February 17, 2005

The Pretty Toney Column

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Presuming I’m not dead already, it will be interesting to see how Kiss is remembered 50 years from now. I can’t imagine they’ll be forgotten, if for no reason other than that the flea markets of the future will almost certainly be overflowing with loads of Kiss Krap. But will anyone remember their music? There’s a fair chance that “Rock and Roll All Nite” will still be around, but my guess is that, because the song’s sentiment is so anonymous, no one will actually know the name of the band that composed it. Maybe “Detroit Rock City” will enjoy a brief comeback if the Lions ever win the Super Bowl, but that’s not happening any time soon. If it were up to me, however, Kiss would be remembered not as the four extremely ugly men who, through the magic of make-up, managed to become the objects of millions of women’s desires, but as the band that recorded the acoustic masterpiece known as “Hard Luck Woman.”

One could call “Hard Luck Woman” my favorite guilty pleasure song. But there’s a rising movement led by people like Chuck Klosterman who think that the phrase “guilty pleasure” is inherently stupid — one should never feel guilty for liking something as harmless as a pop song. I don’t really have a stance on the matter, so “Hard Luck Woman” will have to exist simply as a song that I’ll probably love more than I should for the rest of my life. “Hard Luck Woman” proves Paul Stanley to be not that bad of a singer. In fact, I would compare his raspy, heartfelt performance here to Rod Stewart’s best work if I could do so without looking like a huge idiot. The song’s lyrics aren’t great (they’re about some sailor’s daughter named Rags, of all things), but there’s something about the way Stanley sings them that perfectly complements his and Ace’s dual guitars. Shockingly, I’ve never encountered anyone who weighs less than 250 pounds and doesn’t have a goatee who loves “Hard Luck Woman” as much as I do.

I can’t rightfully call “Hard Luck Woman” Kiss’s best song; I’m no Kiss connoisseur. I haven’t heard the third installment of the Alive series or any of the infamously over-pressed solo albums, and I’ve never subjected myself to the torture that supposedly is Music from The Elder. But I’d much rather take “Hard Luck Woman” into the future with me than atrocities such as “Beth,” “Plaster Caster” and “Calling Dr. Love.” Even if you don’t like “Hard Luck Woman,” you have to admit that it’s a pretty cool song.

Archived article by Ross McGowan
Sun Staff Writer