. . .
If you knew how I felt now, you wouldn’t act so adult now
Like a lot of teenagers who got their minds blown by the original cast of Saturday Night Live, I stopped watching the show between the time Bill Murray left and the time Eddie Murphy became a superstar, though I would tune in when say, the motherfucking Clash were playing. I mean, c’mon.
And I went all in on that season that featured Christopher Guest, Billy Crystal, Martin Short and Harry Shearer, because it was fun to see these ringers bring in pre-established bits in a different context. But that was only for one year, and I was once again, fully ignoring SNL when in January of 1986, NBC announced that the musical guest that week was going to be The Replacements.
And given that the host that week was Harry Dean Stanton, newly sainted because of his work in Repo Man, we made sure that Kirk’s beta machine was prepped and ready to go. I doubt that we watched it live, given that to actually be home and watching TV 11:30 on a Saturday night would have indicated something was terribly wrong. In any event, they did a blistering “Bastards of Young” and a raucous “Kiss Me on The Bus,” the latter after they had already incurred Lorne Michaels’ wrath by cursing on the former.
(NOTE: I lived on the West Coast, so the offensive word was not aired when I watched it, and it might have taken some time for me to even know that they cursed.)
In any event, “Kiss Me on the Bus” felt like a weird choice to me when “Hold My Life” or “Left of the Dial” were right there. But that’s just a quibble, I was just glad to see them on TV at all! Unlike R.E.M. or U2 — both of whom, of course, tried harder — the ‘Mats or Hüsker Dü just weren’t on a lot of TV in the mid-1980s.
On the bus, that’s where we’re riding
On the bus, okay, don’t say “hi” then
Your tongue, your transfer
Your hand, your answer
In any event, “Kiss Me On The Bus” is one of Paul Westerberg’s most vivid songs, as a hornt-up Paul channels his inner New York Doll and goes looking for a kiss. On the bus. Oh, and let’s not forget that “buss” is another word for “kiss,” though I doubt Paul ever considered calling it “Buss Me On The Bus.”
On the bus, everyone’s looking forward
On the bus, I am looking forward
And it really ain’t okay
I might die before Monday
They’re all watching us
Musically, “Kiss Me On The Bus” is a bit of a throwback, almost a 60’s style shuffle, guitars twanging all around, tempo up, but not even remotely loud. And while they did cut a cool loud version as a demo with Tommy Erdeyli, I enjoy the extra layers of percussion stuff on this one, not to mention Chris Mars double-backbeat throughout, which just jumps out during the chorus.
Kiss me on the bus
Kiss me on the bus
Ooh, if you knew how I felt, now
You wouldn’t act so adult, now
Hurry, hurry, here comes my stop
I also think that “If you knew how I felt, now / You wouldn’t act so adult, now” is one of Paul’s greatest couplets — not despite, but because he rhymes “now” with, er, “now” — and following that with “hurry, hurry, here comes my stoooooooooop” just reinforces the desperation and urgency he’s conveying. You can actually see him glancing at her and glancing at his upcoming stop and then glancing back at her. (Of course, it a little bit funny that sure, he wants her to kiss him, but not willing to miss his stop for it.)
After the second chorus, after Paul almost strangles on “my stop,” he knocks off quick, keening — almost rockabilly if he taken the time — guitar solo, which I think, the first place the Replacements invoke The Handclap Rule (“Handclaps always make a good song great, and a great song immortal”), and after that, it’s just Paul pleading for a kiss over and over again, his case strengthened by Tommy’s backing vocals, as well as some well-timed sleigh bells.
“Kiss Me on The Bus” was a single at least in England, though it wasn’t one of the songs from Tim that the Replacements “made a video” for, and while it didn’t chart anywhere, it served as one of the anchors on the first side of Tim.
“Kiss Me on The Bus”
“Kiss Me on the Bus” on Saturday Night Live, 1986
“Kiss Me on The Bus” live on the Old Gray Whistle Test, 1986
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