Lord of the Chains

Year: 1984

Song: “Breaking the Chains” by Dokken

As I’ve said before, one of my favorite genre of metal songs is the anthem that sounds like it’s about scoring with chicks but is really about the power of male friendship — e.g., “Round and Round” and “I’ll Be There For You.” “Breaking the Chains” isn’t that song, at least not in lyrics. The video, though, is a true ode to male friendship.

So what happens is, Don Dokken is going through a breakup. We’ve all been there, bud. But in his heartbroken state, he’s convinced himself that his house is haunted with the spirit of his ex, so he’s called over his buddies. To be fair, the house IS turning on him a bit:


I just want to know how many times someone got smacked for real with one of those lights. Actually, I don’t need an official figure. Just tell me, greater or fewer than 5.


Like in all good music videos, Don and his pals decide the best way to expunge this ghost is to rock it away. And when you have George Lynch on your side, how could it be a bad idea?

George Lynch is everything in this video. Nothing says “let me help you with your heartbreak, bro” like shiny red pants, suspenders, and keds. It’s like the mullet of outfits: business on the bottom, party on top–just like his glorious two-toned actual hair mullet. Honestly, there is nothing I can say about George Lynch’s sartorial choices that he himself hasn’t already said better, but I am very glad he exists.


Just in case you’re not convinced, allow him to play his CHAIN STRING GUITAR for you.

Anyhow, back to the matter at hand. Dokken and pals may as well have set up ouija board because their playing only draws the ghost of Don’s girlfriend closer. She appears to have written him a letter. 18 pages, FRONT AND BACK!


Also, she’s a giant.

On the one hand, no one wants the giant ghost of an ex-girlfriend taking up valuable root vegetable storage space in their cellar. On the other, her “I mean, wouldn’t you kinda want to torture this dingus if you had a chance” face is aces. I don’t know how this breakup went down but I might be on #TeamGiantExGhost.


Except then she somehow actually chains them up. Guys, I think the rockin’ out only made her angrier. In fact, some questions about this breakup are really clearing up. She’s not like, a totally evil ghost, though. Just a “chain you loosely enough so that you flail about pathetically for my own amusement” ghost. I mean, come on, Don.


(I’m not really sure how this whole ghost thing is working, tbh. Like, clearly it’s an emotional ghost rather than the ghost of a deceased loved one. So I’m just imagining this woman, probably named Sally, orchestrating all this from her job at the bank or her aerobics class.)


Thing is though, you can try to chain George Lynch, but you will never chain his guitar prowess. He breaks through through chains with the power of his axe and then frees all his friends. This is who you want on your side in a crisis. Run out of gas in the middle of nowhere? No problem, George’s guitar will power the car. Get lost on a mountain? George’s guitar has GPS. Can we get this man a 3-episode arc on Pretty Little Liars, please?


Side note: We’ve talked a bit about the plight of the instrument-less frontman before. Meet his lesser-known cousin, the drummer-less drummer, and light a candle before you go.

They’re not sure the ghost is gone after George frees them from the basement, so Don asks the rest of the guys to crash for the night. He has nightmares about being re-chained by his love and also about wearing a shortie robe. Ever vigilant, George and the others hear the screaming and come to jolt Don out of his nightmare.


Somehow this seems to work, but just to be safe, they patrol the halls and root cellar, making sure their buddy will able to sleep. Because there is no giant living ghost big enough to break the chains of this friendship.


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