New York Dolls, “Looking for a Kiss”

The New York Dolls! From 1973.

This is off the first album. I can’t believe this goes all the way back to when I was in my sophomore year in high school.  First time I ever heard this band, I think it was 1974 or 1975. I was working as a janitor at a school and one of the fellow janitors pulled up and he had the second album blasting away, and I thought, “Jesus Christ, if that isn’t the loudest, noisiest damn music I ever heard!” It was just pure, raucous noise!

I heard it again in the summer of 1978 when I had a job as an ice cream truck driver (which doubled as a drug-dealing (pot) operation like something out of Dragnet. One day I went into a record store on my route and there was the 2nd album blasting away again. It still sounded like the wildest noise, but it sounded better then because I was more used to that type of music. I asked the clerk what it was, and he told me. The band had broken up three years ago, and I was just hearing it for the second time.

Really no one was into them way back then. It was just a few “underground” types. The Glam Rock scene was very small. I didn’t really know anyone who was part of it. This was a very underground scene that hardly anyone knew anything about, and you almost never met anyone who was into it. Those who did know about it often hated it, I believe due to homosexual connotations.

Most of us were big into heavy metal back then. Metal was the big thing. Also progressive rock – Yes, Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, etc. This music is widely hated now, but boy was it popular back then. I also think that prog rock made a lot of very good music. It just wasn’t necessarily real hard rock and roll. It was more akin to classical music if anything.

Lyrics:

When I say I’m in love, you best believe I’m in love, L-U-V

I always saw you just before the dawn
When all the other kids were just draggin’ along
I couldn’t believe the way it seemed to be
Rememberin’ the things you used to say to me

About you know I can’t be wastin’ time ’cause I gotta have my fun
I gotta get some fun
I got to keep on movin’,
Can’t stop ’till it’s all done
And never done

Well, listen when I tell ya got no time for fix
‘Cause I just gotta make it, can’t afford to miss
And there’s one reason I’m tellin’ you this
I feels bad
And I’m a-lookin’ for a kiss

Well, wontcha tell me why those kids are movin’ so slow
Is it just that they don’t have a place to go?
When the day starts breakin’, the sun is gonna shine
It’s hard to sleep if I been cryin’

And all the old ladies they are on their way to church
You go to church
I’m beggin’ will I be a-roamin’ while I’m looking, got to tend to my search
I keep on searchin’

Well, listen when I tell ya, you got no time for fix
‘Cause I just gotta make it, can’t afford to miss
If there’s one reason I’m tellin’ you this
I feels bad, bad, bad
And I’m lookin’ for a kiss

Well, I been lookin’ for a real hot kiss
Come on, kiss me!
Aaaaah-ooooh!

You think it’s bad, but you know it’s true
So why won’t you just let me live, baby?
When I’m lookin’ for a kiss

When everyone goes to your house, they shoot up in your room
Most of them are beautiful, but so obsessed with gloom
I ain’t gonna be here when they all get home
They’re always lookin’ at me, they won’t leave me alone
I didn’t come here lookin’ for no fix
I-I-I know I been houndin’ the street all night, oh late baby
Just-a lookin’ for a kiss

I need a fix and a kiss
I need a fix and a kiss
I need a fix and a kiss
I been looking for a kiss

I didn’t come here lookin’ for no fix
I-I-I know I been haulin’ booty all night long, baby
Just lookin’ for a kiss

If you are wondering what the song is about, this is as good as anything else out there:

When he says he’s in luv, you better believe he’s in luv, L-U-V. He’s looking for a kiss, he’s NOT looking for a fix.

To better understand this song, we need to go way back to the 1960’s. In the early 60’s, we got the ORIGINAL bad girls of rock. While the other girl groups would curtsey and sing about sunshine, soda pop, and rainbows, The Shangri-Las came to kick ass (of course they did it in a semi-appropriate 1960’s girly sort of way.). While they’re tame by today’s standards, they paved the way for Joan Jett, L7, Betty Blowtorch, Crucified Barbara, etc.

The Shangri-Las had recorded a song called “Give Him A Great Big Kiss”. It’s about a girl falling in love with a guy who is the “good’ sort of bad”, not the EVIL sort of bad.

When the NYD’s recorded this in the early 70’s, ‘shooting up’ (usually heroin) was fairly common. David Johansen, who wrote this song, is giving the view from a male’s POV of the Shangri-Las song. He says (paraphrasing), “I don’t want a girl who’s a goody-goody church goer, and I don’t want a girl that’s strung out, I want a girl that’s the good kind of bad girl, not the evil sort”.

The Shangri-Las were best known for the song, “The Leader Of The Pack”. As with anything new, the world was not ready for them, which meant they had to work twice as hard, and eventually they quit. I won’t say they were defeated, because they weren’t defeated. In a sense, they started an army which defeated those who opposed the “bad girl” persona. Many of the greats, males and females, from pop to punk to metal and beyond, credit the Shangri-Las as a big influence. Obviously they had an impact on TNYD’s as well, which you can hear by listening to this song and then listening to The Shangri-Las – “Give Him A Great Big Kiss”. I hope that helps.

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Filed under Glam, Music, Pop Culture, Rock

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