Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Doors

“Think of us as erotic politicians”
-Jim Morrison

The Doors, composed of keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, drummer John Densmore, and vocalist Jim Morrison. Released their self-titled debut album on Elektra Records in January 1967. In the forty plus years since, it has become one of the most influential debut albums in rock history.

The album opens with the track Break On Through (To The Other Side). An up tempo straight out rock song that features all the elements of what would become the Doors sound. Driving rhythm, catchy guitar riff, poetic lyrics, and an organ solo. Break On Through was the first single released off the album and music video for it was shot and aired on local TV.

The second track on the album is Soul Kitchen, which is tribute to a soul food restraint Jim Morrison used to frequent in Venice Beach, California.

Crystal Ship follows Soul Kitchen. The song is beautiful ode to lost love, that uses imagery from Norse mythology. This possibly one of the most beautiful songs the Doors ever recorded. They once performed the song on American Bandstand.

Twentieth Century Fox is the fourth track on the album. The title is both tribute to Twentieth Century Fox studies and a beautiful woman. The song was supposedly written about Ray Manzarek's wife, Dorthy.

Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) is a cover from Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht famous musical The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.

Light My Fire is the sixth track on the album and quite possibly the most famous Doors song ever. Written by Robbie Krieger, Light My Fire was the song that launched the Doors from just another band from L.A. to global rock stars. The Doors performance of Light My Fire on the Ed Sullivan show would also be another moment of myth making in the bands history. After agreeing to alter the lyrics for their live performance on the show, the band went ahead and included the much feared word “higher”, infuriating Sullivan's producer and getting them a lifetime ban from ever performing on the show again.

Back Door Man, the seventh song on the album is a cover of the Willie Dixon penned blues song that was most famously recorded by blues legend Howlin' Wolf.

I Looked At You, is probably the weakest song on the album. Both musically and lyrically the song comes off as filler.

End of The Night, is a song of dark romance that contains two distinct literary illusions. The first being in the title which was taken from Louis Ferdinand Celine novel, Journey to The End of the Night. The song also contains the couplet, Some are born to sweet delight/ Some are born to the endless night, which was taken from William Blake's poem, Auguries of Innocence.

Take It As It Comes, was written as an off the cuff tribute to Ray, John, and Robby's meditation instructor, and much like I Looked At You, feels like filler in comparison to the rest of the album.

The Doors self-titled debut album concludes with the most complex and surreal song in the entire bands pantheon. The End is a nearly twelve minute piece of rock theater that the band played to perfection night after night at the Whiskey A Go Go. The song would become a thing of great myth as the decades passed. The story goes, that Morrison missed the bands first set one night at the Whiskey because he was loaded on acid and was hiding out in a motel room. The band managed to track him down and get him to the Whiskey in time for their second set. The show went off without a hitch until the band began The End. On this night, the band and the rest of the patrons, would be introduced to a new verse of the song. Morrison, would resurrect the drama of Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, by inserting the lines “Father, I want to kill you/ Mother I want to fuck you all night.” The band would be fired from the Whiskey for this but it mattered little because the band had been signed by Elektra Records recently and the incident would be another great mythical moment in rock history.

An interesting note on this album is that if you listen to it from beginning to end on continuous loop, you discover that the album is actually circular, in the sense that The End leads back in to Break on Through, which gives the album a feelings of continuous death and rebirth, much in the same way as James Joyce's novel Finnegan's Wake.

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