Then Along Came The Doors
Doors changed the face of rock and roll
My wife came home from work one day and told me that she had heard
a song called "Share the Land" on the radio. "I like
that song," she said. "But the radio never tells who sings
© Jeffrey Beyl
"Oh, thats an old band called The Guess Who." I told
her. She was working in an office where a co-worker kept a radio tuned
to a local classic rock station. Having grown up in Hong Kong she was
never very familiar with western rock and roll. She knew who The Beatles
were but that was about it. When she married me a new world of music
entered her life. I began introducing her to bands like Led Zeppelin,
Creedence Clearwater, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Santana. What with me at
home and her colleague at work the sound of electric guitar over that
standard rock and roll 4/4 beat became part of the weave of her daily
She started getting pretty good at picking them out. She could recognize
Hendrix, The Doors, and Janis Joplin. But she discovered The Guess Who
on her own. It didnt matter to her that the band had dissolved
almost thirty years ago.
One evening during dinner she volunteered that she keeps hearing that
song. "Who did you say that was?"
"Just tell me, I cant guess."
"No, theyre called The Guess Who."
Another time she came home and said she likes a song called "These
Eyes" and was wondering who sang it. I told her it was by the same
band that did "Share the Land". Then one afternoon while driving
a song came on the radio and she became excited. "Oh, this is that
song. Who is this? I like this song."
It was the song "American Woman" by The Guess Who. This was
getting to be a habit. I drove to a record store and bought her the
greatest hits CD. "I like this band," she said. "This
is my favorite American rock band."
"Theyre not American," I told her. "Theyre
Canadian." She didnt care where they were from. She just
liked their music. When they did a reunion tour in 2001 I bought tickets
When the night of the concert arrived we found our seats up close. I
spared no expense to treat my wife to her own, self-discovered, favorite
rock band. I was taking off my jacket and had turned around to lay it
on the back of my seat when the guy in the seat directly behind me said
"The Doors? Whats with wearing a Doors hat to a Guess Who
concert? Shouldnt you be wearing a Guess Who hat?"
"Or at least a BTO hat" said his buddy next to him. BTO, or
Bachman, Turner Overdrive was formed by Randy Bachman, guitarist and
one of the founding members of the Guess Who when he left The Guess
Who in 1970. I looked at the guy. I looked at his buddy. They were both
wearing Guess Who T-shirts. "Cmon guys, its just a
hat. Besides, I saw The Doors too."
"No way," said the guy.
Why is it that no one ever believes me when I say I saw The Doors?
"Hey, Im oldern I look," I said.
The guy nodded. "Well, hey," he said. "The Doors are
Burton Cummings favorite band. Burton Cummings is the singer in The
"I know," I said. Actually I didnt know that but I liked
the thought. I figured I was in good company.
Anyway, Burton, Randy and the boys came on stage and the first thing
I noticed was that Burton Cummings was wearing a Jim Morrison T-shirt.
I turned around while we all stood for the opening applause and yelled
to the guy and his buddy, "Hey, check out Burtons shirt!"
I motioned to my hat and tugged on my shirt and grinned at the guy.
He smiled, nodded and continued clapping and I felt cool. Hey! Me and
Burton Cummings, right?
They did all their stuff and every song was better than the last. I
kept thinking, Oh, this is my favorite Guess Who song, Oh this is my
favorite, Oh, this is
I know my wife was thinking the same thing.
At one point during a break between songs the guy behind me asked, "Did
you really see The Doors?"
I told him that, yes, I had and he asked, "What was it like?"
"Are you a Doors fan?"
"Ohhh, yeah," he intoned.
"Well, it was the Doors." This is my standard line. I figure
a true Doors fan would know what I meant. But then the guy asked, "How
People always ask this too. How was Morrison? How do ya think he was?
I always figure that if ya gotta ask, ya aint a true Doors fan.
Jim Morrison was Jim Morrison. The Doors were The Doors. They were,
well, they were The Doors.
If I stare off into the distance and transport myself back in time I
can still see them. This was just after the "Strange Days"
album came out. They were popular. Jim Morrison was becoming a rock
star but he wasnt yet the icon, rock god that he later became.
He was controversial. He was great. But this was before the Miami thing.
Oh, I knew who I was seeing, though. This was The Doors, Jim Morrison
in a black T-shirt and those black leather pants. He didnt just
sing. He screamed. He danced. He writhed. He strutted. He chanted. I
remember Robbie Krieger kind of nonchalantly roaming around the stage
with his guitar. He looked almost like he was separate from the music
instead of being an integral part of it. I remember Ray Manzarek hunched
over his organ shaking his head from side to side as he played. This
was on an outdoor stage in a park in LA in 1968.
They were already my favorite band. All these years later they still
are. I became a Doors fan when I first heard "Break on Through
(To the Other Side)" the first song on the first album. When I
listen to it now, as I often do, I can still feel the summer sun of
1967. I can remember make-out parties, trying to lip-lock with our girlfriends
for the whole length of "Light My Fire". Think about that.
Thats a long song. When the "Strange Days" album came
out I remember smoking grass and trying to figure out just what songs
like "Horse Latitudes" and "When the Musics Over"
were all about. I listen to his music now and read his poetry and still
wonder just what Jim Morrison meant half the time.
The Doors were just different. They were, well like I said, they were
The Doors. There we all were back in 67and 68 listening
to bands like The Mamas And The Papas, The Dave Clark Five, The Electric
Prunes, and The Jefferson Airplane and along comes these four guys who
called themselves The Doors and they began playing music that slammed
our faces back into, or maybe out of, reality.
I remember listening to "The End" for the first time. That
song took lyric writing of the day and turned it on its head. Jim Morrison
was telling us things we hadnt heard before and we were listening
with open minds. Maybe the grass helped, who knows, but at least our
minds were open. Im not knockin the other music of the day,
it was great. But The Doors arrived on the scene and things just changed.
The Doors were just different. These guys reached a little deeper down
our throats and pulled out our guts. . These guys played the music of
death and destruction. They were a demonic carnival. This was heavy
stuff. I think The Doors were the first band to so roughly grab hold
of us as if to say "Hey, listen to this music or well cram
it up your ass" (my quote) Theirs wasnt necessarily dance
music, although we all swayed and nodded our heads in time. It was music
of the mind. It certainly wasnt background music. We had to stop
and listen. It grabbed us by the balls. Not only did the music, its
melodies and rhythm and phrasings of sound grab us but the words forced
us to stop in our tracks and bend an ear.
Remember the times. The Vietnam War was raging. Guys were dying. We
may have been in the middle of the summer of love in 1967 but we were
uneasy. Nobody wanted to get drafted and sent to the war. We were questioning
everything. We were confused. We were punks. I can say that now all
these years later. We thought we had our acts so together. But we were
searching. I think many of us still dont know what exactly we
were searching for but I do know that Jim Morrison and The Doors helped
us in our quest to find it, whatever it was, whatever it may still be.
The Doors were different, aggressive, erotic. They were treacherous.
I remember sitting on the lawn in that park. People all around us. We
were off to the right of the stage about forty feet back. I remember
watching The Doors through a kaleidoscope that I had bought earlier
in the day at the festival. There was another band called Kaleidoscope
playing at the festival so there were kaleidoscopes all over. Imagine
sitting in a park on a sunny day, stoned and looking through a kaleidoscope
at Jim Morrison performing all of his stage antics, screaming and wailing,
twirling in a frenzy and Im seeing about twelve of him through
this glass tube that Im holding up to my bloodshot eyes.
Something was happening. Say what you will about the sixties. I know
Jim Morrison died. I know Janis and Hendrix died. I know that the sixties
led to the seventies. I know all that, Ive seen the movies too.
But I was also there. I never met the guy but he did something, Jim
Morrison. The Doors changed the face of rock and roll. They took it
to a new level. Maybe they took it to a new sub-level. Either way theyve
gone down in music history as one of the more important bands of their
day. Theyve now been elevated to mythic status.
I have a "Doors" decal in the back window of my car. People
see it and sometimes wave and yell out "The Doors, man!" I
also wear a hat with a Doors logo on it and people frequently comment
on it as happened at The Guess Who concert. "Awright man! Are you
a Doors fan?"
I usually just smile, nod my head and move on. The term "Doors
fan" has almost become cliché, especially since that
comedy group The New Kids On The Block did a comedic song about being
a Doors fan. One time a guy walked up to me on the street and said,
"The Doors? What are you, some kind of hippie?" I told him
that, yes I was, thank you very much and I walked quickly away. Another
time a girl came up to me and said, "Wow! I love your hat. Im
in love with Jim Morrison. Hes a god."
I wanted to tell her; sorry lady, Jim Morrison is dead. Instead I told
her that I saw The Doors back in 1968 and she almost fell down at my
feet. "Gawd! Youre kidding? Youre sooooooo lucky!"
I guess I was as close as she had ever gotten to her idol simply by
my having been to a concert before she was even born. I walked away
wondering if she really liked The Doors music or if she was just
caught up in the Jim Morrison rock/sex god myth.
Thats the way it is with The Doors. They stand out. I had a conversation
with a guy once about Jimi Hendrix. I mentioned that I had seen Hendrix
back in 1969. He thought that was cool but when I told him Id
seen The Doors his response was, "No way! Jesus, Id love
to be able to say Ive seen The Doors." Well, I did and its
a great memory to have.
The Doors were just different. They were, well, as I said, they were
Shoreline, WA 98133
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