Danko Jones
Danko Jones sings and plays guitar for his eponymously named band. Conversely, he also dabbles as a music journalist writing for Close-Up Magazine, Rock Zone Magazine and Burning Guitars.

Entries by Danko Jones

Don't Be Precious About Your Vinyl Collection

(16) Comments | Posted May 2, 2014 | 8:44 AM

As our access to all music has gotten easier, I've quietly watched people valiantly sticking with the vinyl medium despite record store closures and the unstoppable advancement toward the digital age. While it's commendable saving an aging format in the face of tempting convenience, I can't help but note the...

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The Day I Met Johnny Cash (and Sold Him a Nirvana Record)

(3) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 4:29 PM

Watching Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson perform "The Highwayman" during the Grammys last week, signature song of their country supergroup, The Highwaymen, conjured up the one lone memory I have of the band when I met fellow Highwayman, Johnny Cash, and sold him a Nirvana record.

I was working at...

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In This World of Perishable Rap, 16 Songs That Will Never Expire

(0) Comments | Posted January 20, 2014 | 10:33 AM

From its underground beginnings, rap music has long surpassed rock n' roll to become the representative soundtrack for the last few generations of kids. Even people who might not like it have already been immersed in it by default through commercials, television show bumpers, movie themes etc. You would think...

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The Weird Stuff I Got Myself For Christmas Part 2

(0) Comments | Posted January 14, 2014 | 9:35 AM

Although Christmas is supposed to be a time for giving and spreading good cheer, it's also the yearly chance to find out just how little family and friends know you by the worthless gifts you get. Sometimes, carelessly chosen presents are enough to add additional layers of outstanding familial issues...

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Honestly, I'm a Little Bummed KISS Got in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

(2) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 9:07 AM

So KISS are finally getting into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, huh? Well, congratulations to the guys. There's no band more deserving of the honour than Kiss. I mean, anyone can run off the statistics (Kisstistics) to prove the point -- 100-million albums sold, 28 gold albums, 13...

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Soup Will Never Be An Entree -- Period

(4) Comments | Posted December 2, 2013 | 11:19 AM

First, I must state that I like soup, OK? It can be a delicious side dish or appetizer when accompanying a hearty meal. However, it's when soup graduates to entree that it becomes total bullshit.

I've never been a humongous soup fan. Not once did I ever come home from...

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Rob Ford Memes: Sometimes All We Can Do Is Laugh

(2) Comments | Posted November 15, 2013 | 11:24 AM

Our band spends a lot of time on the road, far away from home. Travelling in over 30 countries for over a dozen years, we've often found ourselves as default representatives for our hometown -- Toronto, Canada. Up until October 31, 2013, response upon hearing we were from Toronto was...

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Don't Support This Heavy Metal Racist

(37) Comments | Posted November 13, 2013 | 1:19 PM

Kristian "Varg" Vikernes, lone member of the band Burzum, is the most notorious figure in heavy metal. In 1994 he was sentenced to 21 years in prison for murder and his participation in the burning of several Norwegian churches (trust me, the irony of Kristian's name is not lost on...

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A Lifetime Of Fandom For Death Angel

(1) Comments | Posted October 28, 2013 | 12:25 PM

Death Angel is one of my favourite bands of all-time. I remember seeing people around Toronto wearing their shirts, not sure of who they were and yet intuitively knowing that was my band, kinda like when you see someone across a crowded room and sparks fly. I went and bought...

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Stop Singing "Hallelujah" So My Ears Can Stop Bleeding

(11) Comments | Posted October 15, 2013 | 8:19 AM

There are millions of songs out there. Some are good and some aren't so good. Yet, with as many songs that exist and the amount of new songs being written every day you'd think people's knowledge and recall of them would be vast to the point of discombobulating. Apparently not...

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Want to Win an Award? Become a Canadian Musician

(2) Comments | Posted September 30, 2013 | 5:43 PM

Seems like everyone furnishes their place at Ikea. No matter whose home I visit, I end up seeing Ikea book shelves, tables, drawers, futons, lamps, rugs, towels and pillow cases. Despite it being an inexpensive depot for novice homeowner/renters it can get pretty damn boring. In order to separate yourself...

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52 Weeks of Blog Comments

(7) Comments | Posted September 27, 2013 | 4:27 PM

When you put yourself out in the public eye, you have to be ready to take a few slaps across the face. I believe this kind of public flogging is the well-deserved balance needed that allows cretins, such as I, who play power chords for a living, to sometimes be...

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Crowning The King Of Rock N' Roll

(3) Comments | Posted September 10, 2013 | 9:20 AM

"Why would anyone leave The Hellacopters now?" I said to myself, staring at a promo poster for The Backyard Babies' sophomore album, "Total 13", hanging on the walls of the now defunct Toronto punk rock record store, Full Blast.

The Backyard Babies, from Nässjö, Sweden, were a Rock N'...

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I'm Sick of Seeing Your Disgusting Feet

(30) Comments | Posted August 26, 2013 | 11:59 AM

Most of us, if we could, would change at least one thing about ourselves. I'm guessing the most common changes would be weight loss, facial reconstruction, increased breast size, increased penis size, and reversal of hair loss. With the exception of penis size, all these changes occur above the waist...

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Does a Band Rock Harder With Makeup, Or Without?

(3) Comments | Posted August 16, 2013 | 5:21 PM

The first time I heard Eddie Van Halen I finally relented and gave in to the notion that you didn't need to wear make-up, fancy clothes or assume some otherworldly alter ego to be taken seriously as a band. In total opposition to every music critic who repudiated flamboyant bands...

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How Dare You Call Jagger Too Old to Rock

(11) Comments | Posted August 2, 2013 | 8:57 AM

On July 26th, 2013, Mick Jagger celebrated his 70th birthday. Having already publicly stated my dislike for handing out birthday salutations/commemorations here at The Huffington Post, I concede that reaching 70 years of age is quite the milestone and to do it with Jagger's spirit, fronting "The World's...

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I've Always Been a Rocker

(2) Comments | Posted July 26, 2013 | 8:35 AM

Ever since I could remember, I've been a gluttonous fiend for music. Even though I started out as a hard rock/metal kid, once I discovered The Bad Brains and their album, "Rock For Light," I realized limitations placed on music were artificial and it stirred a musical chaos in my...

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I Don't Care That It's Your Birthday

(1) Comments | Posted July 19, 2013 | 8:02 AM

Regardless if you're a fan of the band or the television show, through social media, I've found that a lot of people suffer from a mild case of arrested development -- the disorder whereby the brain ceases to grow and advance.

Mind you, a lot are mild cases and...

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Pandering to Indie Fans: The Forgotten Indie Rock Albums

(2) Comments | Posted July 12, 2013 | 5:25 PM

As much as you may see yourself as an open-minded, cosmopolitan freethinker, whether you know it or not, most people see you quite differently. For myself, playing in the band that I do, I'm fully aware that I've been pigeonholed, rather superglued, to the idea of embodying some sort of...

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Meeting a Muse: Sitting Down With Kiss' "Beth"

(0) Comments | Posted July 5, 2013 | 12:00 PM

I met Beth. As in the Beth in that song, "Beth" by the rock band Kiss off their album Destroyer.

Sung by drummer Peter Criss, the song became the band's biggest hit, achieved gold status and opened them up to a new level of respect and reverence despite it being directly obverse to the band's known hard rock sound.

Piano, flute and a symphony of strings were delicately utilized by producer Bob Ezrin for this sweet romantic ballad about a musician wistfully singing to his girlfriend/wife, desperately wanting to come home but unable to do so. And even though the song might've been sung to/for Peter's real life wife at the time, it may surprise people to know that her name wasn't Beth at all. It was Lydia -- Lydia Criss -- and I met her.

When you become a fan of anything, be it a rock band, a sports team or whatever else, after you've exhausted your fandom on the object/person in question, you either lose interest in said obsession and move on to something new or you graduate from novice fan to diehard fan. Your obsession mutates into a fascination for the minutiae surrounding said object d'amour.

For a sports fan, it might turn into extensive knowledge of all the back room dealings, the owners, the board of directors etc. For a rock fan, it might be an exhaustive knowledge of the producers, managers and roadies of their favourite rock band. Sometimes, the interest in the band's music gets superseded by the behind-the-scenes trivialities itself. When it comes to Kiss, I am one of those kinds of fans.

My fandom for Kiss will remain with me for the rest of my life. But I honestly don't listen to "Detroit Rock City" or "I Was Made For Lovin' You" all that much anymore. Even though it's a classic tune, how many times can one person be expected to listen to "Rock And Roll All Nite" without eventually wanting to slit their own wrists?

I've heard it so many times that it has the same impact as listening to "Happy Birthday" or the national anthem. No, my interest in Kiss endures because of the 40 years of rich band history there is to scour and revel in. Maintaining fanaticism for Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley is similar to trying to sustain interest in Superman and Batman after you've discovered Wolverine, Moon Knight, Spectre and Hawkman. Although, some would argue that one's maturity level is already stunted if you're still in need of a Superhero/Rockstar fix.

Meeting Lydia was a huge moment for me. She's arguably part of the band's inner circle -- having been present during Kiss' formation, struggle and crest of success. Being Peter Criss' wife during the first decade of the band endows her with an insider's vantage point that isn't riddled with skewed ego that fame and fortune can sometimes indelibly leave on a person's psyche. But more importantly, she belongs to a very elite class of people -- the muse to one of popular music's greatest songs distinguished further by its one name title i.e. "Layla," "Angie" and "Suzanne."

When the applause, accolades and admiration finally dim on the singers and songwriters, whose output make up the soundtrack to people's lives, does anyone stop to wonder what becomes of their muses? When you're a zealous superfan you most certainly do. The desire to meet the subjects of beloved songs is assuredly a quest to understand the singer who sang about them. It's also kinda nuts.

Still, as someone who has harnessed muses for creative inspiration before, finding the nub of the songwriter through his/her muse is an elusive and futile task. Sometimes a muse is there to emote only a feeling; sometimes their influence is as slight as the delivery of a sung word. However, when the song is open, upfront, and about boundless love like "Beth" it piques curiosities. I had to meet Lydia.

I met Lydia in Manhattan on a day off from tour this past April '13. We agreed to meet at my hotel room to record a conversation for my podcast and to say I was nervous would've been the understatement of the year. Here was a woman who had in-turn inspired a thousand first/last dances, accompanied many a lonely heart and represented the longing for what countless others were going through. Truthfully, I only grew to love the song when I was far from home on tour and caught myself saying over the phone that I "can't come home right now" too.

All my fears and nervousness quickly dissipated within the first five minutes of meeting Lydia. She was disarming, charming and apologetic for being only two minutes late. I inwardly breathed a sigh of relief and nervousness turned to excitement -- I was about to have a one-on-one with "Beth."

During our hour-long talk, she was most obliging, happily enduring my inclination to steer the conversation back to Kiss and, probably for the millionth time, courteously went through the entire backstory that led up to the recording of the song. To hear it from the source/the inspiration of the song itself was indescribable and something I think only other Kiss fans would be able to appreciate.

Of course she also agreed to our sit-down because the second printing of her book, Sealed With A Kiss. The impressive photo book of her days married to Peter Criss had just been released and memories were easily reminisced. Stories I had read to mythologizing degrees were casually tossed off like they happened yesterday, but this wasn't some musicologist or historian, this was the source. I was in Kiss heaven.

When a band or person achieve superstardom the way Kiss did, supporting characters tend to get pushed aside regardless of how vital their role. Yet, no matter how deified, over-exposed and stale these major acts get it is at these moments when the tide shifts and these background players start to come to the forefront to assume their rightful place as diamonds in the rough.

Lydia is that diamond.

Listen to Danko interview "Beth":

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