Friday, May 18, 2007

The Doors. Saratoga Performing Arts Center, September 1, 1968.

The opening band for The Doors was Earth Opera, a bunch of barefoot hippies that no one much wanted to see (but which included the later much esteemed Peter Rowan and Dave Grisman!). The Doors were supporting their third, and I believe finest (I am most certainly alone in that opinion!) record, Waiting For The Sun. They played Light My Fire, When The Music's Over, The End, and their big, fuzzed-out hit from that summer, Hello I Love You.

Hello I Love You was all over the radio that summer. That lyrical hook was later criticized for being inane - but, was it any more so than "Love Me Do?"   I loved the orchestrated fuzz, similar in some ways to the Beatles' single, Revolution, which would come out later that year. Hello had quite a fractured rhythmic groove. The chorus didn't have a straight  backbeat. The 2-bar phrase was cut up and divided into three distinct sequential ideas, with the keyboard and drums  playing in sync. The verse balanced this with the snare being squarely smacked on all 4 beats. Then there was that ghostly slide guitar part out there on its own, just before the coda. It was very reminiscent of the slide part in Hendrix's version of All Along the Watchtower, also released the same year.

Hello I Love You:

Of course, Light My Fire was their first and biggest hit. Coming out in January of 1967, as I just turned 11, it didn't make much of an impression on me.  It just seemed too mature for me to grasp. The mix of baroque, bossa nova, and jazz was beyond me. (My dad, at age 41, LOVED it!). As I listen to it now, the introduction, with its quickly modulating chord progression, is similar to Giant Steps, and that opening must have been a challenge to figure out for kids whose greatest ambition was only to be able to play the riff from Wipe Out, or Daytripper.

Light My Fire:

Coltrane's Giant Steps:

Morrison said nothing to the audience during the concert as I recall. Every song ended in a sudden blackout, and complete silence until the next song started. It was minimal, yet dramatically serious, and very, VERY loud.

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