She'll Grow Back: Guestpost: Jumpin' Gene Simmons - Haunted House

Friday, October 30, 2009

Guestpost: Jumpin' Gene Simmons - Haunted House

Howdy, all. Today's spooky guestpost is by my good friend, The Chromium Swan (his previous guestpost is here). He sez:

Every holiday is, at least in part, an excuse. An excuse to party, an excuse to travel home to friends or family, or even an excuse to listen to seasonal music. Halloween is my excuse to listen to today's featured song ... "Haunted House," by Jumpin' Gene Simmons (wiki AMG obit). This is not the KISS Gene Simmons with a general disdain for all things civil , but Jumpin' Gene Simmons, who once handed a guitar to an unknown Elvis, and recorded 21 songs with Sam Phillips after that same Mr. Presley gave him a referral. For a little history on his career and why "Haunted House" became the only thing we know him for, see here. But I'd rather talk about the song itself.

To the untrained ear, this is just a wacky song about crazy spirits and their shenanigans; however, I submit for your approval that it is not only a brilliant horror story, but also a snapshot of times gone by. The song starts out with a man, clearly alone, who has just moved into a new home, and simply wants to rest. Anyone who has ever moved can attest to how terrible this experience can be, and how important it is that the post-move period be ghost free. It is therefore fact that any horror movie would be at least 47% more horrifying if it started with the main characters moving (Stephen King capitalized on the only setup that was potentially more horrifying -- having the main character shop for a new car). The guy in the song (we'll call him Gene, b/c 'guy in the song' gets old fast, and I like pretending Gene wrote it) is a rough and tumble guy who, after admitting that moving's tough, immediately follows up by assuring us that he has the situation under control. Gene hears some ringing bells and rattling chains, and demonstrates some training in -- or inclination towards -- recognizing paranormal phenomenon. While a modern guy would have called his home inspector back out to check if the noises came from improperly tightened (but responsibly harvested) ceiling lumber, in 1964 men were men and Gene immediately recognizes the signs of a haunting. All this in the first verse!

Gene decides he's already moved in, and he's not leaving, so he goes about his business. The spirits don't take to this kindly, and next thing you know, he's having a conversation with some kind of creature who threatens him by tapping its feet. Gene breaks out the chorus here and tells the creature that he has been lawfully deeded the position of boss on this property, and that no "haint"* is going to change that, especially after he just finished moving.

The song loses a bit of realism at this point, as Gene starts cooking on his new stove; I have moved many times, and I've never been able to find all my kitchen stuff the same day. However, if you suspend disbelief, you hear about a typical 1964 post-move dinner diet... consisting of coffee, grease and a hunk of meat. When his cooking is interrupted by another spirit, he actually tries to warn it! He's such a tough, two fisted (yet courteous) guy that he warns the ghost it might burn itself! The ghost pays him back by eating his dinner and drinking up all his coffee... which is kind of a jerk move, and qualifies as a truly horrific end to a difficult day.

What happens next? Does he leave the house? Does he do the Monster Mash? Or does he go all Ray Parker Jr. on them? I've listened 100+ times and I'm still not sure how it really ends ... listen and see for yourself.

* A
haint is apparently a southern colloquialism for a ghost or spirit ... use of jargon like this further proves our hero Gene is an expert in the paranormal.

Jumpin' Gene Simmons - Haunted House
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