Full Circle

C’mon Baby Take a Chance with Us: Breaking Down the Doors

The Doors in 1966: Jim Morrison, John Densmuir, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger.

Jim Morrison in 1970.

Morrison and his girlfriend, Pamela Courson.

The Doors in 1971.

Let’s reinvent the gods,
all the myths of the ages
Celebrate symbols in deep elder forests
[Have you forgotten the lessons of the
ancient war]
Do you know we are being led to
slaughters by placid admirals
& that fat slow generals are getting
obscene on young blood
Do you know we are ruled by T.V.
– from “An American Prayer”

If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it’s to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel. – James Douglas Morrison (12.08.43—07.03.71)

Q: “Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?” A: “Whadda ya got?”
The Wild One (1953)

Back there over his shoulder…Everyone has a coming-of-age story: a Pandora’s box narrative that reveals the unwitting implications of what goes down when you transform your innocence into decadent reappraisal, exchanging your blind ignorance for a glimpse at spiritual awakening and/or the matriculation into carnal knowledge. It’s a means of Self-discovery and renewal in the form of churning, yearning, and reversing the screws on the Puritanical clampdown that society has traditionally turned into a magical bread and circus act. Mysticism and transcendence are not for the faint of heart–it takes courage (or the act of a holy fool) to walk into the light and stare down the darkness. Not everyone has the strength or the discipline to bear the necessary weight of pulling Excalibur from its stone, or to understand what it takes to slay the physical and psychological dragons of our own nature. You can either be a hero or a voyeur upon the galactic silver screen. The choice is up to you: what sort of mark do you wish to leave on this world?

It was 40 years ago, in the summer of ’78, that I began pondering these notions and “all the myths of the ages,” after my stepmother returned from a Saturday afternoon of yard sailing in the soul-numbing suburbs of Northern Virginia, to present me with two 25-cent LPs she had plucked from a pile of discards: The Doors and Morrison Hotel. My cultural circumstances were so suspect (thank you MK-Ultra mass media!), stupefyingly boring you could say, that I had no idea that a revolution was about to explode in my head, heart, hands, and groin. I had just been gifted a paradigm-shifting manifesto in the form of a phonograph record.

Stronger than dirt…The covers were slightly beaten up but beautiful, and the wax within had lost not one iota of its virility. Perched headlong on the edge of adolescence, my psyche and cosmic disposition were in prime attunement with these vinyl Rosetta Stones from another dimension. Thank the gods and goddesses for the gift of rock ‘n’ roll and poetry! And for instilling the renunciation of all that is conventionally geared toward social engineering, persuading you to put on a uniform of fear, whether the Army’s, the Navy’s, or McDonald’s. I was just about to turn 14 with my imagination in full bloom, with my curiosity severely piqued by a pied piper of the apocalypse who was imploring all to break on through to the other side and liberate yourself from all existing constructs. The other side of what I wondered? And to where did this breakthrough lead?

I say that one must be a seer, make oneself a seer. The poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious, and rational disordering of the senses–every form of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he consumes all the poisons in him, and keeps only their quintessences. This is an unspeakable torture during which he needs all his faith and superhuman strength, and during which he becomes the great patient, the great criminal, the great accursed–and the great learned one!–among men. For he arrives at the unknown! Because he has cultivated his own soul–which was rich to begin with–more than any other man! He reaches the unknown; and even if, crazed, he ends up by losing the understanding of his visions, at least he has seen them! Let him die charging through those unutterable, unnamable things: other horrible workers will come; they will begin from the horizons where he has succumbed!
– Arthur Rimbaud (1854—1891)

By 1978 the Doors had been off the charts and out of vogue for seven long years since the death by misadventure of lead singer, composer, and lyricist Jim Morrison at the age of 27 in July of ’71. Having missed the boat the first time around (circa 1966—71), and apart from hearing “Light My Fire” a handful of times, I was completely ignorant regarding the backstory of the Doors. But with a manic glee I shoplifted from On the Road’s Dean Moriarty, the Doors became a personal fixation, nay, a crusade–due in large part that, then and now, no one in contemporary rock ‘n’ roll sounds remotely like them. In fact, there is no other group in the history of popular music who has barnstormed the upper reaches of the Top Forty, with their singular brand of Chicago blues-meets-Bach mysticism, as deftly and defiantly as the Doors. Hell, rarely do “mysticism” and “popular music” find themselves cavorting together in the same sentence. But the Doors are all that and more, not to mention somewhat polarizing. Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, they are 2,000 light years from your typical rock ‘n’ roll band. And where I find a rainbow-tinted fount of inspired psychedelic profundity in their tribal rhythms and oblique poetry, you could sip from the very same DayGlo-painted goblet and dismiss such flights of fancy as “pretentious hogwash.” Such are the doors of perception.

There are no facts, only interpretations. – Friedrich Nietzsche (1844—1900)

Born in the last year of the Baby Boom (1946—1964), it wasn’t feasible for me to witness the Doors firsthand, as writer Harvey Kubernik can merrily boast in his latest book The Doors Summer’s Gone. And like each generation since the ’70s, I come to the Doors strictly on the documentary evidence that is left in the band’s wake: official and unofficial (i.e., bootleg) audio recordings; videotapes, film, and photographs; poems and lyrics; journalistic dispatches of observation and speculation; and first-person memoirs.

I was seduced by the imagery on The Doors’ debut (from January of ’67) as much as the music, particularly the way keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore seemingly pop out of frontman Jim Morrison’s left eye socket, inhabiting his mental interior. The montage on the back has the quartet superimposed across each other’s brow–four individuals and simultaneously a telepathic hydra–a Universal Mind from which they spent six insane years rocking the boat, pushing the collective envelope, and traversing the uncharted seas of consciousness expansion. They certainly fulfilled their initial mandate of “starting a rock ‘n’ roll band and making a million dollars” (as per Manzarek), but it all came at a price: the lead singer’s pre-mature mortality in exchange for becoming immortal. It reads like a Faustian pact: Jim Morrison’s legacy as the ever-popular tortured artist effect writ large, with tragedy and comedy careening throughout this classic Greek drama in three acts. In death as well as life, Morrison remains an archetypal vision of hell-on-wheels, a “monster” in black leather, determined to die in the pursuit of all knowledge, based upon Rimbaud’s philosophy of what it takes to become a poetic seer. Fortunately, for the edification of those who have the ears to hear, he jotted down a few observations along the way before taking those hard-won lessons and hurling them back into the void from whence they came.

Listening to The Doors and Morrison Hotel led to a complete emersion into their back catalog, resulting in a full-on obsession–a clarion call to explore the 5,000 layers of the metaphysical glass onion. The psychedelic sense-around of sex, death, and resurrection implicit in the Doors’ music suggested that you were either exploring the cosmos with them on the big blue bus towards psychic and spiritual liberation or you were a wayward pedestrian. The Doors became a line in the sand, a mystical portal for discovering aspects of Self that I would have never tapped into otherwise. I quizzed my peers at school and no one, save for one or two of my more liberal-minded teachers, knew who or what I was talking about. But that would soon change.

At the cinema I noticed the Doors creeping into the darker corners of popular culture, with Francis Ford Coppola utilizing “The End” to such great dramatic effect in Apocalypse Now, and “Light My Fire” popping up in a party sequence during Ken Russell’s Altered States.

My indoctrination intensified a thousand-fold in the spring of ’79 when local DC rock station WAVA-FM aired a four-hour InnerView special, featuring music and conversation with the three surviving Doors and their contemporaries. Hosted by Los Angeles disc jockey Jim Ladd, the timing of these syndicated radio programs into 135 American markets was synchronized with the release and promotion of the posthumous spoken word LP An American Prayer. Every Monday night, from 11pm to midnight, I sat in the dark and listened in rapt amazement. When the four one-hour segments were rebroadcast over the summer, I made sure to record them off the radio and listened to them so many times that the oxide finally wore off the tapes (they were eventually released on compact disc in 2001 through the Doors Bright Midnight imprint). They still hold up amazingly well and amply demonstrate why this quartet from Venice, California, is so freaking compelling.

Whoever controls the media, controls the mind. – Jim Morrison

Motivated by profit and an evangelical fervor, the programs were the brainchild of Danny Sugerman, who ingratiated himself with the Doors organization at the age of 12 after finagling a job answering Jim Morrison’s fan mail. Within a decade he would end up becoming Ray Manzarek’s personal manager, and eventually took over the business affairs of the Doors until his death of lung cancer in 2005. In his multi-pronged attack to resurrect the commercial cachet of the group, he collaborated with rock scribe Jerry Hopkins on a biography of Jim Morrison, No One Here Gets Out Alive. Published in June of 1980, it quickly became a New York Times bestseller. A few months later Elektra Records released The Doors Greatest Hits, a 10-track compilation that has sold over five million units. All of a sudden, their back catalog started moving in large numbers, and it hasn’t abated. The Doors belong to that elite group of artists (the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin) who consistently sell over half a million units annually. There have been over a dozen compilations, numerous live albums, three box sets repackaging their core catalog, and this past December Elektra/Rhino Records released a 20-disc box set of all the 45rpm 7-inch singles that were released by the group between 1967—83.

Much as falling in love with the Beatles encouraged me to investigate the roots of their musical apprenticeship (Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Elvis, the Everly Brothers, the Brill Building, Sun Records, Motown, et al.), the influence of the Doors led down an infinite array of tributaries that encompass far more than the blues or indigenous American music, including: philosophy, poetry, literature, theatre, cinema, shamanism, spirituality, meditation, drug experimentation, and learning how to analyze the media and its effects on crowd psychology. I became so immersed in the Doors that I wrote a full-page review of No One Here Gets Out Alive for the December 1980 edition of my high school newspaper. Shortly thereafter I wrote a poem called “The Shaman” that was adopted as the name of our school’s literary magazine (our mascot at Gar-Field Sr. High in Woodbridge, Virginia, was the American Indian). In my senior year I wrote in the yearbook that my ambition was to “one day meet Jim Morrison in the jungles of Africa. Strange Days have found us.” In retrospect, it’s amazing that I didn’t start wearing leather pants to accompany the Mexican wedding shirt that my girlfriend bought me for Christmas that year. But I did end up eventually spending the night at the Alta Cienega Motel in West Hollywood, across from Barney’s Beanery, where Morrison spent the majority of his nights circa ’69 in room 32.

There will never be another one like you…

In the August 1981 edition of Musician magazine Lester Bangs wrote one of the most insightful essays on the Doors regarding their Lazarus-like resurrection: Jim Morrison–Bozo Dionysus a Decade Later. “We seem to be in the midst of a full-scale Doors Revival…though in the end it may be questionable just how much it really has to do with the Doors. Perhaps a more apposite question, though, might be: can you imagine being a teenager in the 1980s and having absolutely no culture you could call your own?” Bangs hits the nail on the head and expresses the precise sentiment that created the Paisley Underground movement and such retro musical acts as the Crawdaddys and the Tell-Tale Hearts here in San Diego, and fanzines like Ugly Things that represent a subculture that could not and would not embrace the corporate dreck being peddled on commercial radio, Rolling Stone, or MTV.

Bangs: “Because that’s what it finally comes down to, that and the further point which might as well be admitted, that you can deny it all you want but almost none of the groups that have been offered to the public in the last few years begin to compare with the best from the sixties. And this isn’t just sixties nostalgia–it’s a simple matter of listening to them side by side and noting the relative lack of passion, expansiveness, and commitment in even the best of today’s groups. There’s a half-heartedness, a tentativeness, and perhaps worst of all a tendency to hide behind irony that is, after all, perfectly reflective of the time, but doesn’t do much to endear these pretenders to the throne. Sure, given the economic climate alone as well as all the other factors it was a hell of a lot easier to go all-out berserk yet hold on to whatever principles you had in the sixties–today’s bands are so eager to get bought up and groomed and sold by the pound it often seems as if even the most popular and colorful barely even exist, let alone stand for anything.” As enlightening as that observation was in 1981, it has only grown more profound over the last three decades.

Did you have a good world when you died? Enough to base a movie on?

The Doors famously began when Manzarek met Morrison in the film department of UCLA. By the summer of ’65 Manzarek had fulfilled the requirements for a master’s degree in Film, with Morrison earning a bachelor’s degree. Morrison spent the summer after graduation camped out on a Venice rooftop, dropping acid and “taking notes at a fantastic rock concert that was going on inside my head.” When Morrison and Manzarek ran into each on the beach in Venice around the fourth of July in ’65, they decided to join forces after Morrison sang a few of his new songs to Manzarek. Drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger had played together briefly in a group called the Psychedelic Rangers before Densmore met Manzarek in a transcendental meditation class. By 1966, Rick and the Ravens, the quintet featuring Ray’s brothers Rick and Jim Manzarek, had mutated into the Doors (“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.” – William Blake). After a year of woodshedding, developing their performance and songwriting chops, the band landed a residency at the London Fog on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and was signed and then dropped by Columbia Records. Jac Holzman of Elektra Records signed them to a three-album deal after being won over by them at the Whisky a Go Go, based upon the urging of Arthur Lee from Love. With producer Paul Rothchild and engineer Bruce Botnick at the helm, the Doors racked up eight Top Forty singles and two Number Ones between 1967—71. They released six studio albums in five years, with one double live LP and one compilation (13) during their brief, incandescent lifespan. After Morrison split the scene in the summer of ’71, the group became a fairly different animal as a trio, releasing two LPs (Other Voices and) before calling it a day in 1973. Most folks weren’t able to make the transition in hearing Manzarek and Krieger handle the vocal chores. But Densmore, Manzarek & Krieger do have a charm of their own, they’re just not “The Doors” without Jim Morrison: the learned scholar and acid poet, who once described himself as an “intelligent, sensitive human, with the soul of a clown which forces me to blow it at the most important moments.”

Drugs are a bet w/ your mind.

A trademark established by the Doors from the get-go was the inclusion of an eleven-minute-plus epic of pure theatre, the premiere example being the Oedipal/high drama/patricidal “The End” from The Doors, perhaps the most perfectly realized, pristine debut in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Their second album from September of ’67, Strange Days, is really sides three and four of a stunning double LP, and it concludes with the over-the-top ecological psychedelic masterpiece “When the Music’s Over,” containing the single greatest scream of ecstasy, frustration, and divine intervention ever captured on tape. We want the world and we want it…NOW! Thus concludes Act I. Act II is where the rising action dips a little when epic number three, “Celebration of the Lizard,” didn’t make the cut for 1968’s Waiting for the Sun (it would later appear on Absolutely Live and prove to be Morrison’s masterpiece). By 1969, Morrison’s alcoholic intake was becoming the stuff of legend, and he was arrested no less than ten times during his brief time on planet Earth, but nothing impacted the career of the Doors like the charges leveled against him in March of ’69 for his performance in Miami, Florida, when he was accused of “lewd and lascivious behavior” (a felony), “indecent exposure,” “public drunkenness,” and “open profanity” (the last three charges all misdemeanors). You can hear the influence of the avant-garde Living Theatre in this performance documented on The Doors Box Set, where he taunts the audience with such lines as “You’re all a bunch of fucking idiots, letting people push you around” and “What are you gonna do about it?” Was he trying to incite a riot? Probably, and in the course of 65 minutes Morrison succeeded in trashing his image as a sex symbol and having the Doors blacklisted from every concert arena and radio station across America. His drinking, along with Rothchild’s perfectionism, certainly prolonged the process of recording The Soft Parade, whose slightly disjointed title track represents epic number four. It’s a existential howl from the wilderness of pain and thus ends Act II on a note of bravado, pathos, and criminal charges.

Amazingly, the third and final act of the Doors contains some of the most potent music of their career. Unable to tour because of the fiasco in Miami, Morrison used the opportunity to regain his focus on 1970’s Morrison Hotel, a taut piece of songwriting that showed him and the other three Doors maturing as composers and performers. The stopgap LP Absolutely Live reinforced what is truly unique about the Doors: their incomparable ability to improvise on stage and deliver gem after gem of unpremeditated marvel. Their swan song as a quartet from the spring of ’71, L.A. Woman, documents a band that is still growing and maturing, with the extended workouts of “Riders on the Storm” and the LP’s title track proving that they were still capable of creating an emotional tidal wave and expanding the parameters of rock ‘n’ roll. But when Morrison decided to take a sabbatical from Los Angeles and the music biz and spend some well-deserved time off in Paris, France, with his common-law wife Pamela Courson, he still had a legal appeal hanging over his head from the Miami trial, with charges that could have potentially had him spending six months in a federal penitentiary. Any speculation on what sort of future the Doors had was curtailed when Morrison was found dead in a Paris bathtub on July 3, 1971. Definitive evidence as to the cause of death is difficult to determine, but speculation that Morrison died of an accidental overdose of heroin combined with alcohol poisoning seems to be the most likely scenario. Courson died three years later (also at 27) under similar drug-related circumstances. Fade to black. End of Act III. The resultant aftermath is a prolonged epilogue that’s still going strong after half a century.

I see myself as a huge fiery comet, a shooting star. Everyone stops, points up and gasps, “Oh, look at that!” Then–whoosh! and I’m gone…and they’ll never see anything like it ever again. And they won’t be able to forget me, ever. – Jim Morrison

If you happen to come to the Doors via Oliver Stone’s 1991 fantasy of how the band’s trip played itself out, you are well advised to check out the numerous DVDs that show the Doors as they truly were (Feast of Friends, The Doors are Open, At the Hollywood Bowl, Dance on Fire, Soundstage Performances), despite the jaw-dropping brilliance of Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Jim Morrison. Stone somehow missed the subtlety, the sense of humor, and the fact that the Doors are a perfect blend of four entities, not just the Jimbo freak show public image that distorts the true significance of their work. On the audio documentary Doors: Myth and Reality, Manzarek rightly describes Stone’s depiction of the group as “heinous,” and points out one of the film’s many inaccuracies. “Jim’s student film was not highly received by the collective student body and the faculty at UCLA at the time of the screenings. But he didn’t say ‘I quit’ after they panned his film. Jim’s film was cinematic poetry. It was a juxtaposition of images that really didn’t have any relationship to each other necessarily but after seven to eight minutes went by it became a collective whole and it became a poetic piece. It was non-linear and purely experimental, and I thought it was quite brilliant. It had a great shot of Jim doing a toke off of a huge bomber. See, we were all heads at the time and the whole point of the film school in ’63, ’64, ’65 was we were all high. Everyone was giggling and laughing and having just the grandest time.”

Regarding the symbolism of “The End,” improvised at the Whisky a Go Go when Morrison was allegedly under the influence of 10,000 micrograms of LSD, Manzarek has this to say: “I hate to interpret, but I’ll draw an analogy to the Blue Bus. The ancient Egyptian civilization, their rights and religious rituals, had the Solar Boat. Well, blue being a heavenly color, blue being associated with mysticism and trips…the bus being associated with trips. It’s all of the trips that you could possibly imagine. The Blue Bus.”

Bonus question (two-parter): have you ever listened to the Doors while peaking on acid? And would you appreciate Rubber Soul more if you smoked some marijuana before dropping the needle?

During my tenure at Reelin’ in the Years Productions (1999—2005), creating the world’s largest music footage library, I met a significant amount of my musical heroes. But no one was more gracious, generous, or cool as Ray Manzarek. After a chance meeting at a Hollywood film storage facility in 2003, where I ran into him and his wife, Dorothy, Ray agreed to write some liner notes for the American Folk Blues Festival project that we were about to release through Universal Music. I knew Ray was originally from Chicago and he was clearly a disciple of the blues. His observations were spot on: “It’s sheer luck that this footage exists–and now it’s ours. All of us. We can relive the heady times of true folk festivals, and perhaps find an authenticity in these artists that we can apply to these ersatz times in which we now live. Their purity and commitment to the holy energy of music could brighten and enrich all our lives, if only we could find the inner spark of courage and love these performers so abundantly possess. Immerse yourself in it. What a joy!” As beautiful and articulate as these sentiments are, they could equally be applied to the music of the Doors.

I watched Ray and Dorothy pull away with a station wagon full of boxes containing what seemed to be the entire archive of film footage that exists on the Doors. These were the elements that would be handed over to director Tom Dicillo for his 2009 documentary When You’re Strange. When I quizzed Ray about what other projects he had going on with the Doors he referred me to Danny Sugerman, which led to several phone calls helping Danny organize the paperwork and elements for the Soundstage Performances DVD. DR TV, the Danish Broadcasting Company, had been one of RITY’s clients, and we provided Betacam masters for the finished product.
Another of our clients, the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC), had captured the very last footage of the Doors performing “Crawling King Snake” in their rehearsal space in the spring of 1971. When we sent a copy to Ray to preview the clip he told me over the phone, “Why don’t you wait until we’re all dead before you put that out.” But he apparently changed his mind, and the performance appeared as a bonus clip in 2006 on the Perception box set.

In appreciation for all the work that we did, Ray comped me with tickets to see him and Robby perform with vocalist Ian Astbury as the Doors of the 21st Century at Street Scene that year. I continued to stay in touch with him after he and Dorothy relocated from Los Angeles to Napa Valley, and it truly saddened me when Ray passed over to the other side at the age of 74 from cancer in 2013.

Morrison’s last days, like the tale of Roshomon, are beautifully speculative–beautiful in the sense that what seemed to go down changes with whomever happens to be telling the story. But the conclusion remains the same. Jim Morrison spent his entire adulthood sneering at and dancing with death as if it were a supple mistress, willing to laugh at the consequences of prancing about on the razor’s edge. Unfortunately, the only way to find out if you’ve gone too far is by falling over the edge of the abyss.

The Doors remain the supreme example of Joycean Rock, with a stream of consciousness lyrical flow whose pliability allows for universal and personal interpretations at the same time. You can project whatever you wish upon their canvas and their art doesn’t wither or bend from the weight of the listener’s psyche. The art is so sturdy it can sustain you and give you a platform to view reality from an unprecedented perspective. Sure, Sgt. Pepper’s is a dazzling light show that entertains and distracts you from the mundane. But The Doors is a gauntlet cast upon the ashes of a dead world and dares you to take up the challenge and reinvent everything that you ever thought you knew about your Self and the world around you. Surreal, psychedelic, whatever you wish to call the music and the art of the Doors, it is in the final analysis transcendent of the antiquated precepts, concepts, and jargon of the old-world traditions that are no longer relevant. There are great risks and perils at following the example of where these particular doors lead. Behind door number one is heaven, behind door number two is hell, and behind door number three is an untold mystery of deliverance and oblivion, and the only way to find out is by having the cojones to explore the outer reaches of sanity, mental illness, spiritual longing, and clarity beyond the illusory bounds of space and time. The Doors don’t have all the answers, but they ask the right questions. And it is up to the listener to decide which of those dangerous possibilities are worth exploring and risking all.

Most people can’t handle that type of responsibility. To understand your divine essence as not merely an intellectual construct, but as a living, breathing, experiential piece of hard won wisdom–a comprehension that you are the master who makes the grass green. Once you understand that you are the divine presence who creates every element within your perceptual framework that you choose to tag as “reality,” then you can no longer be a victim to other people’s games. “Learn to forget” is another way of banishing outmoded concepts from your consciousness. Allow yourself to be a magic act in training, a scientist who uses experience to formulate theorems of how the multi-verse operates. Become a dance instructor who masters the art of Zen and is able to have a beginner’s mind in any conceivable discipline. Decide where you want to go and what you want to create, and have the unflagging energy, nerve, and patience to see it through to its logical (or illogical) conclusion. And what do you do once you have arrived at said destination? Take stock, do an inventory, and set the controls for the heart of the Sun once again with the added benefit of increased knowledge, increased wisdom, and increased motivation to do something that is bigger than yourself. Keep readjusting the dial on the idea and perception of “Self.” The Ego who thinks it knows what and whom it is is to be perpetually shifting, growing–a Changeling. “He not busy being born is busy dying,” said Robert Allen Zimmerman one sunny afternoon in ’64, and truer words have never been written or sung. Continual rebirth and continual expansion are not the only stance one can take in life–apathy, stasis, and sloth are massively popular among the great, unwashed masses. But continual rebirth takes great strength and energy, just as sending out a smile or an act of kindness requires more of an effort than snubbing your fellow humans with a scowl, a bullet, or a bomb. The greatest proponents of the Love Generation understood that. And the best poetry of Jim Morrison and the musical innovations of the Doors embraced the cosmic love of the psychedelic sixties, but they additionally sought to push the collective consciousness into the Shiva realm of death, chaos, and destruction, to demolish the constructs of the old world that were no longer relevant, and to establish the personal freedom to explore life without constraints. No limits. No laws.

You can’t have free form music without the freedom, and you can’t have it without the structure of form either. Freedom may be just another word for nothing left to lose, but true freedom understands that boundaries are necessary, not just in art but in life itself. The frame of a painting tells you where art begins and ends, or otherwise, as Frank Zappa says: “What is that shit on the wall?” Without any structure to guide your days and nights and steer your soul along the straight and narrow of light and love, you will most likely plummet into oblivion, never to be heard from again. As much as the Doors are an inspiration, they are also a cautionary tale to the nth degree.

This is the end beautiful friend…Jim Morrison and the Doors established a model of how you can use sense derangement as a means to Self-discovery, but it’s a philosophy that is fraught with peril–truly no one here does get out alive.

The example established by the Doors can lead to a blissful cosmic awareness of the interconnectedness of all things, the transitory nature of existence, and how thoughts and consciousness create your reality. These truths are explored in the lyrics and sonic vibrations of the Doors music. Their music truly takes you on a trip through all the aspects of what it means to be alive in the twentieth century and beyond. They are timeless truths, which is one of the many reasons that their albums continue to sell in massive quantities each year. The imploring adolescent is still figuring out ways to break on through to a higher level of understanding the divine seed of potential within us all. It’s just important to remember and emphasize that all knowledge comes at a price. If you want to experience the Doors as a voyeur and glimpse the possibilities that their music initiates, that is a valid excursion into the unknown. But if you want to be the Door and walk on down the hallway into Self-awareness–that can be precarious business. Fortunately, the Doors left road maps to the soul throughout their body of work to guide, warn, and emphasis what those pitfalls might be. You can choose to embrace or ignore those warnings, but they’re there all the same. And after experiencing the Doors, conventional reality becomes a bit of an affront: how much longer can you remain in the tried and true place of the status quo before it is too painful to explore the unknown, regardless of the perils that might await? That is a personal question that we all must ask ourselves. But better to have lived a life of taking chances rather than be filled with regret on your deathbed that you had the opportunity and blew it.

Leave the informed sense
in our wake
you be Christ
on this package tour
–Money beats soul–
Last words, last words

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