Kiss on the Water Tower

August 31, 2007    By: Kristen J @ 4:13 pm   Category: Life,Mormon Culture/Practices

I was what you would call “musically sheltered” as a young child. My parents really weren’t huge music fans but they had their favorites. For instance, my dad loved Anne Murray and my mom was an Elvis fan, but we didn’t hear very much of his music because my dad thought Elvis was an idiot. They both loved the Carpenters and John Denver. When my dad was feeling really crazy we listened to groups like the Oakridge Boys.

I was the 4th of 5 children and one of my older sisters, who was the second born, did not allow the musical sheltering to last for very long. One day when my sister was 7 years old, which made me 4 years old at the time, she brought home a 45 single of the Ohio Players song, “Fire”. My dad took one listen to that song, grabbed the 45 off the player, and snapped it in two while he shouted, “We will not be listening to this kind of music in my house!” Listening to that song now I have to cut him some slack because it really is a pretty spicey song.

Los Angeles was the place we called home during the “Fire Incident”. We stayed there for a few more years but we eventually migrated to Washington State to be near my father’s family. My parents worked hard to keep their tidy little cultural shelter around us while my sister did her best to tear it down. She was more successful during her teenage years but she still managed to throw us all into major shock and sorrow by participating in “The Pepsi Challenge” and other such degenerate activities while she was still in her tweens.

One day, when I was about nine, I was riding in the car with my mom. I can’t remember where we were going, but our drive took us past the old orange water tower that stood on one side of our town. Usually I didn’t pay it much attention but today was different. Today I noticed that some misguided soul had spray painted (quite nicely) a gigantic Kiss logo on the side.

My mom “tsked” with a disgusted look on her face and I felt ill, maybe even a little bit heartsick. “What horrible person would do such a thing?” I asked myself. They must be devil worshippers, I thought to myself. What other explanation could there be? Everyone knew that KISS stood for “Knights in Satan’s Service”!

It really bothered me for a while, thinking that there were Satanists among us, but soon I developed an obsession with the Smurfs and I was able to move on.

The funniest part of this story is that about the same time my future husband brought in the Kiss “Destroyer” album as his contribution to his 5th grade party. If I had only known!

Thanks for listening to my ramblings.

[Associated Radio Thang Songs: Kiss – Detroit Rock City; Kiss – Shout It Out Loud; Ohio Players – Fire]


  1. My family is not LDS, but my oldest brother listened to heavy metal and became a drug dealer, so by the time I was old enough to care about music, my parents had decreed heavy metal Satan’s music, and I was not allowed to listen to bands like AC/DC or um, I don’t remember.

    My parents knew nothing about punk, though, so Suicidal Tendencies were fine.

    Comment by Susan M — August 31, 2007 @ 5:43 pm

  2. Kristen,

    Your musical upbringing sounds pretty similar to mine, except for the Fire incident. My mom is a big Elvis fan and I was raised on John Denver. Kiss is way to glam for me (at any age). For some reason which I cannot explain, my parents never audited my music, so they didn’t end up snapping my records in half. I was allowed to play most ska music in the house and punk music, if it was upbeat enough (like Toy Dolls or the soundtrack to Dogs in Space, but not Minor Threat or Dead Kennedys). I never slapped in any Rage Against the Machine, I don’t think.

    They must be devil worshippers, I thought to myself.

    You crack me up. I know exactly the kind of nine-year-old you were. Love it.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 31, 2007 @ 6:33 pm

  3. Ha! Both of your comments crack me up because I did the same things as soon as I was old enough to care. I loved the Cult, Suicidal Tendencies, Echo and the Bunnymen (I know, not that heavy), and the Clash. My parents did not have a clue about “New Wave”.

    Once I tried to go to school dressed up like early Madonna and my mom (after dealing with my sister for many years)said, “Oh no, you turn right back around. I will not have you dressing like a weirdo!”

    It was probably a good thing in the long run because I had the potential of going down a very strange road.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 31, 2007 @ 7:12 pm

  4. When I was nine we were all about Van Halen and White Snake. I still get that little feeling when I hear “Here I go again”. The only music my parents ever confiscated was my beastie boys tape I got in second grade. Maybe it was because I listened to the song “girls” over and over and over…

    Of course, then came the metallica, which lead to suicidal tendancies, which lead to Led Zepellin, which took me to Guttermouth and the Queers, which introduced the all the punk bands like NOFX, op ivy, Bouncing Souls, etc, and all this reminds me that I need to dig up my old mission letters and find my major argument with my wife about music to post.

    One rambling inspires another.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2007 @ 7:17 pm

  5. Ok, a second grader listening to “Girls” over and over and having their parents confiscate it. I giggled over that one!

    Actually, my 3 grader was walking around singing, “I’m a genie in a bottle baby. You’ve got to rub me the right way…”

    I had to sit her down and explain to her what it meant and that she shouldn’t be singing that song.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 31, 2007 @ 7:22 pm

  6. Listening to Licensed To Ill in second grade? Dude, how young are you again? That album came out in late ’86. (I know of at least three of us in this discussion who were in high school at the time.)

    My parents were converts. They never picked up on the “be strict and have rules” part of Mormonism if I remember correctly. They certainly didn’t do any form of music censoring that I remember… In fact, I believe we had the Black Sabbath Paranoid album in the family LP collection. (The story is that my dad bought a box of LPs for like a buck at a yard sale and that was among the records… I love “Iron Man” as a little kid.)

    Comment by Geoff J — August 31, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  7. BTW — Great story about that snapped 45 Kristen. The lyrics of that song are pretty racy. And I wouldn’t give my kids a copy of Licensed To Ill either. There’s some nasty stuff on there too.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 31, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

  8. The only times I can remember my parents getting mad about lyrics were (1) when they heard my sister listening to Shivers by Boys Next Door which starts out “I’ve been contemplating suicide, but it really doesn’t suit my style”; they didn’t care for that line, and (2) when they found some lyrics my friend had just written for our band. The song was called “Yentl Soup” and had something about cutting up Barbara Steisand to make said Yentl soup. Our band very nearly “broke up” that day.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 31, 2007 @ 8:08 pm

  9. Hey, that reminds me of a time when I was in junior high and I was riding in the car with my friend while her mom was driving. They were a very Christian family, I think her dad worked for Billy Graham or something.

    Anyway, I asked if I could play this really great song by Vitamin Z called “Burning Flame”. This is how the lyrics go:

    And how you teased when I first made love,
    And I’m left so naked like a burning flame
    Burning flame…

    Her mom freaked out and started saying, “He said naked in that song didn’t he? That is just so disgusting!”

    She freaked out about a naked flame and never even noticed the “making love” portion of the lyrics.

    The funny part of that story is her daughter turned out to be one of the wilder girls in my high school.

    Sorry, more ramblings.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 31, 2007 @ 8:59 pm

  10. Geoff is sitting next to me (watching a BYU game from FIFTEEN YEARS AGO! yawn!)and he leaned over and read your comment Jacob and said, “Yentl soup? Gross…but funny gross.”

    Comment by Kristen J — August 31, 2007 @ 9:02 pm

  11. Funny story Kristen, but I thought you were gonna say it was your sister who had painted that KISS logo on the water tower to spite your parents. I guess she wasn’t that out of control! I remember feeling so rebellious listening to the Offspring and Green Day in High School. Oh how my mom hated those bands!

    Comment by Jamie J — August 31, 2007 @ 9:44 pm

  12. Sometimes I feel bad for my kids. My daughter has to listen to lame pop music in order to rebel from us.

    I took my boys to see Linkin Park recently, we had back stage passes and almost got to meet the band. LP was their favorite band when they were small—my youngest used to go around singing, “Shut up when I’m talking to you! SHUT UP!” He was 6.

    (I’ve never been into nu metal, but I have to admit they put on a good show.)

    What’s wrong with genie in the bottle? Is it supposed to be nasty?

    Comment by Susan M — September 1, 2007 @ 9:12 am

  13. Oh yeah—once Heart’s “Magic Man” came on and my oldest, who was about 13, asked me what it was about. It’s a song I’ve loved since I was a kid, one of those that you never really pay attention to what the lyrics actually mean cuz you’ve heard it since before you could understand what it was actually about. So I listened to it with him and realized it’s most likely about a drug dealer who seduces an underage girl with drugs. Nice.

    After we figured that out I told him it reminds me of my sister. Haha. (He said, “You have a sister?”)

    Comment by Susan M — September 1, 2007 @ 9:15 am

  14. Never really been much of a Kiss fan … there’s much much better music out there.

    Comment by danithew — September 1, 2007 @ 9:39 am

  15. Did anyone listen to the replay of Terri Gross interviewing Gene Simmons on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday? Holy smokes-so awkward. Simmons apparently doesn’t have any sense of humor as concerns himself and KISS and was quite obnoxious to Gross (although admittedly some of Terri’s questions were eye roll inducing).

    Comment by Katie — September 1, 2007 @ 10:33 am

  16. Destroyer was their best album. I went through a butt-rock stage. My parents didn’t appreciate that. Looking back, all those bands sucked, but my friends thought they were cool, so voila.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 1, 2007 @ 10:54 am

  17. Susan,I think mostly I was opposed to her walking around singing, “You gotta rub me the right way, My body’s sayin’ lets go!” That’s the issue I had with Genie in a Bottle.

    Jamie, that would have been a way more exciting story if my sister had painted the kiss logo. Her artistic ability just wasn’t up to par though.

    Susan, I know what you mean about the pop music, Hannah Montana is the music of choice around our house. You know it’s bad when I’m walking around the house singing, “If we were a movie..” (it’s a Hannah Montana song). If you don’t know who HM is you just don’t know what you’re missing!

    Danithew-I think Kiss might be the most fabulous music to ever hit our planet! ;)

    Katie- missed the interview but I did see a few minutes of his reality show (VH1 I think). The episode I had the pleasure of watching was when he was having the grand opening of his bikini car wash. It was really…intellectually stimulating.

    Comment by Kristen J — September 1, 2007 @ 10:57 am

  18. Geoff: I turned 30 in July. License to Ill came out when I was in second grade.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 1, 2007 @ 11:05 am

  19. Susan: My daughter has to listen to lame pop music in order to rebel from us.

    Har! You are one person for whom I could see this being true.

    Matt: I turned 30 in July. License to Ill came out when I was in second grade.

    You were 9 in the 2nd grade?? (I’m mostly yanking your chain, bro. My guess is you were really in 4th grade like the vast majority of 9 year olds)

    Comment by Geoff J — September 1, 2007 @ 11:30 am

  20. I think Gene Simmons likes to pretend like he takes himself really seriously. If you watch his show, initially you think, what an obnoxious ass. But then if you watch it some more, you realize he’s really not that serious. Or maybe it’s just that his kids and wife constantly poke fun at him.

    I mean come on, how seriously can any member of KISS take himself? But man, he knows how to make money.

    BTW, his mother was a holocaust survivor, and he made a promise to her that he would never drink or smoke, and he never has.

    (I watch a lot of bad tv.)

    Comment by Susan M — September 1, 2007 @ 1:28 pm

  21. I actually was held back by my mom and was 9 in 3rd grade, so I was off by one year…

    Comment by Matt W. — September 1, 2007 @ 3:22 pm

  22. Hey, I too was held back by my mom. She thought I was too small to go to kindergarten and she wanted me to be closer in school to my younger sister. I’m sure you’re thrilled to hear all about it!

    Comment by Kristen J — September 1, 2007 @ 4:08 pm

  23. Wow Kristen! Your post actually took over the “recent comments” section!! What an accomplishment!

    I’m a musical illiterate…I like a lot of things but couldn’t tell you who sang any of them! Pretty pathetic.

    Comment by Pam J — September 1, 2007 @ 6:43 pm

  24. Ha ha, I have watched that Family Jewels show and it drives me crazy as it is so obviously scripted. I think that whole poking fun at Gene thing is a lame attempt at making him Ozzy-esque. Anyone else notice that?

    Geoff, maybe it is because I am a convert but Paranoid is a favorite in my CD collection. I think people’s biggest objection to them is simply their name. I am more offended by today’s pop/rap music than any of the rock/metal genres.

    Susan, I used to like Linkin Park myself and have been to one of their concerts. However, in my opinion, they are definitely a band that one outgrows. I imagineyour boys have already done so.

    I like music discussions….

    Comment by AJ — September 1, 2007 @ 11:13 pm

  25. I think people’s biggest objection to them is simply their name

    By them I meant “Black Sabbath”

    Comment by AJ — September 1, 2007 @ 11:15 pm

  26. AJ- By today’s standards a lot of those 70’s heavy metal bands seem pretty tame now.

    I’m enjoying hearing the musical memories and experiences people are sharing here.

    Comment by Kristen J — September 1, 2007 @ 11:50 pm

  27. The Gene Simmons show is definitely scripted. Or at least, very contrived. I love bad TV.

    My boys have outgrown Linkin Park but still enjoyed the show and the novelty of being able to walk around back stage at a huge rock concert! It was pretty awesome.

    Comment by Susan M — September 2, 2007 @ 9:44 am

  28. Sorry I am a little late on the conversation, but I just want to say that I am glad to finally have something from Kirsten to read!!! Keep on Writing!! I love to read your postings… no offense meant for the others that post :).

    Comment by seew — September 4, 2007 @ 8:34 pm

  29. Thanks SEEW. You know that most people surf over to the thang and when they see that it’s just posts from the other guys and not me they immediately move on!

    Sometimes they even make comments like, “We are so sick of these posts, when is Kristen going to write again?”

    Geoff always deletes those comments.

    Comment by Kristen J — September 5, 2007 @ 10:37 am