Death by Power Ballad: Paul Stanley, “Hold Me, Touch Me”
I’ve long had a man-crush on soft spot in my heart for Paul Stanley, Kiss’ lead vocalist and most musical member. He’s the best singer in the band, a commanding stage presence, and his songs are the best things on every one of the dozens of albums the band has shat out since their 1974 debut (sure, Gene Simmons might claim to have written 300 unreleased songs, but they all doubtless suck, just like most of the ones that got released). And at age 57, he can still bring it live, whether in seven-inch leather heels with Kiss, or in more modest foot apparel in his solo shows. Check out his DVD One Live Kiss for a primer on playing great rock and roll well past what most people consider an acceptable sell-by date. Seriously, he’s only six years younger than my father, and Dad had to give up playing to sold-out stadium audiences in his early 40s. It’s exhausting.
Stanley’s put out two solo records in his career—1978’s Paul Stanley (part of Kiss’ stunt of releasing four solo records simultaneously) and 2006’s Live to Win. Each has plenty to recommend it, if you’re into the kind of melodic rock on which he’s built his career.
“Hold Me, Touch Me (Think of Me When We’re Apart)” was the sole single released from the 1978 album (peaking at Number 46), and it features many of the instrumental hallmarks of the day, mainly the shimmering acoustic guitars, dead-sounding drums, anonymous background vocals, and faux strings (courtesy of something called an “Omni string ensemble,” an analog synthesizer that, coincidentally, was also responsible for powering Mork’s journey from Ork to Earth that same year).
Stanley is in his most sensitive pillow-talk voice, doubtless laying on his back in a state of repose, fingers gently playing with his own chest hair, sensitively addressing the chick he’d just met backstage six hours before:
Though I know that you are sleepin’
Girl, there’s somethin’ I must say
Though the road may wind
My love will find the way
That’s a really nice sentiment, Paul. Certainly, this divine maiden would be charmed as all hell by your wooin’ and philosophizin’ about winding roads and such. But she’s asleep. You acknowledge this in the first line. She’s probably even snoring a little. This fazes you not a bit, though, cuz you go on:
Many the miles have come between us
And the days, they come and go
Still with all we feel
It never really shows
Huh? Okay, now we’re wondering if you’re asleep. I mean, how many of us stand guilty of talking a bit in our slumber? I certainly do. Though, even my most unintelligible soliloquy from behind the veil of unconsciousness makes more sense than that. But you’re Paul Stanley, it’s 1978, and you can say whatever you want.
Hold me, touch me,
And think of me when we’re apart
Hold me, baby won’t you touch me
And think of me here in the night
And you know it’ll be alright
Man, that blow that Ace had was pretty powerful, huh? And it was a good show—Gene didn’t catch on fire, and Peter’s arm flab didn’t knock over any cymbals like last week in Detroit. But Paul … Paul? Paul—she’s still asleep. Out cold. It’s kinda—
Though the time apart seems endless
All my thoughts remain with you
I believe one day
We’ll make our dreams come true
That’s great, Paul, except she’s dreaming currently. Right now. As you speak. She hasn’t woken up yet. You’re still coming down from the show, the blow, and your “performance” with this lovely lass, but you really need to get a hold of yourself. Did you get all the greasepaint off? Things can get absorbed through the skin that might cause—
Our goodbyes go on forever
And with all that we may say
Till tomorrow comes
We’ll dream of yesterday
Again, man, she’s hot, definitely, but in the morning you’re just going to give her cab fare and show her the door, like all the other chicks on this tour. Tell you what, after you’re done with another chorus, a guitar solo, and a final chorus, why don’t you fix yourself a drink, relax a bit, and chill with the wooin’ and the philosophizin’. She’ll probably still be asleep when you’re done, and then you can crawl back under the hotel blankie, count a couple sheep, and slip into a gentle rock star slumber.
Nighty-night, Paul Stanley.