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Fun Fact: Val Kilmer can kiss my ass.
Filed between: Donovan and Dave Dudley.
Break on Through, Soul Kitchen, The Crystal Ship, Twentieth Century Fox, Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar), Light My Fire, Back Door Man, I Looked at You, End of the Night, Take It as It Comes, The End
My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
REQUIRED LISTENING (4/4 stars.) Seriously, if you haven't heard every song on this record, you owe it to yourself to check them out.
"Can you picture what will be - so limitless and free?"
This time around, I’m gonna be that guy. We all know that guy – the unapologetic, diehardcore superfan who is so into a band that he drives you crazy – and we all hate him. Granted, I’m not as much of a that guy as some people I have met. I don’t hold a séance on Jim’s birthday every Halloween to try and raise his spirit. (That’s not even his real birthday anyway.) I don’t use the word “shaman” every time I mention Morrison. And I don’t buy into all that “doors of perception” malarkey. But I do love this band deeply. Me and this band go way back.
Our town had three radio stations when I was a kid – classic country, pop and oldies. My dad always kept it dialed in to the oldies, so I’ve been listening to The Doors since before I can remember.
Then (as a surefire way to get anyone into something), I was warned away from The Doors. Our pastor delivered a sermon once about the perils of rock and roll in which he lambasted Hello, I Love You for its free love implications. I find it laughable now that he singled out one of the band’s most innocuous songs. If he had dug a little deeper, he would have discovered Morrison’s penchant for provocative subject matter that ranged from oral sex to Oedipal fetishism to his own genetalia.
And then my cousin burned me a copy of the greatest hits. I heard long, weird, crazy songs that dwelled in dark cellar corners – out of the sunlight of radio. I played that thing to death. So much so, that whenever I hear Break on Through on the radio I expect Light My Fire to immediately follow and then the rest of disc one to play in its entirety. But it never does because it is a sad, sad world in which we live.
And as that guy, let me just say…
First of all - yeah, I bought his book of poems - both of 'em. Piss off.
Secondly, kudos to Elektra for never pushing I Looked at You or Take It as It Comes as singles. They’re both good songs, but they’re very un-Doors-like and they’re exactly the surfer-stoner-hippy tripe that was dominating the airwaves at the time.
Thirdly, it takes great stones (and also speaks volumes about the band) to cover songs written by both Bertolt Brecht (Alabama Song) and Big Willie Dixon (Back Door Man) on a debut album – not to mention appropriating a line from William Blake and lifting the band name from Aldous Huxley. And The Doors were all about stones. In fact, they seem like the band The Stones wanted to be in 1967 – top-40 driven with a distinct underscore of legitimate danger. But where The Stones sometimes felt like they were pushing the look-how-real-we-are mentality, The Doors seemed to slide on that grittiness like a well-worn glove.
Lastly, I want to expressly state that I have never tried hallucinogens or psychedelic drugs, but from what I’ve heard it sounds exactly like the experience I have every time I lose my self in any Doors’ record. I used to believe in Emerson’s transcendental current absolutely. Sometimes, I wish I still did. But I do still catch murky reflections of it in certain music. And it always happens during The End. That song is pure transcendence. You can’t listen to it shuffled on your iPod. You can’t listen to it on the radio. You have to listen to it like it was allegedly recorded – in a dark, quiet place with a single candle burning. It may take a few tries. It may take a LOT of tries. But it’s worth it, I swear. Once you are able release yourself to that, do the same with the whole LP.
Although I am that guy, I am a self-aware that guy. I know that there’s nothing I can say or do to bring around the myriad masses who either don’t love or actively hate the Doors. I’ve tried. Like a crazy streetcorner prophet I’ve tried. But to no avail. And that makes me honestly sad for those folks because they’re missing out on beautiful, dark magic.
So, is it an album? Yes. The weirdness of it all is the glue that keeps it together. That, and Robby Krieger.
Up next, a radical paradigm shift with "Mountain Music" by Alabama.