“Beth” has some of the most sensitive lyrics of any of Kiss’ hit classic rock songs; however, the original lyrics of the song were very different. Gene Simmons had a major problem with the original lyrics of “Beth.” Simmons takes credit for changing the name of the song. On the other hand, Peter Criss’ wife, Lydia Criss, says she came up with the new title.
Gene Simmons of Kiss and Lydia Criss have different stories about how the lyrics of ‘Beth’ came to be
Destroyer is one of the most famous albums of Kiss’ career. The classic record includes famous songs like “Shout It Out Loud,” “Detroit Rock City,” and “Beth.” During an interview with Rolling Stone, Simmons recalled Criss coming to him with a new song he wrote called “Beck.”
The song’s title did not satisfy Simmons. He wondered if the song was supposed to be about Jeff Beck, one of the guitarists from The Yardbirds. Criss replied the song was about a girl named Becky. Simmons said he advised Criss to call the song “Beth” instead. He said the name Beth was “simple, with a softer syllable so it doesn’t stop you like Beck.”
On the other hand, Criss’ wife, Lydia, told Songfacts a slightly different version of the song’s origin. She said Simmons wanted the song to have a different name — and she suggested it should be “Beth.” Lydia opined Simmons would never acknowledge her contribution to the song.
Kiss’ producer changed the song in a way that was supposed to appeal more to women
Regardless of who changed the lyrics of Kiss’ “Beth,” producer Bob Ezrin told Rolling Stone the track had a much different tone before he worked on it. “I took it back to my apartment and sat at my piano and came up with that little piano figure that kind of informs the song, and then started steering it down much more of a romantic, bittersweet route, so it wasn’t so cocky as the original was,” he recalled.
Ezrin rewrote the song to be sadder. “The original was more about ‘Tough luck, I’m not coming home,’” he said. “And we ended up with a song about feeling separation, and the melancholy that comes with a feeling of loss.”
Ezrin said the new version of the song appealed more to women. It certainly appealed to Lydia. She told Songfacts she cried when she heard the completed version of “Beth.” She wished it was called “Lydia.”
How the world reacted to ‘Beth’
“Beth” reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming one of the biggest hits of the band’s career. It remained on the chart for 21 weeks. Its parent album, Destroyer, became a major hit as well. It hit No. 11 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 83 weeks. No one knows who decided to call the song “Beth,” but the track seems to have resonated with its new title.
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