Meat Loaf Explained What ‘That’ Is in ‘I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)’

One of the most famous classic rock songs of the 1990s is Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” Some listeners wondered what Meat Loaf meant when he said “that.” During an interview, the singer discussed the meaning of the song.

Meat Loaf in front of a mirror
Meat Loaf | Sony Music Archive via Getty Images/Terry Lott

Meat Loaf returned to his roots in the 1990s

One of Meat Loaf’s most famous albums is his 1977 debut Bat Out of Hell. The album defined his over-the-top musical style. It also featured some of his most famous songs, including “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”

During the 1990s, there was a wave of 1970s nostalgia. In 1993, Meat Loaf released the sequel album Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell. Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell included one of the most famous power ballads of the decade: “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” The song’s music video was a Gothic extravaganza directed by Michael Bay of Armageddon and Transformers fame.

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Meat Loaf thought the lyrics of ‘I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ were self-explanatory

According to The Independent, Meat Loaf opened up about the song in a 2014 interview with Yahoo! News. He said the track’s writer, Jim Steinman, was worried fans wouldn’t understand what “that” was. “When we were recording it, Jim brings up the thing — he says, ‘People aren’t gonna know what ‘that’ is,'” the singer recalled. “I said, ‘Of course they are. How can they not know?’ He goes, ‘They’re not gonna.'”

Meat Loaf explained what “that” was. “It’s the line before every chorus,” he said.” There’s nine of them, I think. The problem lies because Jimmy likes to write, so you forget what the line was before you get to, ‘I won’t do that.'” In the full 11 minute version of the song, Meat Loaf sings he’d do anything for love besides “lie to you” and stop dreaming of you.”

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The way the world reacted to ‘I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)’

“I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” became a massive hit. It was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks, becoming Meat Loaf’s only chart-topper. It remained on the chart for 22 weeks. “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” appeared on the album Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell. Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 55 weeks.

“I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” was popular in the United Kingdom too. The Official Charts Company reports the song hit No. 1 there for seven weeks. The song spent 21 total weeks on the chart. Meanwhile, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell reached No. 1 in the U.K. and lasted on the chart for 67 weeks. Steinman had reservations about “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” but that didn’t stop it from becoming a hit.

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