So What Exactly Did Meat Loaf Mean When He Sang 'But I Won’t Do That'?

It is one of the most misunderstood lyrics of all time.

The music world is in mourning following the death of legendary rocker Meat Loaf at the age of 74.

In a career spanning six decades, Meat Loaf sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and enjoyed huge success around the world with tracks such as “Dead Ringer For Love,” “Bat Out Of Hell” and “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

The latter earned the singer a Grammy Award for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance and was a massive worldwide hit, hitting the number one spot in 28 countries.

But the lyric – namely the repeated line “I won’t do that” – became one of the most misunderstood in music history.

Meat Loaf in the music video for "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)."
Meat Loaf in the music video for "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)."
YouTube

However, despite the (sometimes wild) theories about exactly what it is he wouldn’t “do,” Meat Loaf explained the lyrics in a 2014 interview.

The musician and actor explained to Yahoo!: “Jim Steinman, who I worked with and had great success with, wrote the song.

“When we were recording it, Jim brings up the thing ― he says, ‘People aren’t gonna know what that is.’ I said, ‘Of course they are. How can they not know?’ He goes, ‘They’re not gonna.’”

So what is “that”?

“It’s the line before every chorus,” the singer explained. “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.’”

Some of the things the song says he won’t do include… forget the way you feel right now; forgive himself if you don’t go all the way tonight; do it better than he does it with you; and stop dreaming of you every night of his life.

This isn’t the first time Meat Loaf had attempted to explain those lyrics, having previously used a blackboard and a pointer during a VH1 Storytellers performance of the song.

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