Doors Week: Frozen In Time

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!

—The Kurgan

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.

3 thoughts on “Doors Week: Frozen In Time

  1. Good stuff.

    My older brother and I recently had a discussion about the overall flaw to NPR Music’s current project to assemble a list of albums that “everybody loves”.

    My opinion is that it is perfectly reasonable (though still somewhat doomed) to make a list of albums that “everyone agrees on.” But the albums, bands and songs that one “loves” tend to be associated with deeply personal experiences and memories of a time or times in which you heard it, just as much the chords and lyrics. To that end, no one loves any piece of art in same way that another person loves it.

    You know how I feel about the Doors: five-to-ten totally awesome songs, followed by a bunch of stuff that does nothing (or worse) for me. We could debate for hours whether or not tha band is “great.” But I’d never ask you to defend — or possibly even know for certain — why you love them.

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    1. Thanks – agree. As for the NPR project, I didn’t know that they were embarking on such a task; I agree that it’s foolhardy. “Love” is a very strong word, regardless of context, and asking people to mark an album as “influential” or even “justifiably popular for the time it was released” is far more likely to get a worthwhile response. For example, I may feel about Zeppelin the way you feel about The Doors, but I can readily and reasonably acknowledge that they had some genre-shifting work that’s worth listening to even if you don’t “love” it.

      And of course it’s always interesting exactly how seriously we all take the entertainment we enjoy.

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      1. Their intentions are good. The word choice is not. Given the hipster cache that NPR music has built up the past few years, I actually consider the persuit to be noble: recognizing that the fan base takes music pretty seriously and will always have a love for obscure or outsider art, how do we establish a baseline for what we all agree on, rather than what sets us apart?

        Of course, this was before “Graceland” and “Legend” ended up on the first list. Blech.

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