LA Band Can’t Handle New York Pressure

Passing a winter evening with Light My Fire, the autobiography of Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek, I came upon this recollection of a traumatic moment:

We played Forest Hills with Simon and Garfunkel, a popular folk duo of the time. They were the kings of New York and we were the opening act. And it was terrible. In that very prestigious tennis center of the US Open we had the worst reception of our entire career. The audience hated us! They had come to see smarm and were instead getting a rock abyss from the opening act. And they hated it! Boos, catcalls, heckling, jeers, and whistles assaulted us as we tried to we weave a little night music around their empty heads.

Ha. I was in that crowd, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as that, Mr. Manzarek. Stop feeling so sorry for yourself.

Incidentally, no need to explain who Simon and Garfunkel were. Paul Simon has actually kept fairly busy over the years. And you?

But they didn’t want electric, they didn’t want Jung, they didn’t want the Doors. They wanted their soft boys. They wanted to be coated with honey toned harmonies. They did not want intensity. It was ultimately a battle between soft folk rock (very nice, very inoffensive), and West Coast psychedelic jazz rock. We lost. Badly.

This from the band that gave us poetry like,

“Oh, I’m gonna love you,
‘Til the heavens stop the rain.
I’m gonna love you,
‘Til the stars fall from the sky,
For you and I.”

or,

“Don’t ya love her madly,
Wanna be her daddy”

or,

“There’s a killer on the road,
His brain is squirmin’ like a toad.

and my own favorite, from Spanish Caravan,

“Andalusia with fields full of grain,
I want to see ya again and again.

Look, the Doors were a good AM singles band. You guys made some decent records before you slipped into self-parody somewhere around your third album. I dug what you did with that little Vox organ, and I really liked Krieger’s guitar work. But don’t give me that Jung crap; even your acknowledged classic is nothing more than moon, spoon, and June with minor chords:

“You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn’t get much higher.

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire, yeah

And your deep message here was?

“The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
And our love become a funeral pyre”

Talk about forced rhymes…. thank God y’all didn’t go for a third verse; we’d be hearing about a guy named Meyer and the National Enquirer.

The silliest thing is when you keep describing Jim Morrison in your book as a poet. Sure he was, and so was William McGonagall. Really bad poets.

Jim Morrison was a charismatic frontman who made his best career move by checking out early. (See Cobain, Kurt.) He’s still alive today, you’re playing casinos.

Jim said it was the worst gig he had ever played and the worst audience he had ever experienced.

Tough titty. Grow a thick skin or stay out of New York.

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