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The Doors – Strange Days – Classic Music Review

The-Doors-Strange-Days

“After ‘Light My Fire,’ people couldn’t get enough of The Doors. Funny, but the two records that really dominated the airwaves during The Summer of Love were Sgt. Pepper and ‘Light My Fire,’ not The San Francisco Sound.”

“So, what happened with Strange Days?”

“Shot up like a rocket and then just sort of floundered. I thought it was a pretty good album, but the first single was ‘People are Strange.’ Nice song but it didn’t have the explosiveness of ‘Light My Fire.’ That was a once-in-a-generation experience that they couldn’t repeat.”

I had called my father to get a better explanation of the strange fate of Strange Days than I’d found in my research. The consensus opinion regarding its relatively lackluster chart performance is that most or all the songs were written before The Doors’ first album, implying that they either weren’t good enough to appear on the first album or that The Doors were just plain lazy.

I think my father’s lens is a bit more insightful, because it clearly identifies the heavy expectations created by their amazing debut. I didn’t grow up with those expectations, and while I think the lyrics on some of the songs on Strange Days are throwaways, I think it’s a better album than the critical consensus would have you believe. It really stands out when compared to the works of many other bands operating in this time period, as I have to admit that more than once I have wished that I’d never had the stupid idea to do a Psychedelic Series, because now I have to live up to my commitment to listen to some of the shittiest shit ever created three fucking times.

Nothing like a mid-series bitch to release some of that good old-fashioned self-imposed pressure!

The Doors were simply a better band than the rest. The performances on Strange Days are exceptional, even when the material is weak. The band is tight, the arrangements clever and well-executed, and Jim Morrison is on fire. Strange Days is also a more unified album than its predecessor, and while it’s hardly a concept album, there is an underlying theme of disconnection from a world that feels strange and distant but still has the power to make us believe that there’s something wrong with us.

The Doors were also different in another sense: they never bought into the “love one another right now” mantra of the hippies. Morrison was definitely more of a “fuck one another right now, and hey, fuck me first” kind of guy. The Doors were expressionists as opposed to impressionists; Rimbaud as opposed to Wordsworth; Edvard Munch as opposed to Peter Max. Jim Morrison had genuine poetic talent and could have done so much more had he been able to deal with his demons.

And how could I not find someone who declared himself “The King of Orgasmic Rock” intensely fascinating? The sheer moxie of such a boast gives me an overwhelming urge to seize one of my favorite whips and start flailing away. I guarantee you, I would have straightened out that boy long before he arrived in Paris to meet his demise.

The title track opens the album, and while it does not qualify as orgasmic, “Strange Days” does create a discomfiting mood right at the start. The eerie organ combines with the Moog to create an ethereal tension heightened by a complex chord pattern that shifts keys three times in the verse, moving from Em to Gm to resolve on E major. The unexpected shifts make it hard for the listener to get settled, reflecting the lyrical content that all was not as cool and mellow in the world as Donovan would have had us believe:

Strange days have found us
Strange days have tracked us down
They’re going to destroy our casual joys
We shall go on playing or find a new town

The rest of the lyrics slip into gibberish territory, but the piece successfully establishes the somber and unsettling mood that dominates the album.

“You’re Lost Little Girl” is an equally moody piece that opens with studio-only bassist Douglass Lubahn playing a rather morose pattern in mid-tempo. The song is dark dream-pop with disappointing, repetitive lyrics that hint that the girl might become un-lost if she gets down and dirty with Jimmy. The mood shifts with “Love Me Two Times,” a rocker with a syncopated pattern that features a great vocal by Morrison, a muscular harpsichord courtesy of Ray Manzarek, and some nice counterpoint guitar from Robby Krieger.

I read that The Doors tried to raise the social significance of “Love Me Two Times” by claiming it’s about a guy tagged for the next shipment of human fodder to Vietnam. I call crapola on that assertion based on the lines “Love me two times, girl/Last me all through the week.” Research indicates that the typical stint in Nam was eighteen months, not a week. By my calculations, the guy would have had to have been fucked 154 times on a single day to get him through his tour of duty. Even with massive transfusions of Viagra, it’s simply impossible to fuck 154 times in a single day, for even if you’re talking about a series of 20-minute quickies with no time for sleep, that would only get you halfway there.

This is the kind of astonishing insight into music that you can only read on altrockchick.com!

Back to Strange Days, next up is “Unhappy Girl,” where Ray Manzarek has a blast on multiple keyboards, including backwards piano. The song is too similar in theme to “You’re Lost Little Girl” to really distinguish itself, but it does have more interesting lyrics. However, the lyrical improvement is nothing compared to the poetry of “Horse Latitudes,” a Jim Morrison theater piece about a sailing ship of old in serious trouble—so serious that they have to toss their horses into the briny deep:

When the still sea conspires an armor
And her sullen and aborted
Currents breed tiny monsters
True sailing is dead
Awkward instant
And the first animal is jettisoned
Legs furiously pumping
Their stiff green gallop
And heads bob up
Poise
Delicate
Pause
Consent
In mute nostril agony
Carefully refined
And sealed over

The background of human groans, screams, dissonant music and warping effects is chilling all by itself, and Morrison’s impassioned delivery paints a picture of true horror as you visualize the poor animals being swallowed by the cold sea. I researched horse latitudes and found that they are subtropical latitudes where the winds virtually die, making sailing rather challenging. It is likely that the Spanish galleons—the ships that traversed those waters to ferry Spaniards on a quest to kill the natives and steal their gold—might have drifted for days and weeks, and had to jettison their horses to preserve water. Jim Morrison’s ability to take that fragment from history and transform it into concrete imagery is truly remarkable, and makes for a very rare listening experience.

The alluring whistle of Robby Krieger’s bottleneck guitar highlights the opening passage of “Moonlight Drive,” a tango-flavored rocker with a testosterone-infused vocal from Morrison that makes my clitoris skip a beat. Robby also gives us a guitar solo where he uses the bottleneck to create some fascinating tonal leaps that sound like the little nipple tweaks I give my partner when we’re on our way somewhere and I want to reaffirm my ever-present desire. The drowning imagery at the end of the song is not a death wish per se, but the use of death as a metaphor for the orgasmic experience. The French have been known to use the term La Petite Mort as a metaphor for the orgasm, or, more accurately, the moment after the orgasm when consciousness hasn’t had time to recover from the jouissance. When you listen to Morrison’s vocal on the fade when he sings about drowning, it sounds like he’s promising both himself and his partner many “little deaths.”

I am so good with that.

“People Are Strange” takes The Doors into cabaret mode with a mood song about those moments of disconnection from humanity that we all experience from time to time in stages of growth or after crushing disappointments. The darker interpretation would explain sick fucks like that asshole who initiated the Isla Vista killings because women wouldn’t give him the time of day; he could have played “People Are Strange” as background music to his murderous rant on YouTube:

People are strange when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone
Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted
Streets are uneven when you’re down

I read on Wikipedia the assertion that Morrison “may have addressed this song . . . to the hippie culture.” This brings up one of the weirder aspects of music criticism in the 1960’s: the search for messages from the “gods” in pop songs. The Beatles in particular were considered gurus who peppered their songs with hidden wisdom for the clueless. While it is true that Lennon was certainly guilty of acts of supreme self-importance, his efforts on that score are hardly disguised: “All You Need Is Love” and “Revolution” are clearly addressed to the faceless masses. I’ve always found the tendency of human beings to hold famous people in awe one of the more troubling aspects of human nature, and to believe that largely uneducated  human beings who are in the business of selling pop records somehow possess greater wisdom than the rest of us . . . well, that just blows my fucking mind. Even those musicians who have written truly timeless lyrics or beautiful music had just as many or more failures to their credit, as is true of all artists, thinkers, scientists, politicians . . . everyone. You want strange? Idolization is the ultimate in strange.

Moving right along, “My Eyes Have Seen You” is another mood song that was written in Ray Manzarek’s parents’ garage way back in 1965, and is probably the dullest song on the album, with repetitive lines filling up the space. It’s followed by “I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind,” a song that combines exotic sounds from the Far East, a touch of psychedelia and a bit of Brazil with lyrics that hint at something greater but never really get there. The concept of “the faceless girl” is something that we’ll see pop up a few times in this series, an image of fascination and fear that had its roots in the identity crises so many people experienced during the era.

Strange Days ends with the second famous album-ending opus, “When the Music’s Over.” While the poetry here is not quite on the level of “The End,” there are some very powerful lines and a gripping performance by Jim Morrison. Manzarek and drummer John Densmore open the song like they’re warming up to play “Soul Kitchen,” and even Densmore’s sudden drum attack hardly prepares us for Morrison’s bone-shattering scream, one that ranks right up there with Roger Daltrey’s outburst on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in terms of intensity and impact. Though they repeat the verse twice to open the song, somehow it feels right to do that to give listeners time to settle in before the grand passage that constitutes the heart of the song. An extended instrumental segment precedes Morrison’s poetry, a whirl of slightly dissonant sounds from Manzarek and Krieger that mark a change in tone. When Morrison comes in, he is in full command, expressing himself in a tone of defiant rejection of conventional notions of life and association:

Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection
Send my credentials to the House of Detention
I got some friends inside

Morrison then seems to pause in a state of ambivalence—of uncertain identity (“The face in the mirror won’t stop”), sexual frustration (“The girl in the window won’t drop”) and the weight of expectations (“A feast of friends, ‘Alive’ she cries/Waitin’ for me outside”). He considers his mortality while longing for sex; the line “I want to hear . . . the scream of the butterfly” is a witty reference to a pornographic murder movie, continuing the death-sex theme of “Moonlight Drive.” He then hears the “gentle sound” of conscience trying to push through doubt and achieve a moment of clarity about the mortal world:

I hear a very gentle sound
Very near yet very far
Very soft, yeah, very clear
Come today, come today

What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences and dragged her down

I hear a very gentle sound
With your ear down to the ground

I’ve always found the “We want the world and we want it now” a cop-out, though; it’s so typical of the baby boomers to make vague and grandiose statements without giving them much thought. And what are you going to do with the world once you have it? Uh, uh—that’s what I thought. The final passage referring to “Persian nights” and “Save us, Jesus, save us” may be ironic references to Mithraism and Christianity, or a genuine desire to experience rebirth . . . with Jim Morrison, it’s often either-both-neither. Hardly exhausted from his poetry recital, Morrison approaches the return to the opening verses with a deep understanding of dramatic rhythms, delivering a climax that throbs with passion and commitment.

Strange Days marked the end of The Doors’ first phase, when they were on top of the world. By the third album they had run out of material and had to rip off The Kinks to get back into the Top 40. The follow-up was even worse, with its overloaded arrangements of strings and horns stripping every ounce of power from the band. They wouldn’t recover their moxie until Morrison Hotel and L. A. Woman . . . but Morrison would never recover from his self-destructive tendencies, and would wind up dead in a Paris bathtub a few months after the final release.

I haven’t mentioned the death toll from the psychedelic period, but as I’m about to review Hendrix and Janis Joplin, I might as well deal with it here. All three—Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin—died at the age of twenty-seven, as did Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. This has led superstitious idiots to believe that there is a “Curse of 27,” a theory thoroughly disproved by a 2012 study conducted by British researchers on the longevity of 1489 rock stars. A summary of the study appeared a few weeks ago in Le Monde (en Français, of course). In addition to destroying the myth surrounding twenty-seven, they found that American musicians tended to croak off a bit sooner than others, and that the leading cause of death had to do with drug and alcohol abuse.

Duh.

I really have very little sympathy with those who choose to eschew the virtues of moderation and indulge in excessive use of mind-altering, addictive substances like booze, smack, acid or cocaine. I do not consider them victims of anything except their own poor risk management skills and their inability to deal with the existential pain that is a part of every life. Yes, I drink and I smoke but I do so in moderation. I consciously accept the risks and expect no sympathy if I kick the bucket from the use of either tobacco or alcohol. I don’t look at these artists as “tragic figures.” They were human beings who did some very dumb things or chose to wimp out and avoid the challenges of growing up.

I would have made a really lousy hippie.

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The Doors – The Doors (album) – Classic Music Review

the doors

A masterful display of orgasmic rock. Click to buy.

I put The Doors on the back burner because I knew I couldn’t do them justice without my dad.

Since moving to France five months ago, my parents had remained in far-off San Francisco readying for their retirement move to Nice. They could have sold the house in about 30 minutes, but my father is one of those people who has a hard time letting go of anything he built or nurtured back to health, be it houses or wounded birds. He did finally manage to pry his psychological fingers from his life’s work with the help of my mother, who told him he wouldn’t get any until he got off his ass and made it happen.

They’re both in their sixties and still fuck like rabbits, the dears.

Anyway, they finally arrived in late August and began setting up house in Nice a few blocks from my grandmother’s house. Thanks to this fucking big important piece of shit job I have, I was stuck on a business trip for what seemed like years and only managed to pop down to Nice late last week, where my partner and I spent a long and lovely weekend with them. I knew two things going in: that the house would be in a general state of disarray with unopened boxes everywhere, and that the first thing my dad would have unpacked would have been his massive music collection.

Sure enough, with the help of more voltage transformers than I knew existed, he was up and running and his entire collection of vinyl and compact discs was neatly lined up in alphabetical order on shelves crafted by his own two hands, covering a good part of three walls from floor to ceiling. Of course, he was still living out of a suitcase and about to run out of clean undies, but this is a man who knows his priorities! Large pillows covered the floor, so the four of us stretched out one lazy Saturday with several bottles of wine while my dad took us through the entire output of The Doors, bootlegs included.

It was a fascinating experience, because even if you don’t care for their music, you have to admit that no one sounds like The Doors. Even when they’re doing old blues numbers they have a singular sound and an undeniable presence. I haven’t decided how many of their albums I’m going to cover, but since they are so intriguing, I’m sure I’ll do more than one. We’ll start with the first and see where we go from there.

The Doors first album almost shouts, “WE HAVE ARRIVED, PEOPLE!” First impressions do count for something, and they couldn’t have picked a better opener than “Break on Through (To the Other Side).” Its disarming bossa nova opening is countered almost immediately by Jim Morrison’s commanding voice; 30 seconds later the band gives you four deep thrusts before ramping up to bash mode in the chorus. With a superb sense of erotic dynamics, they turn down the heat to deliver a few more teasing caresses, then thrust-thrust (breathe) thrust-thrust and they’re slamming it home again.

There’s a reason why they say The Doors invented “orgasmic rock.”

The historically fascinating aspect to the song has to do with censorship. My dad played the original vinyl first where the line after “Everybody loves my baby” is “She get.” He then played a post-90’s CD where the line is magically transformed into “She gets high.”

I looked at my father with a combination of wonder and disgust. “You have to be kidding. They censored that?”

“Oh yeah. The straights were stoked up and paranoid about the drug culture. Druggies were the communists under the bed in the 60’s. Dangerous subversives out to destroy the American way of life.”

That made me laugh, since nearly everyone I know in America today is addicted to one prescription drug or another. I had him play the original again and though I thought the censorship was absurd, I liked the song better with the truncated line. It leaves things ambiguous, allowing the listener to fill in the blank. She get . . . hot. She get . . . fucked.  She get . . .

The song also allows the band to strut their musical stuff. John Densmore is fabulous with the shifts from Brazilian to thrash and Robby Krieger executes a Paul Butterfield-influenced riff with surprising precision. Ray Manzarek is one of the few organists I actually enjoy, for he played with a clipped, rhythmic style that’s so much cleaner than the big organ sound you hear in people like Lee Michaels.

I’m going to resist the temptation to analyze the differences in organist styles from a penile insecurity angle and move on to Morrison.

“Command” is the first descriptive word I used for Jim Morrison, which may seem like an odd word for a person who was unable to control either alcohol or drug addiction. Somehow he generally managed to put all that aside when delivering a performance (at least on record—my dad said he was a wild card when it came to live performances). His melodic range may have been limited, but his dynamic range is unparalleled, as we will see throughout this album. Mastery of dynamics is a tricky thing; often when singers attempt to lower the volume and ramp it back up it can sound contrived. Jim Morrison had the skills of a trained stage actor when it came to dynamics; each line he delivers is often a product of discipline and patience. Given his fairly fucked-up personality as manifested in his private life, I wouldn’t have wanted to fuck the real Morrison, but I don’t mind fantasizing about fucking the guy I hear singing.

It’s also fairly obvious that his singing style influenced Kurt Cobain’s. I wouldn’t have wanted to fuck him either.

“Soul Kitchen” is an ode to one of Morrison’s favorite restaurants, and here the lyrics come to the fore. The Doors’ lyrics are often full of surprising words and phrases you don’t expect to hear in popular music, and their expressionistic world-view led to some very memorable imagery:

The cars crawl past all stuffed with eyes
Street lights share their hollow glow
Your brain seems bruised with numb surprise
Still one place to go, still one place to go . . .

Well, your fingers weave quick minarets
Speak in secret alphabets
I light another cigarette
Learn to forget, learn to forget . . .

“Soul Kitchen” is one of five tracks that feature a real bass player. The Doors were very unusual in not having a regular bass player; Ray Manzarek handled most of the bottom on the keyboard. I tend to like bass presence, but I noticed very few patches that felt thin to me.

“The Crystal Ship” is probably the most sixties-ish song on the album in terms of its trippy-spacey feel and vague symbolism, but somehow Morrison makes it work with a sensual, deeply romantic delivery. In the quiet verses his voice is that of the enthralled lover, lost in the magic of intimacy as he and his amour drift to a comforting sleep:

Before you slip into unconsciousness
I’d like to have another kiss
Another flashing chance at bliss
Another kiss, another kiss

This was the only song on the record that my dad tried to sing along to and my mother and I demanded that he cease and desist after one verse.

There’s no other word to describe “Twentieth Century Fox” except hot. What makes it hot for me is that in the hands of almost any other band, the lyrics would probably have been throwaways. The Doors make the song so much more enticing by displaying playful wit and clever turns of a phrase—“Well, she’s fashionably lean/And she’s fashionably late” and “No tears, no fears, no ruined years, no clocks.” I love men who play with language . . . I’ve found a direct correlation between language play and sexual play. Men in possession of wit don’t just stick it in and try to show me what big dumb studs they are through repetitive hammering. They vary the dynamics; they play.

This is turning into a very erotic post. Blame The Doors, not me. I’m simply an innocent victim of orgasmic rock.

We will temporarily leave the erotic as The Doors turn the composition duties over to Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill for “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar).” My research led me to discover that the unusual instrument in this song is something called a Marxophone, a zither without frets that looks like an alien autoharp. It’s not an instrument for general use, but it’s absolutely perfect here, giving the song a Central European feel that’s very Brechtian indeed. From a therapeutic perspective, this is not the song I would have recommended for a singer with a drinking problem, and listening to it with that knowledge makes it rather sad instead of pleasantly boozy.

Next comes “Light My Fire,” certainly one of the most iconic songs in rock history, and one of the few that deserves that status. From a structural perspective, the piece is brilliant, with a perfect mix of unity and variation. All of the performances by the band are balls-on perfect. Lyrically, it breaks the mold of pop-song limitations . . . which leads me to the subject of mondegreens.

Wikipedia has a decent article on this linguistic phenomenon, quoting from Sylvia Wright, who invented the term to describe the mishearing of a line in a song that results in new meaning:

When I was a child, my mother used to read aloud to me from Percy’s Reliques, and one of my favorite poems began, as I remember:

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl O’ Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

The actual fourth line is And laid him on the green. Wright explained the need for a new term:

The point about what I shall hereafter call mondegreens, since no one else has thought up a word for them, is that they are better than the original.

When we lived in San Francisco, a Chronicle columnist by the name of Jon Carroll wrote frequently about mondegreens, citing various examples from pop music. “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy” is a classic Hendrix mondegreen with intriguing meaning indeed. How it all came up with The Doors is that my dad confessed to a mondegreen he’d been cherishing for years in “Light My Fire.” First, my dad’s mondegreen:

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
And I’d love to come with you up higher.

And now the real lyrics:

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
And our love become a funeral pyre.

I howled with laughter when he told me this. “But dad, that doesn’t make any fucking sense! Come with you up higher? What the fuck is that?” With a sheepish grin he said, “I don’t know—I thought it was some tricky sex position I didn’t know about.” Here my mother interrupted us. “Is that why you tried to do me while I was doing the bridge pose?” she said, referring to a common yoga position. His face reddened and he muttered, “Probably.”

Bridge-Pose-505x336

The bridge pose. It would work because like me, my mother never wears underwear unless physiologically necessary.

I let him off the hook by observing that many mondegreens occur when the songwriter uses unexpected phrases—in this case, “funeral pyre.” We discussed a few more examples before my dad snapped his fingers and said, “You know what—I’ll bet you never heard the single version.” I racked my brain but couldn’t recall. “No, I’ll bet you haven’t because I only played the 45’s when I had a reason to, and I don’t remember playing it for you.” He popped a 45 adapter on the spindle, pulled out the ancient technology from a well-weathered sleeve and popped it on the turntable.

I screamed at the part where they cut the long instrumental passage, the kind of scream that a mother would make when she discovered that someone had stolen her baby. That long passage featuring leads from Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger is a musical passage in which I love to lose myself, and I adore how they weave the themes up to the build that returns us to the main riff. Even better, it leads to Jim Morrison’s performance on the final verse and chorus, which is one of my favorite vocal performances ever. He starts by sticking close to the melody, then begins to vary from the line with increasing frequency, moving from slight note changes on the word “fire” to raising the melody to the next higher harmonic, all while gradually building up the tone in his voice from semi-detached to one that is full of passion and desire. Total command, total discipline, totally fucking hot.

At this point I was ready for a “Back Door Man,” in either the literal meaning (the guy sneaking in at the back door to give the lady of the house some relief from a dull husband) or the oil-it-up inference. Morrison sounds like he’s getting undressed in this one, oiled with liquor and lube and ready to take the first hot bitch that walks into the studio. While I do love Willie Dixon’s more charming original, Morrison’s presence makes for a body-grinding delight.

Now I was ready to say to hell with my parents and start doing my partner on the living room floor, but The Doors rescued me from excessive taboo-breaking with three filler songs in a row: “I Looked at You,” “End of the Night” and “Take It As It Comes.” All are rather dull and derivative, like they’d run out of gas and started recycling passages from the first seven tracks. They might have been advised to do a 20-minute version of “The End” instead.

“The End” is one of the two very long album-closing epics they used to wrap up their first two albums. My personal preference is for the second, “When the Music’s Over” from Strange Days. This led to a lengthy argument with my father, who violently prefers “The End.” In an attempt to sway me, he played the original vinyl version and two bootleg copies in which Morrison clears up any ambiguity in the line, “Mother . . .  I want to (unintelligible).” “Mother . . . I want to rape/fuck you” is what I heard on the two different bootleg versions.

Unimpressed, I argued that “The End” is an over-extended version of a breakup song with an Oedipal overlay, exaggerating a bit just to piss him off. My dad became rather schoolmasterish and attempted to connect the significance of the song to both the generational divide of the 1960’s and the Jungian process of individuation.

“So, you’re saying that for me to have become who I am, I had to kill you and maman in a symbolic sense,” I remarked with an irritating smirk on my face and in my tone.

“Yes, you did. You would have had to, one way or another,” he argued.

“Well, I didn’t. I grew from the oaks without having to chop them down. So whaddya say to that, buster?”

He narrowed his eyes and said, “Then you must have killed us in a dream sometime—it had to happen. We must kill our parents to move forward.”

My mother stepped in and suggested that there are many paths to growth and that he was being too dogmatic.

“Thank you, maman—and just to clarify—if you weren’t my mother, I would want to fuck you.”

She laughed and said, “I’m so relieved to know that ma chère fille is psychologically normal.”

I don’t mean to diminish the song at all. From a dramatic perspective, it’s a killer performance. Out of all the analyses I’ve read regarding “The End,” the most perceptive came down to a simple comment from Ray Manzarek: “He was re-enacting a bit of Greek drama. It was theatre!” It’s obvious that Morrison’s poetic intentions were successful, since the four of us had a lively debate about the meaning of the song that was very engaging and informative. The point isn’t whether or not you “like” something—it’s more important that art moves you, makes you feel, makes you think. In that sense, “The End” certainly qualifies as a work of art.

My dad and I did agree on one thing: that the Indian feel of Robby Krieger’s guitar intro on “The End”  was a direct descendant of Mike Bloomfield’s work in “East-West.” I thought it was rather respectful of the master and of Indian influence in general; my dad was more teed off about it because East-West is sacred to him. My beautiful partner, who had been watching us play intellectual tennis all day with intense fascination, saved us from another lengthy debate by saying, “I love how the two of you are such wonderful friends!” We both looked at her in surprise, then laughed, then my dad and I had a good long hug. “I love you, asshole,” I told him. “I love you too, you little bitch,” he replied.

We spent the rest of the day and early evening listening to the rest of the catalog, all of which I found endlessly fascinating even when I didn’t care for what I was hearing. It’s always educational to go back and forth between the beginnings of a band and their later works to see the developmental path, whether it’s moving from Please Please Me to Sgt. Pepper or from This Was to Songs from the Wood. The Doors’ progression was more zig-zaggy than straight ahead, for in many ways, what they accomplished on this first album could never be recaptured: the freedom of creation without expectations. Jim Morrison didn’t have to live up to being Jim Morrison. For that reason, The Doors is their most playful and exuberant album, and certainly one of the best début albums in rock history.

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