The Zen of Danzig

I consider my Zen shakuhachi playing to be part Tony Iommi and part Watazumi. This is the inward self, or a concept of a part of it. The outward shakuhachi self is turning into part Danzig and part Zamfir. A similar combo, but more Z’s are involved.  Z is for Zen. Sometimes. Maybe.  Our Primary One Sound on shakuhachi, “RO” has been inserted into the middle of this Danzig arrangement to illustrate Emptiness Realization.

When Glenn Danzig sings “Until you call on the dark” he also sings “I want to be your emptiness.” We all know, from Buddhism, “Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form,” but sometimes we just parrot these axioms. Danzig, we might say, has a vital interest in “the great problem of life and death,” which is also very Buddhist. Duality is a persistent hobgoblin. Our culture has spent a great deal of energy creating and bolstering a “one-side of the coin” mythology. Truth, Justice, Right, White, Shining, God.  Hercules, Superman.  Glenn knows that this is total bullshit. There are no one-sided coins, and “until you call on the dark,” that is, until you KNOW from your very core that as long as you have light, DARK COMES WITH IT—then you are suffering, and suffering from your own, self-created delusion.  Or, another description might be: a vast stream of ignorance that had a great deal of momentum long before you or I were born.  The bigger picture is made into an enemy.

Of course, a Zen Master might tell Glenn that he is “attached to the dark,” but Danzig as a force of darkness, redressing an imbalance in Western pop culture, this has seemed to be his “correct situation.” And God bless him for it.  Sometimes. Maybe.

There’s no question that, like Black Sabbath, Glenn has taken all of the raw power from blues and rock streams and channeled them into something dark and appealing at the same time; but in terms of personality and worldview the question remains: is he a huge asshole, or just a frighteningly honest realist?  Is there a difference?

Excerpt from 1992 interview with Danzig:
Q: Where do you get most of your ideas from in your songwriting?
Danzig: Anger. Frustration. All that kind of stuff. I pretty much hate everybody and everything.
I like to take personal emotions, and mix them with things I see around from other people.  That’s what I like to do.
Q: In a recent video you wrestle an alligator.  There’s also a scene with you running with wolves…
Danzig: I get along very well with animals.
Q: What do you like about good bands?
Danzig: I think originality should be encouraged—rather than just having people imitate what’s popular because they want to make money or have naked girls in their beds every night or something. That’s not what music’s about.

Excerpt from 1995 interview with Danzig:
Q: Why don’t you like Sinead O’Connor?
Danzig: It’s bullshit. Insincere.
Q: Which bands do you consider bullshit that were playing here today?…apart from Sinead O’Connor…
Danzig: Most of them.
Q: What’s wrong with them, to me they seem like nice, sincere bands, can you explain?
Danzig: Right now in music I see a trend towards, uh, if someone’s your friend, that means their band is good.  To me that doesn’t necessarily cut it. Okay?  And, I like music that I like.  I look for sincerity, I look for realness in the music.  If it’s not there, I don’t like it.  So, maybe reality for you is different than reality for me, if you know what I mean.

Excerpt from 2009 interview with Danzig:
Q: You’ve never been married, right Glenn?
Danzig: No, I’m not an idiot.