Are the things of the past that we love, loved because they are of the past, or timeless?
Do you love Star Wars because it’s forever tied to your idyllic thoughts of the best parts of your youth, that drown out the occasional horrors you’ve chosen to forget? I know that there are entire years of my youth that I’ve blocked out so as not to have to relive certain traumatic memories of cruelty, though enough remained to leave me with some sizable neuroses.
Do I love The Doors simply out of reflex and muscle memory?
A Wee Bit of History
I fell into Doors fandom as a pre-teen, when some friends in school began playing 13, which was the band’s first greatest hits album. It was released originally in 1970 to bridge the gap while the band was undergoing troubles, and was finding a new audience as the teens who had listened to Morrison while he was alive had children coming of age.
Not my parents, of course. My brother was feathering his hair and listening to the music teens were supposed to enjoy. I was listening to a brooding drunk snarl his way through post-modern exhortations to debauchery and nihilism. In retrospect, I understand why Mom reacted poorly.
The Doors are also the catalyst for forming my strongest and longest–lasting friendship. That’s a permanent, positive memory that will stay associated with them forever. There’s a reason why he took me to see “The Doors of the 21st Century” as a birthday gift.
I have something to say! It’s better to burn out, than to fade away!
Of course, Morrison is one of those iconic rock personalities whose myth grew largely because of his death. There was nothing about his later life to disillusion or alienate fans (think Springsteen, Stones) and there was never a chance of seeing the sex symbol become a bloated shadow of himself. (Actually, he kinda did, but it was near the end and they could make everyone forget about it.)
I used to wonder if my Doors fandom would wane. There was a high school teacher I got to know pretty well, Mr. Arnold, who assured me my tastes would change. They changed somewhat, but followed a trajectory formed by my love of the classic foundations of rock, of which The Doors were a part.
Whether because I never completely let go of that young man who assured him The Doors would be my favorite for all time, or because I gained a different appreciation as I grew older and learned more, The Doors remain my forever baseline.
I can still put on a Doors album the same way that I can put on a Star Wars movie or show and just ignore the outside world. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, how stressful the day is or what’s on my plate. I can put on The Changeling or Tell All the People and sing along with a dead man for long enough to feel alive.
So I guess it doesn’t matter what the trigger is, what matters is that they still do it for me, and they will for the foreseeable future. Nothing can top the joy of LA Woman on an open road, or the effect that Morrison had on my personal style of writing.
But I suppose that’s a blog for another day.