The old saying goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” With decades of unprecedented success under his belt, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the fact that it wasn’t always multi-platinum record sales and mind-blowing stadium gigs for the legendary Don Dokken. There was a first-phase and it is those bold first steps to superstardom which are celebrated comprehensively on Dokken’s powerful new release, “The Lost Songs: 1978-1981,” out on via Silver Lining Music. This exquisite release showcases the crackle and craft of a hungry young Don Dokken as he embarked upon a journey which started in Southern California and Northern Germany. It is a trek which is testimony to the sheer endeavor and perseverance Don Dokken showed in those few years between 1978 and 1981.
After recently unearthing these precious rock ‘n’ roll relics, Don Dokken painstakingly labored over the restoration and completion of this amazing collection of tunes, which serve as a window into his creative mindset during his early days of struggle in both Germany and Los Angeles. From the sunbaked SoCal hook of “Step Into The Light” to the furious, fledgling, late-Sunset Strip sound of “Back In The Streets,” “The Lost Songs: 1978-1981” shows Don in his unfettered early days of balls-out attitude, qualities doubtless forged in the sheer nature of the adventures undertaken in writing, recording and deciding Europe was the place to keep cutting his teeth. Additionally, “Felony” carries a thuggish fuzz-coated riff -think early Van Halen in really greasy embroidered denims, while “Day After Day” showed that Don could pen a radio-slaying ballad. This unique release offers longtime fans a rare glimpse into the formative years of a true rock legend for an eye-opening look behind the curtain. Most importantly, it delivers them a vital and undeniably missing (until now) early album in the Dokken legacy.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with the legendary Don Dokken to discuss the powerful new release, his insatiable passion for rock ‘n’ roll and what the future may hold.
It’s great to connect with you today, Don. I’m excited about this new Dokken release! Tell us about how the ball got rolling on this one.
It’s titled “The Lost Songs: 1978-1981.” Ya know, it began when everything started hitting the fan. As you may know, I had surgery and I had to take some time off from touring. My right hand didn’t come out so well, in fact, it’s paralyzed. Around the same time, I bought an old car, which is a ’64 Stingray convertible. I live up in the canyons of LA, where there are trees and birds, so I couldn’t leave it outside because it would just get ruined. I said, “Well, time to clean out the garage and make room for it.” So, I did. In doing so, I came across this box of analog tapes. For people who don’t know what that means, they are these big, giant reels and I haven’t worked on that kind of format in decades. I took the box down and started looking through it and I found a whole lot of music I had made in my early 20s that I had never finished. I sang on them and they were demos. Some of them had a drum machine and my guitar playing on it with solos. I figured, “What the hell!” Everybody has to try and keep busy, so I figured I would transfer the tapes to the machine, transfer them to digital and finish them. There are also some other songs on there that had been released years later on a bootleg album called “Back In The Streets.” With this album, I tried to make a solid compilation of 11 songs. I like to call it a peek into the window of my youth! [laughs]
The first time I heard about you baking these types of tapes was from Corey Feldman. What is that process like? It’s gotta be nerve-racking!
Fingers crossed, yeah! [laughs] Corey had a bunch of songs from his band that were really old. He gave them to me, and I said, “I’m gonna go bake these things!” Because it’s tape, it’s magnetic and made up of a film and glue. When a tape sits for 20 years, it just sticks together on the reel and it won’t play anymore. You have to put them in a convection oven and bake them at 300-and-some degrees for several hours. Doing that makes the glue come unglued but it’s only good after you do it for about an hour and then it goes right back together. It’s a fingers-crossed kind of process. Even after doing this you can put it on the reel and it won’t play. With these reels I discovered I did it and got lucky. Honestly, there were probably seven or eight more songs on there, and they wouldn’t play. It was just too far gone. So, I saved what I could save and that was it!
Once they were transferred, I listened back. Some of the songs weren’t finished. They were from my early 20s when I was sneaking into studios when they would let me come in and record for free in the middle of the night on the DL, as we say. The songs were written and done. They were written, I already sang them and played guitar, so there wasn’t much I could do. However, the drum machine sounded terrible. It really made them sound cheesy, so I got my drummer BJ Zampa to put some real drums on them. I said, “Bring ’em to life, boss! Put some energy in these fuckers!” There were also a few songs that didn’t have solos on them. I never got that far, so John Levin came in and put a few solos down. We just tried to make the best of it! Like I said, there wasn’t much I could do to them. They are what they are. If I would’ve tried to redo them, it would have lost the integrity of the song. Plus, my voice sounds different. It just wouldn’t have worked. So, I just did the best I could with what we had to work with.
Did you recognize any of the material right off the bat?
Yeah, the tracking sheet said “Michael Wagener – 1979 – Hamburg, Germany” on it. I was like, “Holy shit!” It brought back memories of when I did my first tour in Germany in 1979. After we played these clubs, we would drive back to Hamburg and go into his studio at 3 o’clock in the morning and stay up all night recording!
As you said, these tracks are a window into your formative years. What were your thoughts listening back on this material?
What I noticed on these songs was the influence of what I was listening to in the ‘70s. I could tell my solos had a lot of Ritchie Blackmore influence. Some of the guitar riffs sound a little bit like Judas Priest and Saxon. They were heavy and sounded very European because that’s what I was into. When the whole pop/new-wave scene hit America, I was still listening to Saxon, Judas Priest and AC/DC. I was also seeing a lot of obscure bands at the time, like King Diamond, Europe and Accept. That influenced me, I’m sure, on some of these songs. That’s what I remembered. I put them on, and I said, “Oh yeah, I remember these songs.” I also remembered what influenced me to write these songs. I really liked the two songs that we ended up finishing and have already put out on YouTube with a bit of a video. Those are “Step Into The Light” and “No Answer,” which is really heavy. I listened to it and thought, “Wow. This is pretty damn heavy for 1979-1980.” It’s a really heavy rock song. The song that resonated with me the most on this album is the ballad titled “Day After Day.” It’s a long song that goes on for quite a while because, back then, you didn’t have those radio limitations. No one was saying, “The song has to be four minutes. No more!” Back then, the song ended when it ended! Back then, I thought the song was a really nice ballad. Even all these years later, I still feel the same way!
Dokken always had eye-catching artwork and this release is no exception. How did this one come about?
My good friend Dave Williams, who is an artist, drew 80 percent of the Dokken album covers by hand. Unfortunately, he passed away last year. He was the one who came up with the Dokken logo, which slowly changes from “Breaking The Chains” onward. It evolved over time because Dave was always redrawing it. Dave drew it and the phoenix for the “Up From The Ashes” album. For “The Lost Songs: 1978-1981,” the artist who did it is named Tokyo Hiro. He’s a very well-known artist and he does amazing work. We’ve been using the phoenix moniker on Dokken albums for years. He took it and put his own spin on it. I thought, “Wow! The album cover could be a beautiful poster.” He really does amazing work and has worked with a lot of great bands. I think he definitely had the thought in mind to make it look like a retro album. Great artwork, man! It would look great on a T-shirt!
This album captures Don Dokken before fame and before Dokken became a household name. What lessons did you learn during that time period that impacted your career?
I wish I could give you some very educated answer on that. I was in my very early 20s. I had never really spent much time in a recording studio, and I didn’t know much. It was a real learning curve. I just had to figure it out as we went along! We recorded it in an old style. By that I mean that we set up the drums, bass and guitar in the room, put the microphones up and we went for it. You put some harmonies on it, a solo, overdubs and so on. What I learned from those sessions is that it’s tedious work and it’s hard. You do the song and then the engineer says, “Do it again. You guys were speeding up a little bit.” We were amateurs, so what it taught me was that you have to really concentrate. You don’t want to play too stiff. You want to keep the live buzz and energy of it. That’s the thing we were trying to capture. With that said, it’s kinda hard when you’ve just done a concert in some town in Germany, you drive back to Hamburg and you’re exhausted at 3 o’clock in the morning! [laughs] There was a lot of drinking involved. It wasn’t about the alcohol. Michael loved Southern Comfort and coke and I drank rum and coke. I think it was mostly the sugar and caffeine that kept us up all night!
You were hungry in those years and that creative drive served you well. How did you develop your work ethic?
I don’t know if it’s a work ethic, so much as it’s in my DNA. My father’s a musician and played jazz his whole life. He’s 85 now and only stopped playing a few years ago. He had a jazz band and he would go out and play with them. My mother also played, and my daughter is a concert pianist. Everybody on both sides of my family played music. There was always a piano around somewhere, so it was always in my DNA. Sometimes you take to it and sometimes ya don’t. My daughter plays piano and a little bit of guitar but I bought my son a guitar, but he didn’t take to it. He ended up being a pilot! [laughs] It’s either in your blood, with the whole right-brain/left-brain thing, or it isn’t. You can give a doctor a guitar and they can practice every day, but it doesn’t mean they will be a great guitar player! [laughs] It was just in my blood, I guess.
You mentioned your early love of rock ‘n’ roll. What does rock ‘n’ roll mean to you?
Salvation! Salvation! One of the other reasons I was drawn to the guitar was out of boredom when I was really young. I lived in lake Tahoe and went to Truckee High School. There were literally 500 kids in the entire school for all of the grades. It snowed when I lived on the lake of the North Shore. Half the time, we couldn’t even go to school because the school bus couldn’t pick us up because there was too much snow! There wasn’t much for a kid to do. There was no cable TV, no internet and no cell phones. I would just sit in my bedroom and practice all day long. That’s really how you learn! It was a long process. I used to tell my kids, who are now in their 30s, how things were back in the day. They can’t imagine a world without television! Back then, we had rabbit ears and maybe three channels and they went off the air at 12 o’clock. There was nothing to do except read, study or listen to music. You would save your allowance up and go out and buy a record. I’d sit in my bedroom and listen. We’d do record swapping. My friend bought the first Cream album and I bought the Hendrix album. Then someone else would say, “Oh there’s a new album by The Strawberry Alarm Clock. There’s a cool song called ‘Incense and Peppermints.’” We’d all swap records and you would soak it all in. Listening to those records would take you on a journey.
Music is an escape to me. I still listen to music all the time because it is my escape. I can’t just sit around and watch the ID channel all day! [laughs] It’s an escape but it’s also kind of a treasure hunt. I’m sure many people have gone out and bought a record because they heard a song on the radio and they really liked it. They bought the album and they take it home and they like the song, but they didn’t like the rest of the record. [laughs] We’ve all been there! I’ve done that many times. You’re like, “Jesus! They’ve only got one good song on this thing? That’s it?” That always used to bother me and was something that stuck with me for a very long time. Once I got a record deal, we were always very conscious of that. We would write a great song and say, “Yeah, this is a great one. This is going to be a hit.” Well, we wouldn’t just throw in the towel then. I was really conscious of that and I wanted every song on the record to be good. That’s why we would write 16 or 17 songs and narrow it down to the 10 best!
I did my first concert at a shopping mall that was opening up in Incline Village in Lake Tahoe. I think I was 14 years old when I did that show. We played “Louie, Louie” and “Gloria.” That’s how it all started! I just liked the feeling of a couple guys playing music together because it’s not the same as just listening to music. I guess that’s how it got in my blood. Through the years, I stayed with it and I never really thought I’d be rich and famous as they say. I remember telling my dad once that I wanted to be a musician. He said, “Don, the chances of you making it in this business is one in a million.” I said, “Well, I’m gonna go for the one!”
I love that! You definitely showed him!
Ummmhummm. [laughs] I did!
What went into finding your creative voice early on?
We were playing The Whiskey back then on The Strip with bands like Van Halen, even before they got signed. I have some old flyers from when we played. It’s stuff like Van Halen and Dokken and Quiet Riot and Dokken from when we were playing the club scene. However, in the early, early days of my career when I was playing clubs, I wasn’t even the singer. We had a lead singer and I was just the lead and rhythm guitar player. The band wasn’t even called Dokken. I remember the night when we were playing with Van Halen at a place called The Proud Bird, which was over by the L.A. Airport. Our singer didn’t show up! He just flaked on us. I said, “Great. Now what the hell are we going to do?” I remember Bobby Blotzer, who went on to be the drummer for RATT, saying, “You’re going to have to sing!” So, long story short, I just started singing! I did the best I could, and I was so tired of prima-donna singers that I just kept singing, practicing and developing my voice. Essentially, that’s where I learned how to sing and play guitar at the same time.
It didn’t take long for Dokken to impact the music scene. Was it difficult to find a balance during that era of excess?
It was always a struggle! All of a sudden, you’ve got money, you’re on tour, it was the ‘80s and the heyday of cocaine. Then you start getting famous and there are all these girls backstage that want to be with you. There was a lot of partying. Everybody was partying and it’s no secret! I mean, go read Motley Crue’s book, “The Dirt.” [laughs] It was the wild and wooly west! I would say for my style of music, the ‘80s were the heyday of decadence. Those things changed when AIDS came along. When all these bands started out, we were just young kids. We were single and there was a lot of temptation out there. You’re in a different city every night and you get lonely. That’s just the way it was in the ‘80s. As you get older, you start to grow up and stop it. You get married, have kids and have to concentrate. There is a point where you realize that you can’t party every day because, after a month, it catches up with you and you’re playing badly. You feel like crap when you go onstage. There is a real learning curve there. The entire decade was a learning curve for me because I was in my 20s. I never got into the whole cocaine thing. It just wasn’t my time. The rest of the guys in my band went down that road for a while but I just didn’t get it. I didn’t like it. I tried it and I was like, “Ick.” I was more of a champagne guy! [laughs] And wine!
If I could go back and give my younger self some advice, it would be to take care of myself better, get more sleep and not stay up all night in the tour bus watching videos and talking. Back then, I would only sleep four hours before I had to be at soundcheck. I probably would’ve just taken better of myself. I probably would have been more careful about a lot of things, if I had to do it all over. You know how it is. When you’re in your 20s, you’re reckless. You think you can live forever! I look back at riding my Harley at 24, pulling wheelies from a stop sign with a girl on the back. She would start beating me in the back of the head saying, “Stop the bike! Let me off!” I’d be like, “Oh, sorry about that!” [laughs] You’re just reckless and wild when you are young. As we get older, we all begin to realize our own mortality and that we’re not going to be young forever. I think if I had that awareness when I was starting out, I would’ve been a little more careful with my life.
Where do you look for inspiration as a lyricist?
It’s really kind of hard to explain about writing a song. It’s like a painting. You put the easel up, you get your paint out, grab your paintbrushes and you start making your picture. As the picture comes along, you get more and more excited. It’s what’s coming out of your head. It’s the same with a song. I have a guitar riff, I have a lyrical idea, the bass player says, “Check this out … ,” and the drummer comes up with a beat. It’s like painting! You just keep working on it and working on it. Sometimes a song comes out amazingly. Other times, you might spend weeks on it and when you’re all done you might go, “Eh … ” and just want to paint it over or start over fresh. That’s what I learned over the years about the creative process. I can’t really say that it was a conscious effort. Without trying to be too cosmicky or wooey, I’d be sitting at home and playing my guitar at 11 o’clock at night. All of a sudden, I would hear this idea in my head. I’d hear a lyric and I’d scribble the words down and an hour later I would have a song! It just comes out of the universe or someplace deep in your brain. It comes from the heavens, ya know. I guess it also comes from a lot of influence in your life, itself. For instance, the song “Kiss of Death,” which is one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever wrote. I wrote that the year everyone started talking about AIDS. At the time, we were all like, “What’s AIDS?” Everyone was talking about it and you would hear, “Oh, it’s a gay disease.” Come to find out, it’s not that at all and it can affect anybody. We were just talking about it one night and that’s when I came up with the lyrics for “Kiss of Death.” It can be that simple.
You are still driven as an artist. What’s happening in terms of new music from Dokken?
We wrote “Broken Bones” several years ago and we had about six or seven songs left over that never made it on the record. Some of them were half done and some of them were just a spark or rough idea. We’ve been working on those unfinished songs from over five years ago and we are currently trying to finish them. If they aren’t good enough, they won’t make it. At this point, all the boys in the band are just writing because, with Covid, there’s not much else to do! [laughs] My bass player, Chris McCarvill, sent me a demo last night. I haven’t heard it yet, but I will listen to it this morning when I’m done with my interviews. He also sent me a song last week that I think is killer! He wrote a whole demo of a song and it’s a great song that will definitely be on the record. So, everyone is writing songs. Everybody gives you an idea and you write four, five, six, 10, 15 songs and go on to pick the 10 or 11 best ones. Those are the ones that will make it on the record. Plus, this year has been a crazy year. I call it “The Apocalypse.” Between the pandemic, the millions of people who have died, the election coming up, social unrest, Black Lives Matter, people looting cities and burning down stores, it seems like everyone has gone nuts! With that said, there are plenty of things out there to inspire you to write. In fact, I just wrote a song last week called “Hail To The King.” It’s my tongue-in-cheek sarcasm about the government. The title of the song is pretty self-explanatory!
I want to ask you about your connection to your fanbase. How has that relationship impacted you through the years?
The fans are my lifeblood. No fans, no career! Remember the old saying, “If you throw a party and nobody shows up, then you should probably stop throwing parties!” [laughs] The same thing is true about going on tour. If you do a concert and not many people come, you think, “Well, maybe it’s over.” We’ve been very blessed and very lucky that we had enough hits in our career that we can still go out and tour. It’s still a rush! I was recently watching some interviews with Ozzy Osbourne and he said that he has his problems right now with his Parkinson’s, but he can’t wait to get back on stage. It’s a rush and I guess there is some ego involved. I mean, who doesn’t want to go on stage and be adored! [laughs] Having people in the crowd with their fists in the air and singing the lyrics that you wrote is an amazing feeling, especially all of these years later. When I see the younger generation coming to our shows now, I think, “Wow. Those kids out there are in their 20s. They weren’t even around when I wrote these songs and they know every word!” It’s really cool you know!
This new album, “The Lost Songs,” is a great place for the newer fans to start exploring your work. Are there misconceptions about the band coming from this younger generation?
We are such a dichotomy of a band. At some point, they started putting labels on music. It used to just be called rock ‘n’ roll. All of a sudden, it was rock, hard rock, heavy metal, thrash metal, grunge, speed metal, new wave, punk and so on. Everybody started labeling music and what they thought it was. Dokken was just a good, melodic, hard rock band. Luckily, we were into harmonies. I grew up with the Beatles and all of those bitchin’ harmonies and that was a heavy influence in my youth. I would say the songs that we are most known for got a big boost from MTV and all the videos we put out. The videos we put out were for what’s considered our radio-friendly songs. I always tell fans, if you really want to know about Dokken, because you love tracks like “Into the Fire,” “Alone Again” and “The Hunter,” buy the record and listen to it. There is another side to us! We had a very heavy side to us that George [Lynch] brought to the table; songs like “Tooth and Nail,” Lighting Strikes Again,” When Heaven Comes Down,” and I can name two more! So, just don’t be influenced by what you remember from watching television or listening to on the radio. There is a lot more to Dokken than what you heard on the radio!
What is your focus moving forward?
Honestly, right now, I’m just trying to get well. I had a surgery that went badly, and my right arm is still paralyzed. Right now, my dream after playing guitar for my entire life, is that I’d like to be able to play guitar again. At this point in time, I can’t because my hand’s not working. It doesn’t move. My whole arm barely moves. I’m currently doing physical therapy twice a week and that takes up a lot of time. To put it in perspective, right now, I can’t even hold a pen. So, I bought one of those speaking programs. I sit in front of my computer and I start babbling out lyrics and melodies that I hear in my head. I also carry around a little portable tape recorder in my pocket. When I get an idea, I sing it into the recorder. What I’m looking forward to now is getting well after this botched surgery, which is something everyone knows about. I want to go on the road! I’m going to give it the year, and if that doesn’t work maybe they will try another surgery and move some tendons and maybe I will get my thumb back. We did three shows in the last few months. We were probably the only band in the United States, aside from Great White, that did a show during Covid. It worked out OK! They just did social distancing with a couple thousand people all spread out. I have to say, it felt really good to be on stage again!
I can only imagine. You guys have to be chomping at the bit to get back out there!
We are! Ya know, it’s like you’re a race car driver and, all of a sudden, they close all the racetracks. You want to get behind the wheel, hit the pedal and go! It’s that rush! You want to get back into that car and drive! That’s what I want to do. I want to get back on stage and play guitar again. I want to feel the spiritual rush of seeing people smiling, fists in the air, singing along and having a good time. That’s what it’s all about. You go to a concert for many reasons. You go for nostalgia. You’re going to reminisce. Look, when I hear Judas Priest on the radio, it reminds me of the first time I heard “Sad Wings of Destiny,” their first album, when I was sitting in my little apartment. I remember bringing that record home, playing it and wearing it out! I called my friend and said, “You’ve gotta come over, man. There’s this new record out! It’s called Judas Priest – ‘Sad Wings of Destiny.’” Everyone would come over, listen to it and say, “This is great!” It brings back those fond memories and I think the same thing goes for Dokken. It brings back memories of buying your first Dokken record or hearing us for the first time on the radio. There is a lot of nostalgia involved in this. And then, you have the new bands and you get turned on to them. That’s what it’s all about. Personally, I’m not an “American Idol” fan. I don’t get it. All of these great singers go and audition, but they are singing songs that were already hits that are not their songs. Those songs didn’t come out of their heart and soul. They are just mimicking. They might have a great voice, but I’d rather hear a song written by somebody that came from his mind and brain like Kurt Cobain did. When he put Nirvana together, he didn’t care about what was popular on the radio. Those three guys wrote what they wanted to write, and Kurt had a lot to talk about and he did it! I’d rather hear music like that!
I admire your fighting spirit, Don. You are up against it with what you are experiencing with your playing hand. You have a very positive outlook on your situation. That is inspiring to so many people and I hope you keep pushing forward.
Yeah, it’s important. The older we get, the more we realize that life is short. Every day is important. For me, I’m missing little things right now that I took for granted. I live on 13 acres of trees with no neighbors. Last year, I was cutting trees with a chainsaw, pulling weeds, building and painting. It’s those little things I miss because I can’t do them right now. I can’t hold a fork, spoon or write my name. You take those things for granted. It could’ve gone worse, this surgery. They warned me when I did it that I could come out paralyzed, partially paralyzed but I might get well. My advice to people couldn’t be clearer — don’t take anything for granted. When we come into this world, nobody hands a baby a piece of paper saying, “We promise you’ll have a wonderful life!” It doesn’t work that way. You have to work at it, and you have to find your own happiness. I know a lot of people who are unhappy, and they’ve had lots of success. I’ve known millionaires that are miserable! We make our own happiness!
You are full of great insights, Don. When can we expect a book out of you? You have plenty to say and we can all benefit from your wisdom.
I’ve had that offer on the table for about 10 years. Everybody wanted me to do an autobiography because a lot of bands from my era have. There is actually a book that I just got a copy of called “Dokken: Into The Fire and Other Embers of ‘80s Metal History.” Some of it is accurate and some of it isn’t. To me, I read the book, and it looks like the guy mostly got his information off of the internet and talked to some of us. He called Jeff [Pilson], George [Lynch], and Mick [Brown]. I know what happened in my life. I know the truth of what happened but, then again, you have a dilemma. If you write an autobiography, it wasn’t all roses and it wasn’t all wonderful, so if I told the truth about everything I’ve seen and done, I might piss a lot of people off! [laughs] I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to write a book like “The Dirt.” I would probably want to write about where I came from, my childhood, growing up on a farm and being 7 years old and laying down irrigation pipes in the freezing. I know it sounds corny but that’s where I started. As far as my music career, as I said, it just started with me sitting in the garage and listening to a turntable. I’m happy with my life. I’ve been around the world about a billion times. I have a lot of photos from standing in front of the Taj Mahal to standing at Angkor Wat in Thailand. So, someday I will write a book. My guitar player, Jon, says, “You’ve got all these stories, Don. You should just write a book.” I said, “Well, when I find the time. When I’m ready.” To answer your question, I’d probably write a book when it’s time for me to call it a day and I’m just not there yet.
Well, that’s the best news I’ve heard in a long time!
One last thing before I let you go, Don. Speaking of learning experiences, I know you are a dog lover. I know you are a German Shepherd fan. My girl, Starbuck, is 10 years old now. I always say she’s the love of my life and the thorn in my side. [laughs] What are your takeaways from your experience with these amazing creatures?
Ya know, I am standing in my bedroom at the moment, staring at the floor. We bought this shaggy carpet at the end of the bed and it’s in about a million pieces!
Yeah, I’ve been there!
Yup! You’ve been there! [laughs] We have a new dog. We had four dogs but, unfortunately, the oldest one who was 13 years old just passed away about a week ago. That was old Kane. King Kane we called him because he was the boss! Great dog, great shepherd. We have three dogs now, three shepherds and a golden doodle. It’s a big golden doodle, full-size. It’s a great mix and they all have their different personalities and vibe. The puppy right now is a terror! I have to hide my shoes and socks, or she will eat ’em! [laughs] The thing that everybody who loves shepherds knows is that even though they are big dogs, just like all dogs, they give you unconditional love. Even if you have to yell at them. That’s the problem we are having now. She came from a shelter. We brought her home and named her Brunhilda, a nice German name. The other one is Elka and Cody is the doodle. The problem with any dog you get from a shelter is that you don’t know what they went through before they came into your life. Our puppy shepherd, who is about a year or less, must have had a problem with a guy. I say that because when I raise my hand up to pet her, she will jump back or run away. I have to coax her over because she is skittish and doesn’t trust me quite yet. The other dog, Elka, is a giant furry puppy as is the doodle. Obviously, the puppy is traumatized in some way and had a bad owner at some point. Any person that abuses a dog, I’d like to see them take the same abuse. Abuse towards dogs just infuriates me. That’s probably what I’m going to start doing in the next week-and-a-half; slowly start to gain more of her trust. She will come up and let me pet her and she jumps on the bed in the morning and wakes me up. Unfortunately, when she jumps on the bed she sits on my face! [laughs] I’m like damn! She doesn’t have any boundaries yet! If I raise my voice, to call out for somebody because living on 13 acres you’ve gotta yell to find people, she’ll pee and start shaking. If I raise my voice, she trembles and pees. Obviously, she’s traumatized. That’s my next project; to teach her that there is nothing in this house but love. She’s just got to learn trust. Dogs are so forgiving. Can you imagine if people were like dogs and were that forgiving? We wouldn’t have any war, riots or everything we have going on right now! People can learn a lot from dogs.
I applaud your efforts with another rescue, Don. I can’t wait to see what comes next for you! We’ve covered a lot of ground today. Let’s hit this new release one last time.
Absolutely! You should go out and by “The Lost Songs: 1978-1981” because all these songs were written before what I would call the classic lineup of Dokken, which was George, Jeff and Mick. They joined the band in 1982, so it’s just a peek into the window of my life in my early 20s when I was struggling, starving and broke! I didn’t know what was going to happen in my life and all I had to escape with was music! It’s a great peek into where Dokken started and how it came about. You’ll hear all the influences! You’ll say, “Man, this was written in 1978? Sounds like, Don!” You can hear my style of writing, let’s just put it that way. I hope people enjoy those little nuggets.
No worries, boss. Stay safe and give Starbuck a pat on the head for me!
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