Say whatever you will about the bloated, drunk-ass poet wannabe that Jim Morrison died as. But in his original heyday, the Lizard King was one badass mo-fo. And the Doors self-titled 1967 debut album remains — along with those of Led Zeppelin and the Jimi Hendrix Experience — one of rock and roll's all-time best.
I still have a very clear recollection of my first exposure (no, not that kind) to the Doors. I was in sixth grade living in the tiny town of Port Angeles, Washington when I first heard "Light My Fire" on our little AM station KONP. There were a lot of really amazing things I heard on the radio that particular summer — Sgt. Pepper and the Beach Boys "Good Vibrations" not the least among them — which would eventually ruin me pretty much for life.
But the Doors really stood out.
There was just something really intoxicating, hypnotic — and dare I say it, kinda dangerous — about the combination of Jim Morrison's dark as night vocals, and Ray Manzarek's dizzy as a freaking carnival keyboards.
Don't ask me why, but for this impressionable young tyke it just really worked. But damn if Morrison didn't almost immediately lead me into sin…
Not long after hearing that damn song on the radio, I was at this school sponsored carnival (there's your Doors connection right there), when I happened to see this girl about my age leave her purse unattended. As the words "Thou Shalt Not Steal" I had learned in my strict Christian upbringing thundered in my brain (and may you Rest In Peace Chuck Heston), I also heard the devilish voice of Jim Morrison taunting me.
He was saying things like, "finders keepers right?"
"The Killer awoke before dawn…"
So I grabbed her purse, hopped on my bike, and immediately high-tailed it down to Swain's General Store (where in 1967 P.A., they had everything you could ever want as a thirteen year old) to buy the Doors album with my stolen (or "found" as I then rationalized it) loot.
Hot damn! I guess that's why they called him Mr. Mojo Rising.
What I soon found when I slapped that precious piece of vinyl on my fifty dollar turntable was that "Light My Fire" was merely the tip of the iceberg. Though I had no idea what such songs meant at the time (and thank God for that in the case of "The End"), I soon found myself lost in songs like "The Crystal Ship," "Back Door Man," and of course, "Whiskey Bar."
Like I said, Morrison and the Doors — like the Beatles, the Stones, and Dylan before them — had perfectly ruined this young, impressionable lad for life. Blame them, not me okay?
And that is why this DVD is so damned cool. Because, all of these years later in the infinite years of worldly knowledge I would like to think I have since gained, I can now finally learn just how and why these four evil musical alchemists from L.A. led me into such a life of ruin and sin.
Live footage and interviews with those who witnessed the creation of this landmark album — including the surviving band members Kreiger, Densmore, and Manzarek, and engineer Bruce Botnick and manager Bill Siddons nearly complete the picture here. When you add in discussions with those influenced by this album — guys like Perry Farrell and Henry Rollins — it becomes as close to providing the whole story as you will ever get.
At least it helped me make a little more sense of it. Which translates here into just why this music so intoxicated me so long ago. Like the song says, "the men don't know, but the little girls understand."
In this case, you can count at least one little boy among those who did indeed.
Eagle Rock's Classic Albums Series: The Doors, will be in stores on April 22.