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Posts Tagged ‘The Doors’


Back to the 60’s!

Still in the 60’s.

TheDoorsTheDoorsalbumcover.jpgOne of the CavBrothers listened to The Doors. Eventually I borrowed the compilation, Dark Scenes Inside the Gold Mine. I was hooked. The Doors had a unique sound that clicked with me. As a teenager I’d come home from school, put them on and take a nap. I read Sugarman’s biography of Morrison, No One Gets Out of Here Alive, a 3 or 4 times while in high school and college. Even though he’d been dead for over a decade, Morrison’s magnetism pulled me in. Disturbed and prone to excess, he lived a life this messed up teenager wanted to live (and I’m not glad I didn’t). I still like their music, particularly the interplay between Manzarek’s organ (often invoking the sounds of an amusement park) and Krieger’s guitar. It is a common formula for me, evidenced by my love for Deep Purple because of Blackmore and Lord. Morrison was not as good as a singer as Gillan, but he was obviously a much better lyricist.

I didn’t see The Doors when it came out in 1991. I’m not sure why. Val Kilmer was one of my favorite actors, and Meg Ryan one of my favorite actresses. It came out “too late”, after I’d become a Christian and no longer attracted to Morrison’s excess. I started to watch it not too long ago. Kilmer did an incredible job. The problem, from my perspective, was Oliver Stone. His manner of storytelling got in the way.

A few years ago I bought their first album, The Doors, during one of those Amazon Black Friday deals. It has held up amazingly well. For me, that is still their best album. The others were a bit inconsistent due to the pressure to produce. My next favorite would be the final album, the moody L.A. Woman.

The album begins with a classic, but all too short, introduction to the band- Break On Through (to the Other Side). It remains one of their better songs. It was released as their first single, but was unsuccessful. The “she gets high” line was removed from the single thinking it would discourage radio play. Densmore has been into bossa nova music and used a bossa nova rhythm for the song. With Krieger’s Paul Butterfield-influenced guitar and Manzarek’s Ray Charles-influenced keyboards it made for a very interesting mix behind Morrison’s psychedelic lyrics. It just all works beautifully. The original version would later become a staple of classic rock radio.

Next is the very different Soul Kitchen. It is a Morrison version of a love song. Then things get weird with The Crystal Ship. They move into 20th Century Fox about the modern woman before one of the two covers, The Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar). Originally part of an opera, they changed some of the lyrics. They would not be the last band to cover this song, and I’m not sure why. This is one of the weakest songs on the album.

But the next song is the one that made them famous: Light My Fire. It is their most famous song. A shortened version was released as a single. This was the song that got them banned from The Ed Sullivan Show after they agreed to change the line “girl we couldn’t get much higher”, but then Morrison played it anyway. They didn’t have enough material so Morrison encouraged other band members to write some songs. Robby Krieger wrote this one. Clocking in over 7 minutes it contains some great extended instrumental sections.

The next song is another cover, Back Door Man. This is a reference to the person you cheat with, having to sneak in and out of the back door. It is an old blues standard. But it fits Morrison’s philandering ways. It works much better than the other cover.

Like the first side, you hit a trio of lesser songs: I Looked at You, End of the Night and Take it As it Comes. These are not bad songs, but can’t match the peaks of the beginning, middle and the end. Literally, The End which builds tension for 10 minutes. Morrison was essentially stream of consciousness moving through the apparent pain of his childhood. At one point he claimed it was about the end of childhood. It is dark. It is strange. It climaxes in oedipus fury. Coppola featured the song in Apocalypse Now. It is a dark masterpiece.

This is quintessential Doors. Quintessential rock ‘n’ roll. It isn’t for everyone but I still appreciate the disturbed genius of this album. It wouldn’t be the last time I appreciated disturbed genius.

 

 

 

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In the 80’s I was a big fan of the Doors.  Yes, I got on the band wagon well after Jim Morrison’s death.  I read Danny Sugarman’s biography, No One Gets Out of Here Alive, twice in high school and college.  I first heard them through my older brother.  That is one of the joys of having older siblings.  They exposed me to all kinds of great music, including the Doors.

They had a unique sound that was hypnotic.  It really was like Morrison cast a spell on the listeners.  Krieger’s guitar sound was unlike anyone else’s at the time, sounding like a strange, dark carnival.  After I became a Christian I started to listen to them less.  Some of the songs were just too dark and disturbing.  What drew me in as a teen apart from Christ began to turn me off as one in Christ.

But, when I saw the documentary When You’re Strange was available on Netflix for streaming, I figured I’d watch.  It was strange.  Johnny Depp was probably the best choice to be the narrator.  Val Kilmer may have been a good choice too (I never saw the movie, but now that may change).  But Depp has a strange sort of charisma like Morrison.

The documentary blends old footage of Morrison and the band to tell the story of the Doors.  It is fascinating in many ways.  It is confusing in others.  There is footage that recurs about a man similar to Morrison (could be him for all I know).  It didn’t connect with the story line.  I kept wondering if this was supposed to be Jim’s new life after faking his death in Paris.  They never said.

It was interesting to hear some of the background information about the songs.  For some reason I didn’t realize they never had a real national toward.  Morrison blew that apart the first night in Miami.  I’m still not sure why he was allowed to leave the country while his felony case was under appeal.  There was one last burst of creative activity before his death that resulted in on of their best albums- L.A. Woman.  When you consider they released 6 albums in less than 5 years it is amazing to consider how productive they were (especially since spent 11 months making one of them).

This live footage from Europe demonstrates how they had to cover for his antics.  And their incredible musicianship.  I wonder at times if Bono has studied Morrison to learn about showmanship, just without the mind altering substances.  Like Morrison he was not a trained singer, and not known for a great voice.  But both displayed a mastery of bringing people into an experience.

Morrison was a conflicted man.  He loved and craved the attention.  Yet he wanted to be free.  He repeatedly wanted to walk away from it all.  His drug and alcohol abuse made life increasingly difficult for the rest of the band.  You have to wonder, if there was someone wanting to fake his death, it would be Morrison.

While the movie was interesting there are certain realities regarding rock stars, particularly during the 60’s.  The various footage includes plenty of profanity and some nudity- both male and female.  It is for adult audiences, not interested teen-aged fans.

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