40 years on Jim Morrison and The Doors: still dark, still strange, and still hot

The Doors

As any longtime music fan might observe, there are a certain number of artists a person encounters in their life that they return to repeatedly, like some sort of weird psychic center.

For example, the Beatles are one of the bands on this writer’s personal list. So too is the mighty Nirvana, and the psychedelic pioneers of Pink Floyd. The Clash, Oasis, Led Zeppelin – I could go on and on.

However, the group resounding most strongly in my head right now is none other than The Doors.

Today, just over 40 years after the death of Jim Morrison, the music of the Lizard King and his three comrades in arms – Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore – remains as relevant as ever. Don’t believe me?

According to BBC News, hundreds of Doors’ fans recently joined members Manzarek and Krieger as the two lit candles and laid flowers on Morrison’s grave on July 3 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the singer’s death in Paris.

How’s that for staying power?

In 2009, a documentary about the band “When You’re Strange” was released featuring narration by actor Johnny Depp and received much critical praise.

Included in that film was footage from an experimental film made by Morrison and photographer Paul Ferrara, which while widely available in bootleg form on the Internet has never been made completely available to the public.

Though many now associate the band with the 1991 Oliver Stone biopic that bears their name, there is a deeper story to the group than anything Stone’s fiction factory could hope to produce.

So why bring them up again? Why play their records over and over even when one has heard them all before?

Maybe because I’m already older now than Jim Morrison will ever be. Or maybe, it’s the dark magnificence of the men themselves. Stoned immaculate, electric shamans, orators of orgasmic rock – call them what you will. The music itself remains.

Perhaps drummer John Densmore described the power of the group the best.

He said, “People lost their virginity to this music, got high for the first time to this music. I`ve had people say kids died in Vietnam listening to this music, other people say they know someone who didn`t commit suicide because of this music. On stage, when we played these songs, they felt mysterious and magic. That`s not for rent.”

A game called go insane? Maybe. But first you have to listen.

For more information on The Doors please visit www.thedoors.com.

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