Reason to Live Was My Reason to Live by Jeff Hassler
Thanks to Colin for letting me contribute to the Kiss Kountdown! I like to think I bring a different sensibility to the conversation. On one hand, I agree with Wal and Ricki C. that Kiss while wearing make-up were just a circus act. As a fan of quality music myself, I too had zero interest in the original line-up. Kids stuff.
But once the group "unmasked" (ha), got rid of all the special effects and replaced Ace Frehley with the completely superior musician Bruce Kulick, KISS finally started making records for grown-ups. While all the non-make up albums are superior to the previous (except for maybe The Elder) I think they hit their high-water mark when the band teamed up with master producer Ron Nevison for the blockbuster CD Crazy Nights. In fact, I would even go so far as to say it's even better than Bon Jovi's classic Slippery When Wet, which came out around the same time. Both went on to be HUGE sellers and influenced millions of people the world over.
What makes Crazy Nights so much better than the early Kiss stuff? Well, in addition to Bruce being a technically superior guitar player to Ace, Nevison finally brought the band into the modern world by adding all kinds of cool synthesizer parts. Kiss records like Rock n Roll Over and Love Gun just sounded so dated by the year 1987. So boring. Nevison was able to bring a modern rock quality to the record, allowing it to be on the cutting edge of the new metal scene that was happening. Digital recording got rid of all that noisy tape hiss, and sampled drums allowed Eric Carr's drumming to finally sound as thunderous as it did live.
For example, Reason to Live was the #1 video on MTV's daily countdown and it featured keyboards for the first time in a Kiss song since Beth. And the lead single, Crazy Crazy Nights, while not a smash in the States, went on to become one of the biggest hits of the decade in the UK. You know, England: home of The Beatles, Stones, The Who, Ozzy, Oasis, Def Leppard, Arcade Fire, Deep Purple.....do I have to go on? My point being that Great Britain knows a thing or two about good rock n roll, if you know what I mean. Let's face it, the USA can be a little off in our taste. I mean can anybody explain why Guns and Roses became huge and Faster Pussycat didn't? Exactly.
Do you know what else Crazy Nights and Slippery When Wet had in common? Desmond Fucking Child! One of rock's greatest songwriters. Ricki claims he has never heard of him and Colin says "Desmond Child is where bad songs go to become even worse," but you cannot argue with his results. The guy is a lyrical genius and he has co-written more hits than any "Hitless Wonder" I know. Sorry, Colin, but you know it's true. Just sayin'.
I have my own story about how the songs of Desmond Child have touched my life. In 1987, I was a senior in high school and I had just met my later ex-wife Kim in French Club. (Looks good for a college resume: French Club that is, not Kim!) I went stag to the Valentine's Day dance and Kim got into a fight with her boyfriend Chase on the way there and ended up coming alone, too. When the DJ played "I'll Die For You" we danced and that became "our song." It was co-written by Desmond Child.
I'd die for you, I'd cry for you, I'd do anything, I'd lie for you, you know its true, baby I'd die for you, I'd cry for you. If it came right down to me and you, you know it's true, I'd die for you.
Hard to top that. Anyway, fast forward a couple of months and Kim and I were still going strong until.... One day she stopped by my parents house with some leftover cookies she had made as part of the dance squad for the lacrosse players. I don't know how to say this exactly, except she surprised me in my bedroom while I was doing a private act adolescent boys are known to engage in. I was listening to the song "Bang, Bang You" on Crazy Nights (also co-written by D. Child.) and didn't hear her knock. To make matters even worse, the school yearbook just happened to be open on the bed next to me turned to the page of the girls tennis team. I SWEAR it was just a coincidence, but when Kim saw the picture of Linda Assario stroking that backhand in her tennis skirt she just went CRAZY, screamed "Chase was right!" then threw the cookies in my face and stormed out of the room in tears.
I was beyond heartbroken. Frankly, I was borderline suicidal. I'm not sure I would have made it if not for this Kiss classic. Ricki C likes to say rock n roll saved his life, well the song "Reason to Live" saved mine. "Reason to Live" was literally was my reason to live. I played it first thing in the morning and the last thing at night for six straight months. I found strength in the words and in the sampled drum sounds. Desmond Child, I am forever in your debt.
"Reason To Live" (Stanley, Child)
Out of love, there's nobody around,
all I hear is the sound of a broken heart
Out of time, no more waitin' for you
Now the hurtin's through, and a new day starts
And I feel a change in my life,
I sailed into dark and endless nights
And made it alive
Everybody's got a reason to live, baby
Everybody's got a dream and a hunger inside
Everybody's got a reason to live, but it can't be your love
Out of touch, with myself for so long,
now a feelin' so strong comin' over me
Down the line, there's a lesson I've learned
You can love and get burned, if it has to be
And I see a change in my life,
and I'm not alone when I'm strong inside
And I realize
Anyway, Kim and I eventually met up again in college and got married and then recently divorced. Thanks for reading my blog. Hassler is out.
Below: 1) The video for the song that saved my life. 2) The best KISS lineup rocking Bang Bang You. LIVE!! It really takes off around 2:40. Trust me, it's worth the wait. 3) Kim and my song. 4) KISS live in a rare daytime concert from Germany on the Crazy Nights Tour. They are so much better without Ace, Peter or any lights or effects. Great set list too! Paul is playing the coolest guitar.
I wonder if Kim still plays this once and a while.