Song Of The Day 6/17/2016: Gene Simmons – “Waiting for the Morning Light”

Improbable Collaborations – Believe it or not, this is the song that spawned this little mini-week of unexpected musical combinations. A couple of weeks ago I went on a brief episode of KISS Googling, inspired by hearing their uncommitted 1981 concept album Music From "The Elder" for the first time. I don't remember why I decided to give that album a spin. As time sallies forth I'm losing more and more of my ability to explain my justifications for detours, except for simply never taking them before. Anyway, somehow, this little jaunt down Greasepaint Lane led me to a Gene Simmons solo album from 2004, subtly titled Asshole, which was Shakespeare's rejected title for Titus Andronicus. Media outlets and retailers less enthralled with the upfront vulgarity (including Spotify) represent the title as ***Hole, an amusing and very "meta" choice since asterisks look like nothing if not little assholes.

Asshole is a hit-and-miss affair. Well, mainly miss. It's probably better than his first solo album, the one that came out in 1978 along with all the other KISS solo albums. Some decisions should have been probed a little further than they were, like the direct copy of The Prodigy's "Firestarter" with Dave Navarro on it. Or the adult alternative lust anthem "Dog," which takes the metaphor exactly where you don't want to see it go. However, I wear my affection for "Waiting for the Morning Light" unabashedly, especially since it was a co-writing effort between Simmons and Bob Dylan.

See, in his most extended period of nebulous worth between Infidels and Time Out of Mind (a lineage of so-so original albums paused only by the great Oh Mercy), Dylan made some out-of-the-box collaboration choices for which, in the spirit of encouraging others to achieve the impossible, I suppose we should laud him. Like Carole Bayer Sager ("Under Your Spell"), or Michael Bolton ("Steel Bars"). Sometime in the '90s -- I'm thinking a little bit before Time Out of Mind came out -- Simmons called up Dylan and asked him if they could write a song together. Dylan said yes. Apparently a working phone is all it takes to get Dylan to write with you.

The writing session produced this song, "Waiting for the Morning Light." I like it. It's a sweet little song. And listen to Gene sing this one -- damn! It's great! See what a little personal investment will do for your upper range there? But the thing I like most about "Waiting for the Morning Light" is that even though Simmons (whom Dylan directly addressed as "Mr. KISS") fused a temporary partnership with the greatest lyricist in rock and roll history, Dylan -- again, I hope, in the spirit of encouragement -- only wrote the music. Simmons wrote the words. Dylan wrote not one syllable. That's a real kick in the ***.

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