Today’s music video is Light My Fire and the song is performed here by The Doors.
This video was posted to You Tube by Marc McDonald
I have lost count of the number of times I have gone out and got hold of an album because of something I have heard on late night radio, and in this case, it was directly because of the song I have featured today. This song was originally released in 1967, and I heard it on the radio at the time, as it was a relatively minor hit here in Australia, and in fact, the later cover version of this song performed by Jose Feliciano was a bigger hit here in Australia than the original. The song was okay I thought, but not enough to make want to shell out my hard earned to buy their album.
Jim Morrison died in late 1971, and that’s when I heard the song I have featured today, the longer, original version of the song. I was driving home on leave from the Air Force here in Australia to my family home 500 miles away, and it was late at night when I heard the news. It didn’t mean all that much to me, because I wasn’t really a huge fan of the band, but after the news story, the announcer came back on air and said that in a tribute to Jim Morrison, he would play their big hit, only in this case, that longer original version, and it was a lot longer at more than 7 minutes, while the Single released for radio play was not even three minutes long. As soon as Jim’s first set of vocals finished, the long instrumental break in the middle of the song started, and that made me take notice. That whole Instrumental break lasted for four and a half minutes and was left out, virtually the whole of it, for the radio Single version. I now just loved this song.
I went out looking for the album with this long version on it, their first self titled album, but the only album the record shop had was their latest release, a compilation album titled 13. I wanted to be certain that the song was indeed the long version, and it was. It’s the only Doors album I do have.
As soon as people hear the name of the band The Doors, the only name they think of is Jim Morrison, that flawed singer with a reputation as a wild man which gave the band its notoriety. Seldom can people name one other member of the band. They were Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger, and John Densmore. While The Doors were only a star band for just on four years, a relatively short time, and then the band virtually folded with Morrison’s death, Ray Manzarek is renowned as one of the most influential musicians on keyboards in the history of the modern music era, and Robbie Krieger has also been rated as one of the best guitarists in the modern music era. Both of them had long and influential music careers after The Doors folded, and while members of that band, very few people can name them.
This band is somewhat anomalous in the music industry. Most bands of that era were guitar bands, with a lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. Some bands had keyboards players, but very few bands at all got by with no dedicated Bass Guitarist. The Doors had no bass guitarist, and while most people associate the drums with keeping the timing, that bass guitarist was the one who supplied the Rhythm beat, the background essential for most modern music. Here’s where the keyboards player Ray Manzarek came in, and imagine how difficult this must have been. He played the main keyboards with one hand while his other hand he played a Fender Rhodes PianoBass. For some of the recording sessions in the studio, the band used a session bass guitarist, hence the fuller sound of studio versions of their songs, but for all live performances the band gave, Ray played the Piano Bass. His main music instrument was that ubiquitous electronic keyboard most favoured by touring bands with a keyboards player, the Vox Continental. The music it produced was not as full in sound as the legendary Hammond B3 which a lot of keyboards players preferred, but it was only a fraction of the weight to be carting around during the times when the band was on tour.
This clip I have featured today is the studio version of the song, and while there are a number of live performance clips of this song, very few of them feature the intricate play here of Ray’s keyboards first and then Robbie’s guitar coming in for his section of that long Instrumental break. The Doors best work, musically speaking was in the studio, when everything could be perfect for that final version of the song for the record. Those live performances, while some of them okay, tend to concentrate mainly on Jim Morrison. The cameras follow his every move, mainly waiting for something outrageous to happen, and mostly it did. His vocals during these live performances could be best described as average at best, mainly because of his flaws, whilst in the studio, they could take the absolute best of the work.
The whole of a band can be best described by what is happening with everyone in the band, while with The Doors, there was this inordinate concentration on Jim Morrison. While this of itself was what made the band so huge, it could not have been achieved without the backing of those other fine musicians.
While this song (credited as a writing whole to the band overall, but mainly written by Robbie Krieger) is perhaps their best known song, I much prefer another song from that first album, and also on that compilation album I have, 13, and that song is The Crystal Ship, written by Jim Morrison, and again, I like it for the beautiful keyboards from Ray Manzarek.
The band is known mainly for Jim Morrison, but it is hard to imagine them being as good as they were without the music produced by Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger, and this one song features that as the best example of the interplay between guitar and keyboards.