A couple of days ago, Mick Fleetwood told NPR that a band’s greatest hits belong to its fans “to be reinterpreted and create a backdrop for parts of their lives.”
With that in mind, who among us has not related … or yearned for the boyfriend or girlfriend that might allow us to relate to Peter Criss’ chart-topping “Beth”? The power ballad went gold for Criss’ band KISS in 1976, and has reigned as an ear worm on Classic Rock stations ever since:
Beth, I hear you callin’
But I can’t come home right now
Me and the boys are playin’
And we just can’t find the sound.
Close your eyes and visualize poor Beth, alone in her negligee on that giant bed, the scented candles guttering in sad recognition that art always comes first for a soulful dude like Pete.
Now open them wide for the alternate and extremely spirited take above. This version gives us Beth’s side, compliments of writer Bob Winter, director Brian Billow of Anonymous Content, and actress Lilli Birdsell, MILF-ing it up to vintage perfection as she juggles the kids and a meatloaf in the oven. Rockstar husbands’ salaries aside, Birdsell’s Beth is the embodiment of the red-blooded female multitasker popularized by the Enjoli commercial of the same period. The news that her husband “can’t” come home right now is met not with a tear, but a hilariously flat “What?” (I loved how it took several repetitions for the lyrical hook to register with her.)
I was rooting for this Beth to pull a Thelma and Louise, loading the twins into the Country Squire and dumping them at the studio for their father to deal with. Sadly, our heroine is no match for years of built-up fan interpretations. Guess Betty Draper’s not the only pretty woman doomed to sip her dinner as she stoically ignores both children and partner’s empty plate.