Jul 062021

I read the news the other day, oh boy, and found out it was 50 years ago that Jim Morrison checked out, either of a heart attack in a nice warm bath at home or overdosed on the throne at some local bar, depending on who you ask. Did anyone ever make a quicker descent from rock God to fat Elvis to dead Elvis? Man, he went for it.

In our household, my parents regularly discussed the news, but the death of a drugged-up hippy primarily known for getting arrested after waving his privates around on stage would have been low on their list of things to discuss with their 8-year-old son. That’s if they knew who he was, which seems as unlikely as me taking note of news about a rapper or singer in a boy band.

Without access to their music, other than “Light My Fire” on the Stardust soundtrack album, I read about them in books and magazines and was keen to find out more. About 4 years later, I was more than ready to pull out and demand to hear their albums when visiting friends whose parents were more liberal than my own. Which was almost everyone.

Before the world got poorly, I went to Paris with Mrs H, where I insisted on visiting Pere Lachaise cemetery. We arrived about an hour before closing time. She was tired and decided to help the sunset along with her knitting while I bounced around in search of what’s left of famous dead people, clutching the little map they handed me on the way in.

I said goodnight to Georges Melies and Edith Piaf, then found Simone Signoret and Yves Montand, who had the good sense to make things easier for death tourists by getting buried together. A brisk dash up the hill and I was soon channeling my inner Morrissey while having out with Oscar Wilde. The custodians grew so weary of cleaning his monument they stuck a huge glass box over it about twenty years ago. Nowadays, visitors chuck roses and whatnot over the walls before heading east to where the hardcore dudes hang out. For there rests Jim Morrison, under a mountain of tributes that photos suggest looks like a week’s worth of trash dumped on the unassuming marker beneath.

If you’ve seen The Prisoner, you might remember the buggies going out to retrieve Patrick McGoohan during his periodic escape attempts. About 20 minutes before closing time, the cemetery fills with similar vehicles, driving around exhorting anyone not 6 feet underground to make their way to the exit, barking at laggards through cracked loud hailers like some deranged Gallic Mark E Smith tribute act.

After losing a lot of weight, I discovered I can now run, better than I could as a teenager, or ever wanted to. I considered dodging the dune buggies and dashing over to see brother Jim, but quickly decided I couldn’t be bothered.

And that was when I realised The Doors, whose music meant so much to me as an angry/miserable, and usually both, teenager meant no longer held that magic for me. In addition, I wonder whether they ever did, or if I was merely dazzled by the legend.

There are about half a dozen songs I like well enough if I hear them on the radio. Two or three are so good that straight after hearing them I want to listen to them again. Mostly, they feel like something I used to do a long time ago and now can’t remember why. I’ve heard rereading Catcher in the Rye as an adult has the same effect on many.

If I heard “The End” coming from one of our children’s rooms, I’d probably walk on down the hall and ask them nicely to shut the door. Father, I want to… That’s very nice son, would you mind doing it more quietly?

So, am I maligning the Lizard King, or was he really wandering around most of the time stark naked, as opposed to simply waving his bits around at those who may or may not have wanted to see them?

And who in your musical life either appeared, or was heralded, as the second coming but turned out just to be a naughty boy?

May 202013



Bummer, man. No joke. Ray Manzarek, Doors keyboardist and Tonto to Jim Morrison’s Stoned Ranger, has died after a battle with bile duct cancer.

RayMan, as he was known to at least a few of us, brought much joy and laughter to the Halls of Rock—not to mention some actually cool musical contributions, both with the Doors and as producer of the essential albums by X!

The guy’s insufferable proselytizing of his allegedly late partner in crime and their band’s works began to charm me as the years passed. It’s rare that an artist is willing to talk in detail about the process of making music—and do so with an enthusiasm and belief in the greatness of his or her mates’ achievements that is usually only expressed among fellow bandmates. Let’s face it, whether it’s the Beatles, the Stones, the Doors, X, Jedward, or Nixon’s Head hunkered in their rehearsal space or studio, hammering out their latest creations, musicians experience a sense of godliness during the creative act. Most gods have the good sense to keep details of their creative process mysterious; Manzarek practically ran down Mount Olympus to tell us how the magic was made…man. We’ve got to learn how it’s done somehow.

Over time, the loyalty and love shown toward friends count for a lot, too. You know what I’m talking about, E. Pluribus Gergely!

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Jun 082011

When I’m watching a movie, especially a rock movie, I”m not usually a stickler for historical accuracy, anachronisms, continuity, and the like, but the period films of Oliver Stone have a special place in my critical eye based on Stone’s unbelievably shoddy use of spirit glue and fake facial hair and wigs. I can’t watch The Doors or Born on the Fourth of July, for instance, without being completely distracted by the seeping spirit glue running down the actors’ fake sideburned cheeks. If I had my druthers I’d invite you over tonight and spend the evening screening these films and cutting up on just this topic, but today I’d rather have us turn our critical eye on the following clip from Stone’s Doors flick.

Click on this formative scene (sorry, you’ll need to click the link because all versions of this classic excerpt I can find on YouTube prohibit embedding – we wouldn’t want to mess with Stone’s vision, you know) from the Book of Doors. At one point I’m pretty sure I noticed a blatant anachronism, one way worse than the occasional woman with a poofy, early ’90s hairdo. What is it that I immediately tuned into?

Some of you are much better tuned into this stuff than me. Why don’t you join me in identifying other anachronisms and whatnot?

Make sure you don’t get a whiff of that spirit glue!


The Gay Doors

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Mar 072011

While watching a bit of American Idol the other night (not a regular occurrence in my house, but we do flip by) Brett Loewenstern did a very, um, interesting cover of The Doors’ “Light My Fire.” (Note: the actual singing begins around the 0:30 mark.)For the rest of the evening, I kept mulling over other Doors tunes that could be done gay cabaret style. “People Are Strange” and “Backdoor Man,” obviously. You could reverse the Oedipal drama of the “The End” and, although I’m not sure how the rest of the song would work, The Gay Doors could go all Freddy Mercury dramatic on the Mr. Mojo Risin part of “LA Woman.” “LA Dragqueen,” anyone?

There are a few other examples of bands playing covers in an unlikely style. Dread Zeppelin and Lez Zeppelin as well as that group that re-records classic albums like Dark Side of the Moon and Sgt Pepper as reggae records. This is not always done as a joke, as in Seu Jorge’s Brazillian-flavored Bowie songs, featured in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zazou. He has more recently done a nice cover of Michael Jackson‘s “Rock With You.”Can you think of any other bands ripe for this treatment? Or even a more complete setlist for The Gay Doors?

Jan 292011

Sounds of the Hall in roughly 33 1/3 minutes!

In tonight’s edition of Saturday Night Shut-In, Mr. Moderator calls on The Power & Glory of Rock to remind him that it’s all right. Along the way he predicts that 2011 will be The Year of the Female-Fronted Band. Finally, a recently pardoned listener emerges from lord knows where to confirm that the show’s request line has finally been repaired.

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/RTH-Saturday-Night-Shut-In-13.mp3|titles=RTH Saturday Night Shut-In, episode 13]

[Note: The Rock Town Hall feed will enable you to easily download Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your digital music player. In fact, you can even set your iTunes to search for an automatic download of each week’s podcast.]

Dec 312010

December brought a wealth of strong contenders:

Townsman Oats, from the Weezer thread:

As for writing about the same subject matter as Lou Reed, I wasn’t aware that once Lou covered a topic as it was meant to be covered, that meant the topic was then off-limits to all other songwriters, as there was no possible way anyone could ever find something new to say about something Lou already wrote about. Maybe Rivers should have been completely tone-deaf, grown a mullet and hired some jazzbo sidemen.

Townsman hrrundivbakshi had this spot-on analysis of the Cut the Crap-era Joe Strummer interview.

However, the winner of December’s Comment of the Month award goes to Townsman gregg, who first checked in with long-lost cousin as part of our report on Jim Morrison’s pardon. More recently, he followed up with an old friend, who it turned out was the eyewitness he had in mind. For his dogged pursuit of The Truth and, better yet, the rekindling of old friendships, and because of its historical relevance, this latest follow-up is our winner! Congratulations, gregg, and make sure your cousin and friend share in your honors!

I was there with my ex wife at the concert. Everybody made a big deal out of Jim Morrison pulling it out on stage. No one did anything to the girls that were exposing themselves in front of the stage. They were throwing bras and underwear up on the stage at Jim. He was feeling the mood! The view (the girls) was wonderful for me. The concert itself was terrible. It was the worst I had ever heard from them. They sang almost every song off key. Jim was really drunk. At the same time this was going on, they were rioting outside. They had oversold the concert and people were trying to crash the gate.


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