#695: 1967, The Doors, Light My Fire

by Jackie_South on May 22, 2013

A real dilemma today on which song to go for.  On the one hand, the great Ray Manzarek passed away on Monday.  On the other, George, a few friends and I went to Steve Earle‘s great gig yesterday at the Royal Festival Hall.

Mr Earle will have to wait (although I can heartily urge you all to go out to buy the fantastically musically varied and emotionally rich The Low Highway which the tour is promoting).  It would simply be wrong not to mark Ray Manzarek’s passing.

I have chosen what is probably The Doors‘ most famous song, and the one that I believe that showcases Manzarek’s keyboard skills most brilliantly.  The Doors are a band that I loved as a teenager but tired of in my early twenties, in significant part as a result of Olive Stone’s dire biopic and a realisation of quite how pretentious Jim Morrison was.

But none of that detracts from Manzarek’s genius on the song that first made the band’s name.  A manic riff on Bach, blended in with a swirling fairground wurlitzer organ sound played with his right hand, a bassline played with the left to replace the traditional bass role in what was then a groundbreaking move.  There is an utterly mad energy to the playing that is both carefully structured yet feels at times as if it has run completely off-track: a legacy of Manzarek’s jazz roots.

So, there is blues, jazz, classical and chirpy fairground tussling with each other in a psychodelic soup, allowing Morrison’s vocals and Robby Krieger’s guitar to float over. And sustained over seven minutes!

It may be two decades since I’ve listened to this regularly, but returning to it now shows where the real talent lied in The Doors.

Ray Manzarek, RIP.

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: