving now it seems like.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have very similar feelings about it. I definitely recall hearing Meat Loaf’s songs on the radio back in Germany. That’s where I also saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and more than once.

        In fact, one of the occasions was in an indepedent movie theater. People had brought certain items like toast and water. When at some point during the film the word “toast” came up, people were literally throwing slices of toast. Or in the beginning of the movie when it was raining, they started to splash water.

        It all felt a bit like a cult event, but it was certainly memorable!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes it was a big interaction between the crowd and the movie. I remember hot dogs being thrown at the screen during parts.
        It was a lot of fun the times I went to see it. I never encountered anything like that before.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. It was cool to see him bounce back in 94 with the followup to the Bat album. That put him back in the public eye again as he was all over video and radio again. Great marketing as well…
    RIP

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Meat Loaf and Steinman were a perfect patnership for OTT rock opera tongue in cheek 50s pastiche blown to the max, and bat out of hell was a monster in every sense. Has there been anything more manic OTT than meat and Cher on Deadringer For Love? Bat Out Of Hell probably. Excess was the whole point. I saw the Musical a few years back and it so makes sense in that setting. No one can top Meat Loaf but the Steinman material is so strong it works as a show, much like Rocky Horror was a set up inspiration for both Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do like a lot of his music. When you know it’s over the top while going in… it helps. I’ve always thought Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad was the most straightforward song the pair ever released.

      Liked by 1 person

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