Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: KISS (page 1 of 2)

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Be A Different Song

Enthusiasts, I was vague in my wording, which is a sin. Language was stolen for us by Prometheus and eleven of his wacky buddies from a Las Vegas casino; for this, they were chained to boulders for eternity and eagles randomly came by to eat their nipples. That you didn’t know when the eagles were coming back was the worst torture: if eagle-time were always noon, then at least you could steal yourself for the de-nippling.

What are you talking about?

Gods and legends. Like always.

Someone should eat your nipples.

Go away, I’m talking to the Enthusiasts.

They should have their nipples eaten, too.


They know what they did.

Regardless, I’m actually interacting with the nice people for once instead of ignoring emails and making fun of the Comment Section.

How so?

I asked them to name the BEST EVAR song whose title was a woman’s name.


I was going to ask about the BEST EVAR man’s name song.

Suuuuuuure you were.



Anyway, millions of Enthusiasts wrote in with their picks, but like I said at first: I was unspecific in my request. What’s the point of Rock Nerd lists and bullshit unless it’s picky and arbitrary? There’s no fun in arguing about something as nebulous as “Best Song,” but “Best Song by a Band with a Really Short Drummer?” That’s a serious Rock Nerd party right there, my friend.

So: we reduce the entrant pool by upping the requirements. We look for not just the Best Song containing a Woman’s Name in the Title, but Best Song in which the Woman’s Name is the Whole Title.

This means My Sharona is out (not that anyone voted for it) and so is Polk Salad Annie and Ruby, Don’t you Take your Love to Town. Sheena is a Punk Rocker is also, sadly, disqualified.

But The Ramones still make the list:

An underappreciated classic from their most-appreciated album. Of note: Joey managing to rhyme “Ramona” with “come over,” and declaring that the titular Ramona was, in fact, a spy for the BBI. What is the BBI, you ask? Excellent question. You should ask Joey.

Also of note: the intralyrical band member shout-out. This is an extraordinarily rare Rock Move, but when performed well, it wows the judges. Examples can be found at the end of Surrender by Cheap Trick and in the bridge of Girls, Girls, Girls by the Crue.

Next up is something by the Allman Brothers:

Nah, I’m fucking with you. This is what Hakim Bey would call a TAFZ (Temporary Allman-Free Zone).

What is it with you and the Allmans?

If they wanted me to like them, then they shouldn’t have talked so much shit about the Dead.

You pick a side and stick with it, huh?

I’m loyal.

Talk about Dolly Parton.

If you don’t like Dolly Parton, then you’re wrong.

Anything else?


You’re the greatest undiscovered literary talent in America.

Why, thank you.

Just continue.


The keen-eyed will notice that this song’s title is actually Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), and therefore not eligible. The keen-eyed should remember what I like to do to people’s eyes in the stories I write. Bruce gets a pass because he is Bruce.

Could’ve gone with Rosalita.

Rosalita doesn’t have the line about Madame Marie in it. Therefore, Sandy is better than Rosalita.


Did you just slap me? How is that even possible?

Don’t worry about it.


Go on with your list and know that I’m watching you, buster.


Bunch of you chose Gloria, but you all chose the wrong one and should be ashamed of yourselves. I advise you begin drinking heavily. Sure, Rock Nerds are supposed to worship Van Morrison and Patti Smith, but I like brunettes with unruly eyebrows and growly voices in spangled jumpsuits. Plus, the synth riff is killer.

I’ve posted this before; I don’t care: I’ll post it every day until I die. Little Richard on all the cocaine in the entire world.

Jesus, my gums are getting numb watching him.

If you rub your dick on the screen, you’ll be able to fuck all night.



You’re vulgar.

Violent is worse than vulgar!

Also more persuasive. Stop being coarse.

Here’s something wholesome:

Shortly after this performance Buddy Holly’s plane would be shot from the sky by a rocket launcher-wielding Don MacLean.

And there’s Lorelei by the Pogues, and Angie by the Stones and Victoria and Lola by The Kinks and that one from Rod Stewart that was kind of about him being molested. The Band did Ophelia AND Caledonia AND Evangeline, because it’s more fun to write about people with interesting names; Beatles had Michelle and Eleanor Rigby and Elvis Costello wrote Alison and Veronica.

But I like this one:



It’s an exciting tune. I got aroused.




You had to know that was coming.

I think I’m into it now.


And Levi Stubbs was Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, so this wins.


Yup, it’s the love ballad sung by a grown man in a kitty suit.

Listen to it! It’s one of the prettier rock ballads ever written, plus no member of KISS besides Peter Criss appears on the track, which makes it by default better than the songs the band members played on.

Okay, I’m done.

That’s how you wrap it up for the nice people?

Yeah, fuck ’em.

Okay, yeah.

Barely Keeping It Together

Why are you the way you are?

I have no idea what you might mean.

It’s 3:16 am, and you’re paging through scans of 70’s rock magazines and listening to KISS.

If it makes you feel better, I am ashamed of myself.

It doesn’t. Why aren’t you writing a Little Aleppo story?

Because they take a couple days to write, and I don’t want to start one because I’m most likely going to die on the table Wednesday morning.

It’s an endoscopy.


Stop that.

Death is certain.

Eventually, sure. Not Wednesday.

You promise?

I really do.

Still not starting anything. That’s bad luck.

I actually agree with that.

I thought you said I wasn’t going to die.

One out of 100,000 die under general anesthesia, and they’re usually old and sick. Far more dangerous to drive to the hospital.


Never set God up for a joke.

This was my point the entire time.

Hit Top Speed But I’m Still Moving Much Too Slow

Suck my balls, Creem Magazine, and bring the MC5 with you; call up Seger and Iggy, and round up Motown. Alice Cooper, too, and Eminem and all those damn authentic rock and roll critics.  LET THEM ALL SLURP MY TESTICLES.

This is the best song about Detroit.

(Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the Comment Section.)

Good Night, KISS

This is from–

No. Stop.

–the solo albums that–

Shut the fuck up.

–KISS released…excuse me?

We’re not doing Thoughts on the KISS. We did that already, and people tolerated it. At best. Tolerance was the most positive reaction to TotK.

It was better than the response to Thoughts on the Rolling Stones.

Yeah. People got angry about that one.

Deservedly. I think the Enthusiasts could tell I was doing it deliberately to annoy them.

Probably because you told them you were.

Sure. But that’s not what this is. I just love this song: it might be the best song KISS ever, even though KISS did not write it or play on it.

You think those two things have anything to do with one another?


I’ll allow this, but it stops here.

For the best. Can I just tell the Enthusiasts that–even if they despise KISS–this one’s worth checking out just for long-time Letterman drummer and NY session legend Anton Fig?



Well, Punk: Do Ya?

Valued Commentator Smokingleather has asked a good question: what if one liked the crap that Ace Frehley was peddling in the commercial from the previous post?

And the answer is this: feel no shame, for this is my honest-to-God favorite version of this song. I know ELO did it, and that all Rock Nerds are supposed to worship Jeff Lynne and his Beatles-worship, but he and that BRUCE! guy he was always singing about can go shop for sunglasses. I’ll take the Space Ace.

There is never shame in liking crap as long as one recognizes that it is crap. Otherwise, you’re Chuck Klosterman.


No matter what the Dead (Or What’s Left Of ‘Em) do, or how they behave, or who they let in the band…

…it could always be worse.

Another Case Of Disaster Narrowly Averted


All of you, every single one of you, need to thank the great and tall and dignified Chris Jennings (whose award-winning* book Paradise Now can be purchased via clicking the link in the sidebar) for talking me out of buying this. I would have inflicted it on you; it would have been days out of all of our busy schedules.

And it’s not a short book, either: it’s the same length as Chris’ book, which covers hundreds of years and hops from the Old World to the New. Destroyer has nine songs on it, and only five or six are any good. One of the tunes is called Great Expectations, and it is about Great Expectations. It’s the best record KISS ever made, and you can take that statement exactly how I meant it.

So: thank Chris.

Also: look at those hands. Very powerful. Large. Not small.

*Chris Jennings has won the prestigious Best Writer in the Entire World Award in a ceremony held in my kitchen a week or so ago.



Is there a difference between Cold Gin, which was written by a man who didn’t like gin (at any temperature) and sung by a famous teetotaler, and Picasso Moon, which was written by a guy who guest-starred on a couple of Star Trek episodes and sung by Bobby? KISS was at least honest about their songs simply being cool-sounding word salad; Bobby, however, was convinced that he was being deep with that “fractal flame” hoo-ha.


Sometime in late 1972, Bobby picked up an issue of the Village Voice. Turning to the classifieds in search of a second-hand moped and lightly-owned sexual devices, he read an ad seeking a guitarist with flash and balls.

No, he did not. Bobby did not join KISS. Stop it.

After Peter Criss left the band in 1980, Billy showed up at the audition with a giant fist painted on his face; he proceeded to headbutt dicks all afternoon while crowing proudly, “This counts!”

That didn’t. It no. Bad you.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not actually listening to KISS. I wouldn’t do that to myself. I’ve been playing Alive! at the gymnasium and last week I went through the four or decent albums, but it’s passed and I won’t have to actually listen to them again for a year or so. The Dead’s back on: the Spring ’90 Box, to be precise.

Luckily, it is okay for an Enthusiast to mock KISS and everything it stands for. The merchandising, the T-Shirts, the image remaining in amber while the persona curdled around the humans involved. All the limited releases, and re-issues. The fetishization of pieces of clothing, bits of gear, instruments. No matter who’s singing the high harmony parts. Dogged defender-ism of even the shittiest of years and tours and lineups (in public, at least.) The endless reunions and semi-reunions and farewell shows and you need a scorecard to tell the players.

Lovers of the Grateful Dead would never put up with such nonsense, never stand for such a thing: we’re sophisticated, you see.


Not to belabor a point, but the bit from Ace’s book about Paul drawing dicks in business meetings is a life-changer. I cannot overstate how fond I am of this spiteful little detail.

Picture it: you’re an accountant or an intern or something, trying to have a human business meeting and across the table is this guy…


…and that’s the face he’s making at you. I’m not going to go on a length about this, but even before the surgeries started, Paul only had five or six facial expressions and the one above is “I believe you were speaking about me?”

So, Paul is making that face at you and being serious and discussing the numbers and not being insane and you look at the legal pad in front of him, and it’s wall-to-wall dicks. A garden of doodled, veiny, bic-pen blue dicks. And it’s only ten minutes into the meeting and you’ve been watching him drink his coffee for five of those minutes, so when was there even time to draw all those dicks? How fucking fast can Paul Stanley doodle dicks? And he doesn;t have, like, a stock dick: there’s big and small and cut and uncut; some of them plump in the middle.

What I’m saying is: thought went into every dick and there’s too many of them so: holy shit, did Paul fucking Stanley BRING a legal pad full of dicks he’s drawn with him to the meeting? On second glance, there have been at least three pens used and–the breeze just ruffled the pages of his pad and fuck me, it’s dicks all the way down. That’s his dick pad: Paul Stanley has a dick pad and he brought it the business meeting to look like a business person.

And now, of course, you have absolutely no idea what’s going on in the meeting: it’s just people blathering about revenue streams and tour dates and the costs of stage blood nowadays, but all you can think about is Paul’s dick pad and the quotidian nature of it: has Paul ever forgotten it? In the car on the way to the meeting, he realizes it’s not there. Does he turn around?

“Whew, glad I noticed. Couldn’t have a meeting without my legal pad full of dick doodles!”

So you realize that you;ve been staring for a while, and you look up and see Paul staring into your soul and his face splits down the middle and the sound of the Abandoned Gods returning howls through his skull.

It wasn’t a dick pad: it was a trap.

You need a hug?

I do, yes. I do need a hug.

Now You Have To Look At This

bobby KISS thigh

I just made you look at that.

Hey. Hey. Hey. How’s things, champ?

Little weird right now.


So, the 3,000 words on the 70’s silly-rock band wasn’t enough? You still got more in you?

Help me.

I don’t even want to look at you right now.

I’m enjoying the KISS-related farce.

You, either.


A few last thoughts about KISS:

  • One of their books (Ace, I think) accuses Paul of dressing up in a suit and tie and trying to act all professional in business meetings, but quickly getting bored and doodling large, veiny dicks all over his note pad. This would happen, Ace wrote, at every single meeting for years and years. That fact makes me so happy, I couldn’t give a single shit whether or not it’s true.
  • And Gene would also be in a suit and have a briefcase with just crackers in it. And Ace would sit there with a tall boy, and he  was the asshole?
  • The Dead also released solo albums on the same day, except it was the Dead, so instead of the same day, it was over the course of a few years, plus some of the albums never got released, and Phil forgot to make his.
  • Having read all four of the original members’ autobiographies (there will almost definitely not be a Bruce Kulick book), and ones from the former manager, and tour manager, and accountant, and the recent authorized oral history, I can confirm very few things. Here are some: Gene absolutely refused to get naked in front of everyone else, Ace banged several (at least) dudes, Peter was the weak link in every way available to him, and Paul will cut a bitch.
  • Seriously: Paul’s the bad guy. Gene is Donald Trump; Paul is the human-trafficking/arms-dealing billionaire whose name you wouldn’t recognize. Gene is Darth Vader; Paul is the Emperor.
  • The Sex Pistols closed out 1977 at Winterland. KISS had played there the previous December. Politics and importance, maaaan, aside: only one of the bands were actually entertaining.
  • Also from Ace’s book, his thoughts on John Belushi  “We were both famous, and we both loved music and comedy, and we both enjoyed getting fucked up.” Then Ace is summoned to a Blue Brothers concert to give Belushi a pep talk in an anecdote that almost certainly did not actually take place.
  • The Dead often hired ne’er-do-well family members, obvious hucksters, and Hamburglars to manage their finances, but KISS once signed on with Paul’s former psychiatrist, who in short order: fucked up the books, stole all the money, faked his own death, and became an international fugitive. That is high-level rock star crazy bullshit right there.
  • Peter has an enormous penis, about which there are many stories; he will share them all with you, if you like.
  • One of the two of us has seen pretty much every episode of Gene Simmons Family Jewels. Is it you? No? Oh, right: it’s me.
  • Credit the Dead with professionalism: for all the felonies and capers, none of them was ever so regularly tardy that a backup musician in a costume had to be employed as an emergency measure. KISS had to–on numerous occasions–grab a drum tech and dress him up like a clown/kitten because one of the intolerable ones  had missed seven planes in a row again.
  • Ace and Peter were the intolerable ones; Gene and Paul were the unbearable ones.
  • One time–and this is something being kept from you by not only Big Dead, but by Big KISS as well–Gene and Paul explored the possibility of writing with Hunter. They weren’t Hunter’s thing, as you might guess, but he was reading a lot of Buddhist stuff and was doing the whole openness deal and–hey, whatever you thought of their music, they were selling a lot of records lately and a couple bucks could never hurt, so when they called, Hunter picked up the phone. He asked Gene and Paul whether they had any ideas for lyrics, or a theme. They said, “The song should be about pussy,” and Hunter pretended that there was a bad connection, but there wasn’t, and he hung up the phone.
  • There has been, and quite possibly will never be, a full recounting on what’s going on with Gene’s head. Lately, he’s been pretending to have a sense of humor about it, but he has absolutely no sense of humor about it whatsoever.
  • Out of the four of them, Ace seems like the only one it might be at all pleasant to spend an afternoon with, as long as you had your own ride or cab fare or nowhere to go. And Ace wasn’t waving his guns around. (Ace would assuredly be waving his guns around.)
  • Ace and Peter deserved to get thrown out of not just the band, but maybe even the country: their behavior was so fucked-up that they should have been stripped of the citizenship and forcibly expatriated. Showing up reasonably on time, reasonably sober is doable. It’s doable.
  • Bobby could do a real nice acoustic Hard Luck Woman.
  • KISS could maybe handle Bertha, but that was pushing it.
  • Their road crews were both equally large and psychotic and feared and well-practiced at violence: a clash would have pitted city boys vs. country boys and would have been instigated by Billy.
  • Speaking of Billy, we’re talking about a man who, during every full moon in 1981 and half of ’82, would dress up like a werewolf and run around biting the shit out of people. He would break the skin; it was awful, and yet when the bus left the hotel at one o’clock, Billy was on it. That’s the thing Ace and Peter couldn’t handle. Not even on their own: there were people who got paid to lead them from place to place, and they still couldn’t show up anywhere vaguely on time. That takes doing: Ace and Peter were more dedicated to being bad at their jobs than most people are at being good at theirs.
  • Paul takes up painting to help him get through a divorce because of course he does.
  • Any second now, an art dealer is going to realize that Gene’s collection of Polaroids is as valid as cultural history of the times as anything else and it’s going to be unbearable.
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