I spent the last few weeks watching Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels. It brought up a yearning to sit and listen to KISS albums once I finished. It’s a funny path to my love of the band, especially since there isn’t anyone in my family that likes them. I still remember the way said, “KISS!” with a mix of amusement and “WTF!” in his voice when I got my first album. From that point on he was sure I would out grow them, which I never have. I’ve had pauses, but with as much music I have, you have to rediscover artists all the time.
Anyways, I’m getting off track. My path to KISS. I like to say it was a cheery discovery, but I don’t think I would have had the same connection to the band if I did. My whole life was almost constant teasing and bullying outside of my family. Because of it I didn’t really have friends as most people do. They were acquaintances at best, except my best friend, Pat. Now, kindergarden through sixth grade weren’t horrible and I knew kids that would get it worse than me. But something happened come seventh grade and the start of middle school. Everything felt like it got turned up just a notch above unbearable. The teasing, peoples attitude toward me, the imposed isolation. And it got to the point where it just wore down any strength of self I had. I was depressed and at times it felt like I was close to doing something…irreversible, shall we say.
One night, when I couldn’t sleep (which was becoming more common at the time and I know now is common for people with cirrhotic livers, but this was pre-A1AD diagnoses) and my mind was wondering down that road I tried to find something on TV to distract my mind. I came across the KISS Unplugged special on MTV. I got into it fast and it was something that I hadn’t heard much of in rock music at the time.
It was happy. This is ’95-’96. Grunge and alternative were the genre of the day, punk was starting it’s come back. It was getting emo before Emo in the rock charts. So this was something I hadn’t heard in a long time in music and it wasn’t something I was interacting with. And the happiness was infectious. I had seen a number of other Unplugged specials, this was the only one that audience enjoyed it. No canned applause, no “sit and ponder” silence during the song. It was alive (pun not intended)!
And something about all that just made things click in my head. That there was more out there that would make me that happy someday. Since then, KISS has been that band that I can always go to and just be remembered and inspired to go do great things, things that make me happy. ‘Cause in the end, we can only make ourselves happy because we are the only ones that can deny ourselves happiness.