As a child of the sixties, I grew up listening to the music of my parents, which was either easy listening or classic country. As a teenager who came of age in the seventies, I turned to pop and rock. By the latter, however, I really mean soft rock. I was never into hard rock. I cared little for music that was so loud I could not hear the artist(s) singing, even if they were screaming into the microphone.
In my college and seminary days, I briefly got into classical music. After this, I then turned to contemporary Christian music, which I enjoyed for about a decade. Thereafter, I returned to country music. But when the latter evolved into “bro country”, I quickly began to lose interest. Let’s just say that I was not prepared for a combination of “country” and “rap”.
Needless to say, all of this left me in a quandary regarding my musical preferences. As the Bellamy Brothers put it, “He’s an old hippie, and he don’t know what to do. Should he hold on to the old? Should he grab hold of the new?” Eventually, I solved my dilemma by choosing to return to the music of my earlier days. Soon thereafter, I filled my iPod (which I still have and I still use) with playlists reflecting all of the above styles of music.
I share these things, I suppose, due to the announcement of the unexpected death of the artist “Meat Loaf” this past week, and the equally unexpected impact his death had upon me. You see, in our high school years, as my relationship with the young lady who was eventually to become my wife was unfolding, the two of us listened daily to “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”, along with several other of his Billboard Hot 100 hits. (The album containing this one single sold more than 43 million copies and was certified platinum 43 times over, spending nine years on the music charts.)
Of course, in that era, there was no such thing as an internet, let alone a Google search. Thus, although I certainly knew his music, I never knew very much about the artist who sang it all. Little wonder, therefore, that when I heard of his death yesterday at age 74, I started searching to find out more about the man the world knew as “Meat Loaf”.
My search eventually led me to an article by Julius Young titled “How Meat Loaf Got His Nickname: Rock Legend’s Multitude of Explanations”. The article explained how, even as a multi-talented Broadway performer, music crooner (with twelve solo albums), and movie actor (with over 100 credited television and film appearances), who has received a “much-deserved send-off from a who’s who of Hollywood and showbiz”, still “one part of the late … star's life – his nickname Meat Loaf – seemingly remains obscure”.
The article goes on to explain how a certain Marvin Lee Aday, later known as Michael Lee Aday, and eventually as “Meat Loaf”, actually provided a number of different responses for his nickname down through the years.
In 1978, in an interview with People magazine, he stated that his name derived from his being overweight while growing up in Dallas – reportedly weighing 240 pounds at just over 5 feet tall. He later told “The Guardian” in 2003 that "names and ages” ticked him off, adding: “So I just continually lie.”
Then, in 2011, he told Piers Morgan: “When I was a kid I was so big, I mean I was really big, I literally could not wear blue jeans”. He also stated that he ultimately changed his name from Marvin to Michael due in part to a running Levi’s blue jeans commercial at the time that suggested that “Poor fat Marvin can't wear Levi’s”.
Later, in 2016, during a profile for Harpo executive’s “Where Are They Now” series, he told Oprah Winfrey that when he was born, his father said he “looked like nine-and-a-half pounds of ground chuck” before quipping to hospital staff that they needed to place a “Meat” tag on his crib since he had been “born bright red”.
This may well account for the “Meat” portion of his famous moniker. But what about the “Loaf” portion?
Well, according to the late singer, he appears to have obtained it in junior high school. His explanation was that, after he inadvertently stepped on the coach’s foot, the latter called him a “hunk of meatloaf”. From that day forward, it seems, the moniker stuck.
But it was the next statement in the article that really caught my attention. “Regardless of how ‘Meat Loaf’ earned his nickname, one has to be impressed by the manner with which he leaned into it and took ownership of his name – never allowing teasers and the like to dim his light.”
Focus, if you will, on the phrase: “the manner with which he leaned into it and took ownership of his name”. For this is insightful.
According to the New Testament Book of Acts (chapter 11, verse 26): “The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.” As believers worldwide today are known as “Christians”, it is therefore obvious that, from the earliest times, believers “leaned into” and “took ownership” of that name - the name of Christ.
Accordingly, if you are a believer, as I am, then you too have a “moniker”. And that moniker is Christian!
Why do we have this moniker? Because we have been born “again”. And when we were born again, we took on a whole new set of characteristics. Hopefully, therefore, the more we have grown and developed as born again believers, the more we will have displayed certain characteristics. And thus, the more we will have become known and affirmed by our new moniker of “Christian”.
The world little knows the name “Marvin Lee Aday”. But it well knows the name of “Meat Loaf”! Accordingly, as I live out my life in this world, I must continually remind myself that it matters little if the world either knows or acknowledges who I am apart from my identity in Christ Jesus. For it is by that latter identity, and by that one alone, that I was intended (and therefore destined) by my Heavenly Father, ever to be known!
Marvin Lee Aday forsook his given name in favor of a far more valuable one. Surely, any believer who values his or her eternal destiny would do well to do the same. In my case, I certainly have. After all, what is the name of “Christian Eugene “Jack” Jackson III” worth compared to that of simply “Christian”?
Are you a believer? If so, then you too have another name: that of “Christian”. Given this, how will you choose to be known? How will you bear that Holy name? And what will you ultimately do with that esteemed moniker?
NEWS ITEM SOURCE:
https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/how-meat-loaf-nickname-rock-legend. The writer, Julius Young, is an entertainment reporter for Fox News Digital.