Friday, February 25, 2011

Ladies and Gentelmans THE DOORS!

From their beginnings during the summer of 1965 at Venice Beach, California, The Doors were truly aband, a remarkable fusion of creative energies, a lot of attention has been focused on Jim Morrison which his looks and talents clearly justify. However, Jim was well aware that the magic of The Doors could never havehappened without the fortunate forging of John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison into a single creative whole. It is no mystery why Jim Morrison never went solo; so sympathetic were the three other musicians to Jim's mission that such a consideration was out of the question. Robby Krieger, or example, was able to write lyrics and music that sounded more like Morrison than Morrison himself-- among them "Light My Fire," "Love Me Two Times,"and "Love Her Madly." Without Krieger, Manzarek and Densmore there is a strong chance that Jim's songs would never have made it off the page, into rehearsal, onto the stage, into the recording studio and, in defiance of all odds, to successive g
enerations who have since discovered The Doors as a "new" group.

Ray Manzarek, a classically trained pianist, raised in Chicago with a deep love for the blues, wrote the themes for many of the songs and played not only the keyboard parts but simultaneously (with his left hand) propelled the band with melodic driving bass lines. John Densmore, a jazz drummer with an unbeatable knack for shamanic rhythm and theatrical timing... the band's tireless engine. Robby Krieger, a songwriting secret weapon who could play any guitar, from classic flamenco to bottle-neck blues, to creating styles and sounds previously unheard on this planet. And Jim Morrison, the baritone, eclectic/electric poet with an innate compositional gift and the soul of a mystic. Together these men brought The Doors' songs to life, they were equal points of a musical diamond.

The band took its name from the poet-visionary-artist William Blake, who had written, "When the doors of perception are cleansed, things will appear to man as they truly are...infinite." English author Aldous Huxley was sufficiently inspired by Blake's quote to title his book on mescaline experiences The Doors of Perception. Morrison was so connected to both works that he proposed, The Doors, to his bandmates. Everyone agreed that the name, as well as the inspiration from which it sprang, was perfect to convey who they were and clearly representive for what they stood for. The group was signed to Elektra Records, then a small folk-music record company, in July of 1966 by Jac Holzman, Elektra's founder.

By April 1971, The Doors had recorded six landmark studio LP's and a two -record set of live performances, the first seven discs with producer Paul A. Rothchild and the last one co-produced by The Doors and their career-long engineer Bruce Botnick... both The Doors and Elektra had grown into world famed institutions. The band's unstated goal was to accomplish musical alchemy, to fuse rock music with both existential poetry and improvisational theater. Jim was greatly influenced by the nineteenth century poet Arthur Rimbaud and he dutifully imparted Rimbaud's philosophy to the group. Rimbaud advocated a systematic "rational derangement of all the senses in order to achieve the unknown."

Morrison was a man who would not, could not, and did not know how to compromise himself or his art. He was driven to go all the way or die trying, the ultimate ecstatic risk taker. Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore's contribution to this state of creative ecstasy cannot be underestimated. In order for the musical spell to be successfully cast they gave willingly and generously, the power of improvisation that drove Morrison onstage required the other three Doors to not merely play arrangements but to follow Jim's unplanned creative arc perfectly in one of the music's classic and most difficult feats, the art of intuitive accompaniment. Statement to the press, "For me, it was never really an act, those so-called performances.

It was a life-and-death thing, an attempt to communicate, to involve many people in a private world of thought." During the late 1960's bands sang of love and peace while acid was passed out. But for The Doors it was different. The nights belonged to Pan and Dionysus, the gods of revelry and rebirth, and the songs invoked their potent passions, the Oedipal nightmare of "The End," the breathless gallop of "Not to Touch the Earth," the doom of "Hyacinth House," the ecstasy of "Light My Fire," the dark uneasy undertones of "Can't See Your Face in My Mind," and the alluring loss of Consciousness in "Crystal Ship." And as with Dionysus, The Doors willingly offered themselves as a sacrifice to be torn apart, to bleed, to die, to be reborn for yet another night in another town. To be a poet meant more to Morrison than writing poems. It meant embracing the tragedy fate has chosen for you and fulfilling that destiny with gusto and nobility.

In the end, after conquering America, after being shackled by the courts and laws of the land that he loved, he escaped to Paris, traditional home of so many expatriate artists, to pursue his life as a poet. But his body was too worn down, his heart too weak; he had already seen and done and drunk too much. He had lived life on his own terms, had reaped the rewards, and now the bill was due. His spirit was tired. Death was simply closer and easier than returning to America, to the endless succession of stages it demanded. Jim Morrison passed away in Paris on July 3, 1971. His dying wish was to be remembered as a poet.

Pamela Morrison used to tell a story from the very earliest day of The Doors. They were playing their first club, The London Fog. It was their last set of the night and there were only three people in the club, two drunks and Pamela. The band was incandescent. Jim raged and exploded with super-human passion, a transcendent performance. Pam was stunned. In the car she could say nothing...long after arriving home she was still speechless. Jim asked, "What's wrong baby?" Pam said, "There were three people in the club during the last set. But you burned like you were performing for thousands of people. Why did you go so far, risk so much for a tiny audience that was barely aware of your presence?" Jim looked at her and said slowly, "You never know when you're doing your last set." Considering the force of energy generated by The Doors over 25 years ago, that "last set" could well be several generations away.