KISS' Music From The Elder - 'Odyssey' Songwriter Tony Powers: "I Do Remember Paul Struggled With The Lead, But I Thought He Did A Great Job"

December 1, 2012, 6 years ago

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In conjunction with KissFAQ’s month-long NovElder retrospective, key Music From The Elder contributor Tony Powers goes on record for the first time about his "odyssey" with KISS. Check out an excerpt from the interview below:

KF: How did you become involved on the Music From The Elder project?

TP: "There was a bar/restaurant in New York called the Cafe Central. It was on 74th and Amsterdam in Manhattan. A lot of showbiz people used to hang out there: writers, actors, producers, director -- names you would know. And we met there. Paul was aware I had recorded 'Odyssey'. I'm not sure if I had done the video by then, but he knew the song and he really liked it. And he asked me if they could use it on the album and of course I said yes. I was quite flattered. And then he wanted me to come to Toronto with him to help finish this other song. I did that and I played piano for them on 'Odyssey'.

KF: While acknowledging he likes the song, Paul has criticized his vocal performance on 'Odyssey'. Do you remember any hesitation on his part, and do you recall any talk of Gene singing the song?

TP: "I'm sorry, that I don't remember. I do remember Paul, even then he struggled with the lead. But I thought he did a great job. No, I don't remember anything about Gene being considered to do the lead vocal. He quite well might have been."

KF: The song is very sophisticated musically -- there are interesting chord changes and musical twists. The lyrics also have a cinematic quality. Tony, I've always wanted to ask you: What was your inspiration for writing this song?

TP: "I have always been fascinated by the concept of time. To me, physics and time are very interesting things, very interesting topics. I'm writing a script right now that's got a lot to do with that. As far as 'Odyssey' is concerned, it was just the thought that there are many times that exist in the same time. And everything -- past, present, future -- happens at the same time. And what we consider to be time is an illusion. I guess I was just dwelling and thinking on that. I'm pretty sure it just started with the very first line of the song, 'From a far off galaxy I hear you calling me.' It just came quickly after that. And the lyrics to the chorus always knock me out. I just loved it."

KF: The Elder came out in 1981. Do you remember when you actually wrote 'Odyssey'?

TP: "I think I wrote it in '79 or '80 and I wrote it in my apartment in Manhattan on Riverside Drive and 77th. I remember sitting at the piano and writing it. And I remember being knocked out by where it was going, where it was taking me."

KF: Paul has said, "Me singing it was just tragic."

TP: "He doesn't think the vocal suited him, I understand that. I feel for him. A person wants to feel like he did his best work and put his best effort into it. I thought he did terrific. I really did. I think he wasn't as loose as he wanted to be, maybe. I don't know what it was. I know that he didn't think it suited him upon hearing it later on."

Read the full interview with Tony Powers here.

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