Thursday, February 3, 2011

Glenn Danzig in retrospect

It is difficult to really sum up the career of Glenn Danzig.  As a primer I recommend reading this essay.  Money quote:

"There are two dominant cultural narratives of Danzig; the first is of the dumb rocker guy who sang “Mother,” a song that now resonates at sporting events coast-to-coast. The other, amongst those who care about such things, is that of the Punker Who Fell from Grace; the dude who wrote all of the Misfits’ music, invented at least two sub-genres and was the backbone of one of the most influential bands of the last 30 years (and now, given the prevalence of AFI and My Chemical Romance, might we not argue that Samhain has become as influential, if not more so, as the Misfits?) and then threw it all away to disappear in a haze of testosterone and strippers dressed like cats."

Think about it like this; there are very few bands out there that continually draw a new batch of teenage fans every year.  The Misfits is one of them.  Also, how many people can claim to have written songs for Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison?  Danzig is one of them.  Danzig is an artist whose influence casts a wide net.  And yet Danzig is also the man that decided, in his 30s, to grow his facial hair to resemble that of a comic book character whose catch phrase is "bub".

It is kinda strange to think about it, but do the math here. Danzig was born in 1955, so if this was an early 90s classic video then Glenn would be in his mid 30s.  And reading comic books and growing comic book facial hair.

In a way you can say that he was far ahead of his time, because back then comic books weren't the trendy high brow affair that they are today.  They were made into Saturday morning cartoons not blockbuster movies, and certainly not the subject of highbrow hipster essays on culture.  Yes, that really is an award winning 14 page essay on comic books.  Or you can say that he was a 35 year old man-child that never matured into an adult, instead indulging in every pre-pubescent fantasy from martial arts to women.

I'm not sure what he was going for in this video?  What do you think?

I guess it's hard to say which is true.  Maybe both?  After all, what's the difference between being eccentric and being ahead of the times?  And if society didn't make men wear suits and sit in cubicle farms, wouldn't you spend all day lifting weights and growing crazy facial hair?

For me Danzig's music is cyclical.  The Misfits were great but I have a hard time getting into Samhain.  Danzig 2 and 3 are awesome but I have a hard time appreciating the later Trent Reznor inspired stuff.

I mean really?  The whole song screams "the beautiful people".  I guess it's not bad but one of Danzig's charms was the retro vibe.  Before there were "vintage thrifters" Danzig was giving you something that felt older and odder.  But maybe this will grow on me as my 90s nostalgia grows.  Man I miss those times...

What was I talking about again?  Oh right, strippers.  So anyways Danzig has a new album out, and he made a video promo for it.

So I don't think I'll be lifting weights to this. But I noticed that Danzig wears a shirt the whole time. I mean I guess he's 55, and looks pretty good for being mid-fifties. He still has the strippers in his videos too. But it makes me feel sad to see the eternal man-child seemingly grown old. I think if Danzig is going to start wearing shirts and putting the claws away he should just go all grizzled old man. Let the greys show and cut the pretenses in the songs. I mean for as much as he talked about going retro on the production of this album it still sounds overproduced to me. I know he isn't working with Rick Rubin anymore but this song would have been much better in a more stripped down and raw way that Rick is famous for.

So that's Danzig for you. The man has accomplished more in his lifetime of music than most people. Just writing songs for Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison usually gets you some sort of rock and roll medal. Add in Mother and he's already legend. Then the Misfits, Samhain, and all the great Danzig solo albums and forget about it. And he can say that he did it his way every step of the way. Again that is quite an accomplishment. Even if I don't enjoy everything he's written (who does?) I enjoy quite a lot so he should take this as a compliment if his jitterbug ever gets a web browser.

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