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.