Compiled by Barry Coddington
Over the years, certain recurring themes, and self references, have popped up here there and everywhere in Alice's work. Some are more apparent than others, and some you have to dig a bit to find, but they ARE there. Without much more ado, here's what's been discovered, to date:
Pretties for You:
Earwigs to Eternity
The entire song refers back one of the band's 'original' names, the Earwigs, and refers to their rise to 'stardom', though, admittedly, they weren't all that famous at the time this song was released.
Easy Action is a quote from the `West Side Story` stage show/movie. If you watch the 'fight' sequence the next scene has a character called Action panicking about the police catching them, going to Jail etc. the gang leader puts a hand out to him and says " easy Action " to calm him down.
Mr. and Misdemeanor
"I sit beside Misdemeanor, here's new PRETTIES FOR YOU"
"Nobody likes me, but we adore you. da da d-da da, yeah yeah yeah yeah"
Still no Air
Here begins the references to West Side Story, with
"When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way..."
Return of the Spiders
Another of the band's 'original' names, The Spiders.
Love It To Death
Long Way To Go
The line - "I guess I love it, I love it to death"
Be My Lover
The song, as written, is Michael Bruce, trying NOT to explain to a girl in a bar about the band he's in.
"She asked me why the singer's name was Alice. I said listen baby, you really wouldn't understand.."
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
Blatant self reference. "The things are getting tougher, the things are getting rougher. This is Alice speaking.... suffer."
"I'm a killer, I'm a clown.."
Gutter Cat vs. The Jets
An entire segment of the "When you're a Jet" tune recurs here.
Public Animal #9
Basically, the song's about Alice and Glen getting in trouble in school, and hoping to avoid reform school.
"Me and G.B. we ain't never gonna confess, we cheated at the math test.."
Camelback, and Cortez high schools, were Neal and Alice's Alma Maters, respectively.
Billion Dollar Babies:
The music is a recycled, redone version of Reflected, from Pretties For You. And speaking of School's Out:
"I got to get the vote, and I told ya 'bout school..."
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Of this one, band friend Skip Ladd says,
"Neal Smith and I used to do little jams where we would call each other Brother Ladd, or Reverend Smith, playing mock spiritual songs on a toy organ. Cindy once told me Neal punched Alice in the face, a few weeks later Alice added in "No More Mr. Nice Guy" a line about "The Reverend Smith he recognized me & punched me in the nose!"
Self reference within the same album,
"And I laughed to myself at the men and the ladies, who never conceived of us BILLION DOLLAR BABIES..."
More School's Out references
"Sick things in cars, rotate 'round MY STARS..."
Muscle of Love:
Hard Hearted Alice
The whole tune is about the band's life on the road, touring.
Welcome to my Nightmare:
Referring all the way back to Easy Action,
"If I live to ninety-seven, you'll still be waiting in REFRIGERATOR HEAVEN..."
Years Ago, Steven and The Awakening
Here begins the decades spanning thread of Steven, who has been postulated to be the little boy 'inside' Alice, or at least his on-stage persona.
Possibly a reference to the change in his stage make-up, but definitely a make-up reference, in any case
"I paint on my cruel or happy face, and hide me behind it..."
"And while he ran my problems down I stole his mascara..."
Then, right as the music fades, very faintly the "Gotta get outta here" refrain from Dwight Frye can be heard repeated.
Listen to it again, it's there, really.
Goes to Hell:
The album cover contains a bedtime story, told to Steven. We'll see him again.
Go to Hell
The whole song is presented as a litany against Alice, and all the 'horrible things' he's done on-stage and off, real and imagined, over the years.
I Never Cry
This one refers directly to Alice himself, as opposed to the stage character
"Sometimes I drink more than I need, until the TV's dead and gone..."
More of the same
"I'm a dirt-talkin' beer-drinkin' woman chasin' minister's son. Slap on the make-up, and blast out the music, wake up the neighbors with a roar like a teen-age heavy-metal elephant gun."
This one's a self reference, but it's also almost a premonition of the way he would 'fade from the public eye', at least in the mainstream press, for a while.
"How many said, 'I wonder what happened to Alice?' How many shrugged or laughed, how many cried?"
And his ongoing response to most musical questions
"Well I don't give a damn!"
From the Inside:
Well... the entire album's a 'transcript' of his time spent in a mental hospital, recovering from alcoholism. Every character mentioned is a representation of himself, or someone he met while there.
Marvel Premiere issue #50
A comic based on From the Inside was released at this time, chronicling (very, very loosely) the album itself, as well as being chock full of references to his work, both before and after the breakup of the band. While it would take too long to list every reference made here, it ends with a line altered from Elected (B$B) and Inmates (FtI):
"We're ALL crazy! And personally... I DON'T CARE!"
The Rogue's warning:
This book also contains the pun: "Oh Nurse Rozetta, you STONE me."
You've been warned.
Skeletons in the Closet
This one ends with
"Alice... Alice... What?!? Whaddaya want?"
Generation Landslide '81
Technically, this is more of a self cover than a self reference, but we include it anyway.
And this one ends with another reference within the same album
"Who do you think we are? We don't care..."
Zipper Catches Skin:
I Like Girls
He comes out of left field, going all the way back to Love it to Death
"I like girls, I love 'em to death..."
This one ends with the Dwight Frye/Renfield laugh
This one's definitely an 'in-joke' as he refers to the Billion Dollar Babies tour, or specifically
"I'm in the mood for my leather boots with the leopard spots..."
A curious note:
Though it could only loosely be called a running theme, two of the songs on this album were intended to appear in (very) different movie soundtracks.
He's Back, was of course used in the Friday the 13thsequel (as was Shockdance, for Shocker, and his cover of I Got a Line on You, for Iron Eagle 2), but Great American Success Story, like Man with the Golden Gun (for James Bond) all those years before, was intended, but never used, for the Rodney Dangerfield movie 'Back to School'. Guess School was Out again for Alice on this one.
Raise Your Fist and Yell:
Lock Me Up
Both a (blatant) self reference and harkening back to Goes To Hell
"Alice Cooper, you have been accused of mass mental cruelty, how do you plead? 'Guilty!'"
Then the first verse manages to cover one of his stage props (the riding crop), his makeup, and two song titles (Sickthings, and WTMN), all in four lines
"Don't wanna be clean, don't wanna be nice, the whips' gonna crack, my leather is black, and so are my eyes... I'm gonna be rough, I'm gonna be mean, I'm here to the end my sick little friend, I'm back in your dreams..."
Prince of Darkness
One more for the soundtrack theme. This was used briefly in the John Carpenter movie of the same name. For such a movie buff, it seems only proper that he's contributed to so many soundtracks over the years.
Chop Chop Chop, Gail, and Roses on White Lace
Though not really connected to anything, these three songs played together sound like a triple bill at a B-movie horror film festival, something Alice probably wouldn't want to miss. But we're stretching it here.
Burning Our Bed
A couple to be found here. First two song title references, one direct, and one indirect
"You talked a lot of TRASH and you lied to me..."
"Sometimes a man can bleed..."
Then what sounds like a nod to his guillotine on stage days
"Maybe I might lose my head, Aww, wouldn't be the first time..."
Maybe another 'in album' reference
"My heart catches fire and my bed starts to burn..."
At least a running theme.
Wind Up Toy
I told you Steven would be back.
The whole song is about the poor kid, and it even ends (just so there's no doubt about it) with the plaintive wail of "Steeeee-ven..."
The Last Temptation:
The whole album is sort of an aside to Steven, though he's never actually called by name, but...
The Compleat Alice Cooper:
The comic released along with The Last Temptation, where Steven IS actually named as being the protagonist.
`It's The Little Things' mentions "Welcome To My Nightmare, No More Mr Nice Guy"
In "Gimme" from Brutal Planet, Alice (as the Devil) states: "I really hate to repeat myself, but *Nothing's Free*!" referring back to the song of the same title on The Last Temptation.
DragonTown mentions "There's a wicked young man, cooking slowly in the frying pan" ('Wicked Young Man' on 'Brutal Planet') and "our family of bones are back together sleeping all alone" ('Pick Up The Bones' - 'Brutal Planet') and also "then there's Alice dear and all the things that got him here"('It`s The Little Things' - 'Brutal Planet')
Compiled by Barry Coddington, with invaluable assistance from Skip Ladd, Jill Koglatis, Daniel Taylor, Craig Sikurinec. HTML by Si Halley