I recently happened to hear the Alice Cooper song “Desperado.” If you’re thinking of the Eagles’ song, think again. Cooper’s song is from his 1971 album Killer. I came to know it as a child from his Greatest Hits album, and I came to know it very well. Although I’ve not heard the song for probably two decades, I remembered every beat, every word. In fact, anticipating music videos, as I child I penned a comic-strip rendition of the song. Although it is long gone, I vividly recall every panel and how poorly they were drawn. I’m not sure why that particular song spoke to me so intensely, but it is quite clear that Alice Cooper was a major childhood influence. This was strange because I was an evangelical Christian as well.
Vincent Furnier has had a tremendous impact on rock music. When I went to see him in concert on his Along Came a Spider release tour most of the other people there in Atlantic City were guys my age. I’d probably’ve been afraid of most of them if I’d met them on the street at night, but this wasn’t exactly a sell-out stadium event. In fact the room for the show wasn’t that large and we could get fairly close to the stage. You had to have tickets for the after-party, but Cooper was standing outside the room where it was being held, and we passed within mere feet of him on our way back to the car. I wanted to let him know just how much he’d shaped my identity, primarily through his first solo album Welcome to My Nightmare, but I could barely hear after the show, and besides, I didn’t have a ticket.
I know Nightmares with the Bible isn’t being marketed or sold as a trade book but anyone curious about the title might consider Alice Cooper as an inspiration. During seventh grade I missed a lot of school due to sickness (I was a sickly child). During those days off I listened to Welcome to My Nightmare over and over, thinking about death. Pretty intense for a thirteen-year old, but then I’ve always been that way. Even at a young age I realized we all die. It therefore made (and makes) sense to think about it. That’s something my religion and fascination with horror tropes have in common. Alice Cooper seemed to be able to blend these things, in his own way. And that’s a lot to come out of a song last heard decades ago.