Unpopular Opinion: Stop Making Fun of Danzig

I know it’s fashionable to mock Danzig, but if I die tomorrow I want to be known as the man who cried out, “Enough!”

There’s nothing funny about Danzig, all right? Unless your name is “Gordon Lightfoot” or “Lemmy,” his worst performances are orders of magnitude better than the best idea you’ve ever had. As Lemmy is dead and Gordon Lightfoot lives in Canada where they don’t have the internet, I think it’s safe to say you’re neither.

Oh, some guy sucker-punched him over 10 years ago and you still think that’s hilarious? Sorry about your life, bro.

Anyway, don’t even front like you weren’t stoked when The Misfits got back together, Mr. Jaded Rock Guy. Virtually every guy I know who shits all over everything fun couldn’t help reverting back into a 14-year-old kid high on Walk Among Us when he heard that Jerry and Glenn were back on the same page.

If Danzig had done nothing but The Misfits, he could do whatever the hell he wanted for the rest of his life. Elvis singing for The Ramones about horror movies combines everything that made America great into a single package. When we talk about Danzig, we’re talking about a guy who was able to sing the title of a movie and the names of people — some of whom weren’t even in the friggin’ flick — and make it cool. And that was the lamest Misfits song. Cooler ones are about queen wasps who are human-looking from the thorax up, or how Danzig won’t cut his fucking ass. Not for you or anyone.

Hold up The Misfits' bridge-and-tunnel rock & roll to whatever artsy-fartsy, Baudelaire-reading, CBGB in-crowd band you like. The muscular guido downstroking is going to win out every time. Sorry, Patti Smith Group and Television.

Samhain echoed the final moments of The Misfits, but it wasn’t simply a continuation. Danzig was clearly listening to both British death rock and thrash metal, coming up with a brew that combines elements of both without being derivative of either. He was keyed into what was going on in rock & roll. One of the cool things about following Danzig’s career is that you get a taste of whatever he’s into at that moment. Samhain is a fascinating transition period between the straightforward punk (and later hardcore) of The Misfits and the blues-drenched hard rock of his eponymous band.

So let’s talk about Danzig the band, not the guy. I think they have some records that are better than others. I don’t think they’ve ever made a bad record. But the first two records are a one-two punch that beats the living hell out of just about every rock record that’s come out in the last 30 years.

Let’s start with Danzig. I don’t know if “Twist of Cain” is about being evil or about buying blow from some dude downstairs, and I don’t care. It’s like Jim Morrison started an ’80s rock band that wasn’t The Cult. “Not of This World” and “She Rides” continue the slow, grinding, sexy riffs that start the record. It’s a far cry from Static Age, but at the same time, Danzig (the guy) is just doing what he’s always done — crooning with the best set of pipes to grace the world of punk rock. How this guy didn’t become an even bigger rock star on the basis of this record alone, I’ll never know.

Danzig II is a bit heavier, a little faster, but nothing like the rollicking, stiff-necked work that characterizes most of Samhain and Earth A.D. He’s still channeling the Lizard King just as he used to with Elvis and Bobby Darin, but now there’s a metal edge to it. This was the sound of Los Angeles rock if you weren’t into the poodle bands — or maybe you were, but also liked something a little more subdued and classic.

The videos were all pretty cool, too.

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Listen, I get it. You guys want to make sport and laugh at a rock star who you think is a little over the hill. But might I suggest some other former punk-rock icons who have descended into self-parody? I don’t think I need to name names here.

Unrelated Note: This column is dedicated to the memory of my dear, late friend Amelia Collins. Congratulations, you have a shitty column written in your memory. I’m sure it’s what you always hoped for. 


More Unpopular Opinions:
Jack White Is the Worst Thing to Ever Happen to Rock & Roll

Chicago, the Kings of Soft Rock, Are Awesome
Punk Rock Is for Old Farts

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