I don’t have anything all that insightful to say about Lemmy, who died tonight, or about Motörhead, the band he lorded over and which lorded over rock and roll longer than I’ve been alive, but they were god damn madmen and you should have loved them if you didn’t.

When I was a bad teen, I went through a serious punk rock snob phase, in the depths of which I interrogated the aesthetic and ideological purity of pretty much every record I listened to. (I vividly remember sitting there with a Hank Williams greatest hits collection, wondering if it was really okay to listen to; I eventually decided it was, not being that bad a teen.) I got over the worst of it real fast, but for years and years the tendency lingered, especially where rock and roll records were concerned, and as far as big time major label acts went, it took something that kicked so much ass it couldn’t be denied to rope me in: Guns N’ Roses; AC/DC; fucking Motörhead.

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I never was some Motörhead superfan, and I’m not going to pretend to have been one, but while the very idea of heavy metal has always been suspect to me, tied up with all sorts of bullshit involving heartfelt emotions and fantasy novel scenarios and wanky, trebly guitar solos, they—and especially their ace front guy, Lemmy, who had a giant mole on his face and a cool mustache and crazy eyes and sang into a microphone set a foot over his head for some reason—always got the hardest pass because they just played raw shitkicker songs that had one tempo, one tone, and no discernible subjects past being pissed off and wanting to beat people up, which is always okay by me. They outrocked Metallica on their own signature song!

They were all a thousand years old, looked and sounded like they lived on whiskey and cheap drugs, and dressed like Mad Max villains, and if they only had one song—and look, all Motörhead songs are exactly the same song—it was really great. They were even punk rock supporters and allies!

As far as great bands that only had one song that you never got sick of went, I was always way more into the Ramones, but that you had these impossibly hard-assed, grizzled old dudes not only putting out the same ass-kicking record once a year forever and never going soft or weak but doing a god damn Ramones tribute always made me happy. If there’s any justice, Lemmy’s out there somewhere doing some kind of disgusting drugs and grunting and croaking something incomprehensible about being the last guy you want to fuck with.

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