One Track Mind: Glenn Danzig, "Come to Silver" (2007)

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by Fred Phillips

When Johnny Cash came to work with Rick Rubin in the 1990s, American Records had another man in black already on the roster — Glenn Danzig. Through his association with Rubin, Danzig ended up writing a couple of songs for consideration by Cash. The first, “Thirteen,” ended up on the American Recordings album. The second, “Come to Silver,” Cash never put on tape, but Danzig recorded it for his 1996 electronic disaster blackacidevil. It was about the best song on that record, but that’s not really saying much.

I had pretty much forgotten the song by 2007, when Danzig delivered a two-CD set of previously unreleased material, The Lost Tracks of Danzig. In the collection was a much different version of the song, a much better version.

Though Cash didn’t record the song, by all accounts, he liked it, and it’s understandable why he would. After all, it sounds like something he himself would have written, a song about the temptations of riches and how giving into that temptation can corrupt the soul and destroy lives. The first verse seems a perfect lyric for Cash, especially considering the blend of sacred and dark influences in the songs from the American albums:

Come to silver/ Come to gold/ Come to do anything/ Sell your body and soul/ Make you kill a man/ It’ll ruin your soul/ Come to silver/ Come to gold.

The version of “Come to Silver” from Lost Tracks is far from the techno-industrial mess of 1996. This is the song as Cash might have done it. Danzig breaks out the acoustic guitar to strum a few chords and present a sparse, quiet version that’s as dark as anything he’s done in his career.

Though Danzig’s voice certainly can’t capture the world-weary, haggard sound that Johnny Cash delivered on his last recordings (who could?) his distinctive bass does share Cash’s ability to stand on its own with little instrumentation. The guitar is simple and quiet, putting the focus squarely on the vocal, but the western-tinged lope of the strumming does further the connection to Cash — making the track seem a heartfelt tribute to a man who certainly displayed as much or more attitude and intensity than any heavy metal hero.

Fans of Danzig had heard him sing slow, dark songs before, but never quite like this one. It’s an oddity and a rare gem for a “lost tracks” collection where, usually, the songs were lost for a reason. But there’s certainly nothing disposable or disappointing about this performance, other than the fact it will leave you wondering what Cash might have been able to do with it.

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Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse reviews.com.
Fred Phillips

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