parodies by nacrowe
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photo & text by nacrowe
i remember around the turn of the millennium attending BOARDING SCHOOL away from my parents, who were stationed in NIGERIA at the time. i was in my mid-teens and it was quite the transition to not only be away from your family, but halfway around the world so. feeling ISOLATED in a bad situation where i was being HAZED upon routinely by upperclassmen and away from any support network was the context from which i discovered and experienced STRANGE DAYS (ELEKTRA, 1967) by THE DOORS within.
sonically the album is almost FELLINI-esque with its swirling organ phrases, specifically on tracks like "STRANGE DAYS," "UNHAPPY GIRL," "PEOPLE ARE STRANGE," "I CAN'T SEE YOUR FACE IN MY MIND," and "WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER." lyrically the album references themes of ALIENATION, SOCIAL/PSYCHIC ISOLATION and UNREQUITED LOVE. i know that for many their teenage experience was not pleasant, but my time in BOARDING SCHOOL was spent avoiding punishment by bored hockey players who saw my painted fingernails, dyed hair and NINE INCH NAILS shirts as target enough for their attention. and the adults just looked the other way. i got out unscathed but others didnt (linked HERE is an example that happened at another dorm during my time at the school). maybe that punishing and unforgiving atmosphere is why i read so much into JIM MORRISON's lyrics at the time. they seemed to revolve around the FUTILITY of trusting authority figures.
i believe high school is also a transformational period where you become aware of your body and your connection to other people. being shy and reserved by nature, i dont believe BOARDING SCHOOL did my any favors in figuring out how i related to the opposite sex. it was a beyond daunting and unreasonable ask to attempt to make connections with people of such PRIVILEGE, WEALTH and POWER. it was an ALIENATING and ultimately a TRAUMATIZING experience. to that end "YOU'RE LOST LITTLE GIRL" is another standout track that i deeply identified with, especially since it had this understated introductory guitar line that seamlessly transforms into a haunting layered organ figure, seemingly mimicking the UNREQUITED LOVE of a misunderstood female protagonist. to my ear at the time, it also was a sonic evocation of my emotionally battered sense of ISOLATION and growing inward trajectory based on living in HUMILIATION. BOARDING SCHOOL was a hostile situation and later attending high school in KUWAIT was even worse.
STRANGE DAYS is easily my favorite DOORS album and one that i constantly revisit since it is inextricably linked to this difficult period of youth. i feel it is an underrated achievement in MOOD and SONG CONSTRUCTION. there is a HAUNTING BEAUTY maintained throughout that is unique in their catalogue. as mentioned before, it was also the soundtrack to some of my darkest moments as a young adult.
it is most definitely worthy of revisiting.
photo & text by nacrowe
L.A. WOMAN (ELEKTRA, 1971) by THE DOORS is one of those quintessential albums that in essence culturally defines the complex seductive allure and devastating depravity that is the city of angels in the hearts and minds of many. the two standout tracks in that regard are the title track "L.A. WOMAN" and "RIDERS ON THE STORM."
the beauty of "L.A. WOMAN" is how JIM MORRISON personifies the city in that of a young female. there has always been this duality about living in LOS ANGELES whereby you are confronted with the end result of the hopes and dreams of people seeking to make it in the entertainment industry are met with the reality of failure. the optimism and delusional thinking of the daytime and the cruel, stark reality of lonely night-time reflection has been a trope utilized since noir films of the 1940s and 1950s to describe LOS ANGELES, and MORRISON does the same here in "L.A. WOMAN" when he asks "are you a lucky little lady in the city of light, Or just another lost angel, city of night." in MORRISON's hands, LOS ANGELES as a woman is fundamentally a false hope as her optimism and future hope leads to "motel money murder madness, Let's change the mood from glad to sadness." for me, that strange duality of hope and delusion, allure and depravity, camaraderie and jealousy is something that is intrinsically LOS ANGELES and very clearly showcased in this song specifically.
"RIDERS ON THE STORM" and its existential tale of a murder in the desert find THE DOORS at their experimental peak in terms of sonic and lyrical exploration. slow and prodding, it feels like a lonely car ride through a desert with a sublime storm on the horizon making one reconsider their life's path with existential dread. is the storm coming to wash away the world or its sins. hard to tell. again for me this song is also very much about LOS ANGELES, especially the experience of driving through the desert towards neighboring NEVADA or ARIZONA where it feels like civilization has been pulled back leaving you with a raw, harsh, almost elemental landscape devoid of people or responsibility, bother personal and moral. driving there is almost like being in a state of moral flux, where the rules dont matter. its a great metaphor for the city itself, which seems to thrive on an OUROBOROS-like ability to auto-cannibalize on itself, eating its inhabitants, spitting them out on its streets as disfigured and degraded versions of themselves. only to be met with new faces on a daily basis. the family murder on the road in "RIDERS ON THE STORM" always felt to me evocative of the then-recent TATE-LABIANCA murders by CHARLES MANSON and his followers, turning the idea of spiritual connection, hope and shared familiar affection on its head. what was beautiful about AMERICAN optimism (perennially evoked in the cultural image of LOS ANGELES) was now baseless physical cruelty and moral degradation. its a great song.
i have long been a fan of those two songs, which make L.A. WOMAN well worth revisiting and checking out again.