What “that” is in “I’d do anything for love (but I won’t do that)”

I was watching the movie “Sausage Party” and at a certain point in the movie they played the song “I’d do anything for love ” by Meat Loaf. I’ve heard the song before but never really dug deeper even though it did peak my curiosity.

Why “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” peaked my curiosity

Concluding from the search results, this song has made other people wonder what the song is about as well, seeing as the singer makes it clear that he will do anything for love, even “run right into hell and back”. If I hear this in the first verse of the song, of course I will wonder what “that”, the one thing he won’t do for love, is.

Researching what “that” in “I’d do anything for love” is

researching-what-that-in-i-would-do-anything-for-love-isTo stop my mind from overthinking and to be sure I had the right answer, I googled the meaning of “that” in the song “I’d do anything for love”. I found an article where Meat Loaf explains his most misunderstood lyric. In this article, Meat Loaf notes that when he spoke to the writer of the song (Jim Steinman) about “that”, he told Jim that people aren’t going to know what “that” is. Jim in return said, “Of course they are. How can they not?”

Well Jim, I don’t !

Anyway, reading further, because I think the interviewer also didn’t know what “that” was, Meat Loaf explains that “that” is the line before every chorus. Obviously, this made me dig a little deeper and look for the lyrics.

The lyrics to “I’d do anything for love” by Meat Loaf                      

So now I looked for the lyrics to the song “I’d do anything for love” and of course, I found them. The next step was looking which line comes before every chorus.

The first one I found was:

But I’ll never forget the way you feel right now,
Oh no, no way
And I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that
No, I won’t do that

If we look at the explanation, he won’t do the last thing before the chorus, which in this case is “I’ll never forget the way you feel right now”. This makes me confused, because that makes the sentence a double negative, which means he says, “I won’t never forget the way you feel right now”. This translates to “I will forget the way you feel right now”.

The next verse is less horrible if you look at the double negative there: “But I won’t never forgive myself if we don’t go all the way, tonight”. This means he’ll forgive himself if they don’t go all the way tonight.

There’s another way of looking at this though. If you ignore the double negative and you scratch one of the negatives, the song is pretty romantic after all.

things-meat-loaf-will-not-do

At the end of the song, on the other hand, I agree with the things he won’t do:

After a while you’ll forget everything
It was a brief interlude and a midsummer night’s fling
And you’ll see that it’s time to move on
I won’t do that

I know the territory, I’ve been around
It’ll all turn to dust and we’ll all fall down
Sooner or later you’ll be screwing around
I won’t do that

If you really love someone, you won’t forget about that person easily, you won’t consider the love a fling and you also won’t move on easily. At the same time you won’t screw around if you were/are really in love…

My conclusion

Of course, there are more verses to the song but I won’t discuss them all. I think the point is clear: this song is controversial. If you look at it from the double negative point of view, the song is not romantic at all. I say this, because where Meat Loaf says that he would do anything for love, there are many things he is not willing to do. Some of the things he – in a double negative way – says he won’t do are things that are a normal part of being in love such as dreaming of the one you love. There are also, as my previous paragraph suggests things that I completely agree with. At the same time, if you scratch the double negative, the song is actually very romantic…

meat-loaf-would-do-anything-for-love-but-he-wont-do-that

But hey, this song is a classic so I won’t judge it too much. I now know what “that” in “I’d do anything for love (but I won’t do that)” is now, so I can peacefully go on with my day.

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