How Rush’s ‘I Think I’m Going Bald’ gently mocked a Kiss Ballad

Rush was officially capital-P prog in 1975, their evolution away from straightforward hard rock solidified with the virtuosity and stony experimentation of Caress made of steel.

But “I Think I’m Going Bald,” an outlier from their third LP, felt like a farewell to that early style: shorter and less intricate; closer in spirit to, say, “Rock and Roll All Nite” than “The Necromancer”. And fittingly, the title playfully nodded to the rockers who showed them the living ropes.

“We toured a lot with Kiss in those days,” Rush bassist Geddy Lee told Martin Popoff in the 2004s Content under pressure“and they had a song called ‘I Think I’m Going Blind’ [‘Goin’ Blind’,’ a ballad from 1974’s Hotter Than Hell]. So we kind of took the piss out of that title by just coming up with this.”

Drummer Neil Peart – who had joined the year before and quickly became their lyricist – pushed the band into a more philosophical place, reaching out for science fiction and philosophy. But he kept things relatively cut and dry on “I Think I’m Going Bald,” using this phrase to analyze the hair paranoia (hair-anoia?) of his bandmate guitarist Alex Lifeson.

“[Peart] came up with this line, ‘I think I’m going bald,’ because Alex is always worried about losing his hair,” Lee told Popoff. “Even when he wasn’t losing his hair, he was obsessed that he can lose hair. So he would try all kinds of ingredients to put on his scalp, and I think that got Neil thinking about aging – even though we weren’t aged yet and didn’t have the right to talk about it yet.”

Listen to Kiss Perform ‘Goin’ Blind’

“I Think I’m Going Bald” probably won’t make anyone’s list of favorite Rush songs, but it does have one thing going for it: highlighting the band’s underrated sense of humor. “A lot of people mistake us for being dead serious,” Lee added, “but some of our songs are just plain silly.”

It’s easy to imagine Kiss appreciating the hat tip – after all, the two bands had become friendly on the road. Rush opened for Kiss on their debut tour outside of Canada after the face-painted hard rockers fell in love with the band’s self-titled debut LP.

“You know I love Rush, always have,” Gene Simmons would later revealed. “When we first heard Rush, we were hit. It was like Canadian Led Zeppelin [mimics Lee’s singing], this tall banshee thing. This was before Neil Peart came along [mimics intricate drumming]. That was before Neil took them to this other place. In the beginning… Rush was a hard rocking band.”

Rush apparently eschewed Simmons’ groupie-assisted parties on the road, instead mostly hanging out in their hotel rooms — though Lifeson bonded with the guitarist Ace Frehley by inventing one strange character called “the bag”..” (Apparently Simmons wasn’t a fan.)

Listen to Rush Perform ‘I Think I’m Going Bald’

“The roof came up once in a while, not that often,” Lifeson recalled in the Rush documentary Time stands still. “It was just a face drawn on a big laundry bag. You know, they had those paper laundry bags in the beautiful Holiday Inns we used to stay in, and I made two holes for the eyes and drew a silly face in it and wore sweatpants. and put my arms through the sweatpants so only my hands came out at the knee And wearing the bag the bag would talk like this [speaks in bizarre voice]. And the bag was always full and was really smart and knew everything — and made a lot of suggestions for people in the room while they were running commentary for a couple of hours.”

Rush and Kiss apparently shared a real friendship, even though their musical styles had already diverged by the mid-’70s. It’s unclear what Kiss thought of “I Think I’m Going Bald” or if they even knew about the title reference. (“I remember we played Caress made of steel once before [Kiss co-founder] Paul Stanley“, Lifeson said in the Rush documentary Beyond the Lighted Scene. “We just got it. We played it in our van for him one night and you could tell he just didn’t get it. A lot of people didn’t get it. We wondered if we even got it.”

Still, decades later, Simmons retains a fondness, both personally and musically, for the band they shared so many stages with.

“Unfortunately, I was never able to see Rush live in the early days because we were busy putting on makeup to get ready for our show,” Simmons said. “But much later I was able to actually go to a Rush show when they were doing their own arena shows and see the glory that is Rush. Still one of my favorite bands of all time.”

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