Tag Archives: The Doors

50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 38

Rolling Stone issue #38 had a cover date of July 26, 1969. 40 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of Jim Morrison.

Features: “The Rolling Stone Interview: Jim Morrison” by Jerry Hopkins; “Crashers, Cops, Producers Spoil Newport ’69” by Jerry Hopkins; “Bringing it all Back Home” by Peter Giraudo; “Fuzz Against Junk: The Saga of the Narcotics Brigade, Installment Six” by Akbar Del Piombo.

News: “Columbia to Stay Above Ground”; “Grateful Dead Ungrateful; Sued”; “Tibet In The West” by Charles Perry; “Now the Action’s At People’s Pad”; “A Move to Curb Cambridge Rock” by Dennis Metrano; “Artists Get a Bright Idea”; “Big Joe Williams: Soul on His Face” by Don Roth; “Our Astronaut”; “Denver Festival: Mace with Music” by Jim Fouratt; “Christ, They Know It Ain’t Easy” by Ben Fong-Torres; “Hendrix Charged: Smack, Hash”; “Festivals” (first mention of Woodstock: “Twelve hours of music each, on August 16th and 17th…in upstate Wallkill, New York”); “Free Music”. And Random Notes on Phil Spector, marijuana laws, Eric Jacobsen, Moby Grape, English militant socialists, Sammy Davis, Jr. (“who is the sort of black man who makes you think it must be some kind of optical illusion”). Jann’s casual racism is something else, isn’t it?

Continue reading 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 38

Return of the Village Green Preservation Society

As I am someone who has long enjoyed the music of the Kinks and the Doors, you might think that I would be over the proverbial moon with the recent announcements—one iffier than the other—that (1) the Kinks are reuniting and (2) there is a 50th anniversary version of Waiting for the Sun coming out this September.

As for the first, Sir Ray Davies (must give the man his propers) told the BBC that he was getting the band back together to record an album, having been inspired by The Rolling Stones’ recent spate of European concerts. The Kinks were formed in ’64, managed to get banned from touring in the U.S. for four years starting in ’65, and disbanded in ’96. The last bona-fide Kinks album, To the Bone, was released in ’94. In addition to Sir Ray, the band included his brother Dave, Mick Avory, and Pete Quaife. Quaife died in 2010. So the reunion would be of a trio, not a quartet.

As for the second, the Doors formed in 1965, and consisted of Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger. Their first album, The Doors, appeared in 1967. Waiting for the Sun was the third album, appearing in 1968. L.A. Woman was their last proper album, as it was released in April 1971 and Jim Morrison died in July of that year.

So while there is certainty that the Doors album will appear, whether the Kinks record or not is something that remains to be heard.

And I hope that they don’t.

Realize that the band hasn’t existed since 1996. That’s 22 years ago. The band itself existed for 32 years, which is a long run by any measure and the body of work that it produced includes some of the best songs of the late 20th century.

Continue reading Return of the Village Green Preservation Society

Questions. One Answer.

As I seem to be on the macabre musical beat, I received an email from a friend of mine who recently saw John Sebastian. (She lives in a small college town in Iowa, so they have some non-arena-filling musicians coming to their burg.)

Some of you may be unfamiliar—so you think—with John Sebastian. He’s the guy who performed “Welcome Back,” the theme song for “Welcome Back, Kotter” (which I guarantee is now an ear worm for many of you.)

Now you know who he is.

Some of you will be familiar with “Summer in the City,” the song that’s pulled out for its driving beat, especially when it is hot outside (“back of my neck gettin’ dirty and gritty”). That was Sebastian in The Lovin’ Spoonful, which also had regrettable compositions including “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice.” Seriously, it as saccharine as its title. But back in the ‘60s, not all was Janis stomping.

Sebastian played harmonica on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Déjà Vu. (Apparently pre-Young, he was asked to be part of the band. What line would musical history have taken had he gone that route?)

And some of you will know that Sebastian played harmonica on The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues.” In addition to Morrison Hotel, Sebastian’s harmonica work appears on several songs on the In Concert recording.

Morrison, of course, is dead. Sebastian isn’t. He’s 73.

My friend wrote that he “is a very good guitar player and a GREAT harmonica player. However his voice is gone.”

Continue reading Questions. One Answer.

How about that new Doors song?

Stream: The Doors – “She Smells So Nice”

Seems crazy that they’re still digging up new Doors material, but apparently producer Bruce Botnick discovered this one while preparing the session tapes for L.A. Woman, which is once again being reissued on January 24. Curious that it didn’t turn up when they released the 40th Anniversary remixes in 2007.

Regardless, this is the kind of Doors song I really like. Lyrics aren’t too silly and the band sounds great. Krieger’s blues licks sound perfectly unfussy with Manzarek’s Wurlitzer electric piano giving more of a Ray Charles punch than his signature Vox Continental. Meanwhile, Densmore proves he was the coolest guy in the band.

This recording must just be a warm-up jam while the engineers were adjusting levels, or something, as Morrison’s microphone is overdriven through most of the song. It’s actually nice to hear them to hear them playing this loose and garage-y at this point in their career.

“Can You Find Me Soft Asylum”

The Soft Parade was the fourth album from The Doors. It was released in 1969. Given that ’69 was the year of such releases as Led Zepplin, Kick Out the Jams, Beck Ola, Ramblin’ Gambling Man, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Tommy, and The Stooges, it is somewhat surprising that The Doors had the opportunity for redemption and were able to release Morrison Hotel the following year and hadn’t been driven off into the sketchy concrete wilderness of L.A.

One of the most peculiar cuts on what is a peculiar album is “Touch Me.” It was the first single from the album. And for some odd reason, it became the highest-charting of the singles from The Soft Parade. “Wishful Sinful” is beyond understanding.

At the time of The Soft Parade, The Lizard King was in full bloat, resembling a boa constrictor in full gorge. One can imagine him rolling around in the studio—figuratively, although literally is not something that takes too much imagination—carrying not a long-neck, as would be appropriate for the next album, but a mixed drink. A martini would not be outside the realm of possibility were it that the drink was contained in a glass less shallow and thereby less likely to spill during an inertial turn of mass.

“Touch Me,” with its horns and sweeping, “I’m gonna love you. . .” passages, is a song that would not be inappropriately covered by contemporaries like Michael Buble. Yes, Morrison and Buble.

It has always seemed to me that “Touch Me” as performed by The Doors could be an audition for a months’-long gig at Las Vegas circa right now, had Morrison not gone the way of all flesh at an all-too-early day.

One survivor of that period—who covered Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock” and “All Shook Up” on the aforementioned Beck Ola—, Rod Stewart, has opened an 18-concert series at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

After Stewart overcame his hiding-behind-the-amps shyness, he became quite the performer. And this leads to a question: is there a difference between “a performer” and “an artist”—or perhaps it gives rise to a series of questions, including, is there a continuum of when the artist morphs into a performer, or whether most all of the people that we use “artist” as shorthand for are really performers, and were they not we would not be aware of them. Can anyone listen to the 66-year-old Stewart, who has lived lifestyles of the rich and famous, sing, “Spent some time feelin’ inferior, standing in front of my mirror” and take it at all seriously anymore, or is it simply something that’s about having a laugh?

When Stewart isn’t playing at the venue (all of the shows aren’t sequential; there’s a split), Elton John will be, with a show titled “Million Dollar Piano.” Indeed.

Let’s say the Morrison hadn’t died. That Morrison was playing down the street at The Bellagio. Can we imagine a duet on “What Made Milwaukee Famous” between the two performers? And would it be good?

Video: The Doors – Touch Me

Video: The Faces – Maybe I\'m Amazed

Classic Rot

Classic RockI listen to the signals

That the ancient strangers play

What are they doing here?

Something so familiar to my ear

“Classic Rot” —Dramarama

When Dramarama penned that song for their fourth album Vinyl, I thought for sure that they were making a statement about the state of radio—a swipe at their inability to muscle in to traditional rock stations that were too wrapped up in playing the classic rock tunes of twenty-years prior to consider a band like Dramarama. Ironically, Dramarama is a band so attuned to the rock styling of their ancestors that they should have found a nice home on any classic rock station.

But they weren’t, and that was a drag to me.

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1969 Interview With The Doors

In a 10 minute long interview for the Village Voice, Jim Morrison waxes on the future of electronics while chomping a stogie. The rest of The Doors get their two cents in (but no more) and occasionally look bored or bemused by Jim’s talk. There’s also earlier footage of Morrison at what appears to be a concert for The Who where fans besiege him and reach to touch his hair. It wraps with a friendly talk with a priest. The earlier clips make you realize why pictures of him still gets girls wound up.

1969 Interview With The Doors

The Doors: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

New Weird Al – Craigslist

Video: ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic – “Craigslist”

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Craigslist

“I thought it would be anachronistically weird to have me as Jim Morrison screaming about Craigslist,” Yankovic told Spinner. “That just seemed so completely wrong that I thought I had to do it.”

You have to sit through a 15-second ad before the video will play, but it’s worth it. Not sure if the Doors get songwriting credit, but musically, it’s a perfect pastiche of “Soul Kitchen” and all the Ray Manzarek cliches Al could throw in to one song. Gotta admit that the guitar tone sounds awesome, and Yankovic’s voice sounds so great he might want to consider starting a cover band: Crystal Shit. You’d be really impressed.

Weird Al Yankovic: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki, web.

Buried in the Stars

What do the following have in common?

Bonnie Raitt and Britney Spears

Alice Cooper and Aretha Franklin

Elvis Presley and Engelbert Humperdinck

Carlos Santana and Celine Dion

Lefty Frizzell and Lawrence Welk

John Lennon and Johnny Mathis

Jimi Hendrix and Janet Jackson

Robert Goulet and Rod Stewart

Mitch Miller and Motley Crue

Olivia Newton-John and Ozzy Osbourne

Tom Petty and Tony Orlando

All of these—and many others—all have their “stars” on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This week they were joined by The Doors. Which puts them in the company of the likes of Liberace and Anne Murray.

By the way, if you’ve got a sufficiently convincing story and $25K, you, too, may be able to secure your own star. Yes, a bit more than that outfit that will name a star after you and put it in a book in the patent office, but just imagine. Dogs, bums and other creatures will get to urinate all over you at will. But then again, not all of us are Kenny G, Kenny Loggins or Kenny Rodgers [sic].

Sometimes Reluctant Hookers

Thus Sprach ZarathustraThe John Densmore issue is one that ought to make people stop and think for a moment before proclaiming the fundamental righteousness of the man for holding out against the Empire, as was reported in an LA Times story by Geoff Boucher. That Densmore is unrelenting in his resistance to allowing The Doors music to be used for ads—despite the fact that the other two remaining breathing members of the band, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, want to increase their income through the sales of the commercial use of the band’s songs—may seem laudable, but is not such a simple matter.

Fundamentally, the music of any band or performer tends to be sold in some way, shape, or form, whether it is a piece of ticket for a concert or in the price of a bottle of beer in a bar where a band is playing. Or it is the price paid via iTunes or at a music retailer (bricks and mortar or otherwise). When you’re listening to music on the radio—even satellite radio, in some instances—you are also hearing the advertisements, which is the price you pay to listen (and if it is satellite, there is a price on top of that price). So while it is seemingly a far, far better thing Densmore does to keep Cadillac from using “Break On Through (to the Other Side)”—which would have made more sense for the carmaker’s campaign, which uses “Break Through” as its tag line, than Zepplin’s “Rock and Roll,” which has nothing to do with breaking through anything (if they wanted to use Zep, then why not “Livin’ Lovin’ Maid”: “She’s cool around town in her aged Cadillac”)—for $14-million, what, really, is the point? When the music was first heard on FM stations, those stations were selling their time to advertisers for everything from Great Shakes to Falstaff (ads for them done, respectively, by The Who and Cream), so is there some sort of purity here? I don’t think so.

Continue reading Sometimes Reluctant Hookers