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KISS, My Griots -- Writer's Poke #258

KISS is releasing its first studio album in eleven years later this fall. Why did it take them eleven years? In part, because Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley think they know what the fans want. The fans want to hear "Rock and Roll All Nite," "Deuce," and "Strutter." They do not, according to Simmons and Stanley, want to listen to new material. Is that true? Do KISS fans only want to listen to the same ten or twenty songs over and over again? I find that very hard to believe.

Then again, there's something comforting about listening to what you already know, as opposed to having to break in new material. And how in the world can a new song compete with one that you've heard hundreds of times? If your favorite songs act as the soundtrack to your life, then KISS fans may simply want to tap into the past. New songs are best sung by new artists for young people whose pasts are not yet formed.

Now, you might think this is a bit of a stretch, but groups like KISS and Rolling Stones, etc., are the modern version of griots. Where is the oral tradition these days? It's set to music, and story tellers perform in stadiums, backing up their stories with guitars and drums.

The Muse lives on in the music.

What music speaks to you? What stories does it tell?

"Music is the best means we have of digesting time." -- W.H. Auden


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