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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Doors

I am going to celebrate but one band, one group of musicians and writers whom, after their introduction to my lost and drifting mind 20 years ago, catalysed a whole series of life changes and magical associations which seem to me now not to have been possible without the addition of their unique formula at just right moment in my life. I am going to write (yet) more words on the darkly medieval majesty that is The Doors. I don’t need you to agree with whether or not their musicality has merit or whether there are better bands out there – this is not a biography or critique. I am merely going to attempt to describe some sort of magic at work in the universe – my universe. Others could no doubt perform the same feat with their love of skateboarding, chess playing, basket weaving, cake baking, shamanic healing. Passion finds its expression in many things; light can glint in many broken shards, dark and fertile minds allow deep roots.

An important aspect in any magic spell taking hold is getting the right fit. You know when something is ready because it rises out the tin, emerges unpredictably the womb, flowers into life as the sun comes out from behind the clouds.

An elemental child given to fits of self pity and misery, outbursts of anger and expressions of joy and easy laugh, I am the imperfect employee bored easily and uninterested in minutiae of the every day modern business process. I like to flit in the country fields and light fires in the dark woods. I prefer to freeze on winter hilltops rather than endure stultifying classrooms. I’d rather swim to the bottom of the sea than sit indoors. Here then, for the first time in my life, was all of that unwinding in the thick plastic grooves of the pretty beat up vinyl that bestowed my discovery of the Doors songs during my 20th year. Up until that point I had been playing guitar for some 12 years, had studied classical music and had been playing in garage bands since I was 14. I was good at bass, drums and guitar but lacked any kind of focus whatsoever. Lucky enough to enjoy an education just at the time the English secondary system was disintegrating courtesy of Thatcher and her policies; my teachers were disinterested enough in me that I ended up lacking conviction in anything except going up the hill on the weekends to smoke cigarettes and build bivouacs and spend the weeks drinking endless cups of tea with friends who were as slack as me – occasionally we’d rehearse new songs that never saw the light of day. I say lucky because I never had the chance to lose my day-dreamy foot in the other, so natural to children and so successfully eradicated in most adults.

I guess then, that is was just a matter of time until I would discover this music that makes me want to hang my life on it. One spill into it, even for a short time, is the magic pill that slowly dissolves into a very desirable space in my head. Beaches, dark nights, booze and shifting consciousness, I can dissolve myself to its vibration without fear of it ever being corrupted by over use. There’s certainly not that much else in my life that I could say that about. I am lucky as hell to have found it.

That’s the great thing about music, sure some of it dates and gets old, but when it really rings your bell it chimes for all time. What Ray, Robbie, Jim and John wrestled into existence has managed to tremble on over generations and continue to spread. The only word for it: resonance. Energy that binds with those it encounters creating new connections and opening possibilities. And The Doors use of literary and cinematic allusions only strengthens their reach; just like the alchemist who combines disparate ingredients with potent parts of his personality to bring new substance into the world, their differing roots have held the tree aloft for 40 years and counting.

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