Tag Archive: The Doors

“The trash collected by the eyes and dumped into the brain, said it tears into our conscious thoughts, you tell me who’s to blame?” — W.A. Rose

Last spring I was up in the NEO, I think it was for Mi Madre’s Day, and I stopped by The Exchange in Willoughby and found a few of the albums for this list.  This one was $6.00.  And generally I like The Who a lot, so I was pretty excited to listen to it.  But this album is kind of weird.  It’s not bad, just weird.  It sort of reminds me of how rap albums in the 90s would contain skits and stuff between the songs.  In this case, it’s commercials, some real and some fake, interspersed throughout.  The result is somewhat humorous, which I think was the intent, but it isn’t exactly hilarious.  But maybe I’m just jaded.  As for the actual songs, they are pretty good, but overall it isn’t on the level of the stuff on Who’s Next or Tommy (although there is a surprise use of material from “The Underture” towards the end).  The only real stand out for me is “I Can See for Miles”, and that’s because it’s the only song where Roger Daltrey really lets loose.  Townshend sings way too much on this album in his high wispy voice.  And it’s almost as if Daltrey was forced to sing in Townshend’s style on many of the other tracks.  And John Entwistle sings a few character type songs like “Silas Stingy” to a somewhat humorous effect.  But props to Kieth Moon…the drumming is pretty stellar on this record.  That actually might be the highlight for me.

This album does, however, raise the question of what is considered “selling out” in the music industry.  Musicians seem to have pretty strict, unwritten rules about selling out, especially in some of the more extreme punk and indie rock communities.  Now, these rules don’t apply to other types of celebrities.  Pro-athletes hock everything from shoes to jeans to pizza to underwear (and college athletes probably would too if the NCAA would allow it).  And while it seems to be frowned upon for most A-list actors to appear in commercials, that doesn’t seem to have stopped Matthew McConaughey from appearing in ads for cars and liquor.  And it makes me sad every time I see Sam Jackson, the baddest mofo in the Tarantinoverse, trying to sell me a credit card.  But for musicians, selling a song to a commercial triggers instantaneous criticism and a lack of credibility.  Jim Morrison famously blocked the rest of The Doors from selling “Light My Fire” to a car commercial.  I was recently disappointed to hear Public Enemy’s “Shut ‘Em Down” in a shoe commercial, mostly due to the irony that the song originally blasted that particular shoe company back in the 90s for not being socially responsible.  And I thought the world was going to end when I saw Bob Dylan in a super bowl commercial a few years ago.  It is an interesting conundrum…musicians obviously have the right to profit from the songs they write, but they are frowned upon for doing so in a commercial manner.  Is it because we hold musicians to a higher standard?  Do we expect musicians to maintain a certain ideal level of integrity?  Are we looking for musicians to be the voice of truth and social justice in our society?  I actually think we do, and I’m okay with it.  And at any rate, I really don’t buy anything because somebody famous endorses it.  Actually, often times I refuse to buy something because someone I don’t like is endorsing it (I’m looking at you Padre John).  I just hope I never see Thom Yorke or Axl Rose trying to sell me a new car or a pair of sunglasses.

Other Lists: “I Can See for Miles” is #262 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  It is #2 on the list of the 50 Greatest Songs by The Who, along with “Tattoo” at #19, “Sunrise” at #24, “I Can’t Reach You” at #43, and “Relax” at #49.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped two spots from it’s rank of #113 on the original list.

My favourite track: “I Can See for Miles”

Honourable mention: “Tattoo”

Quote: “Me and my brother were talking to each other ’bout what makes a man a man.  Was it brain or brawn or the month you were born?  We just couldn’t understand.”



Sweet Baby James

I’ve referenced it before on this blog, but when I was a wee little boy mi madre had this big wood paneled console stereo that had a turntable, an 8-track player, and a radio.  And I used to love to stand and watch the records spin for hours at a time.  But I also loved the 8-track player because it had these red lights that would indicate which track was playing, and there was always this big mechanical thunk every time it switched tracks.  Sometimes that big thunk even happened mid-song.  Well, most of mi madre’s albums were on vinyl, but JT was on 8-track.  And I remember hearing “Fire and Rain” at a very young age, and realizing it was a great song even then.

Fast forward several years to my high school days, and scamming BMG for as many free CDs as possible.  JT’s Greatest Hits package was one of those free CDs, and it made the trip with me down to Olde Columbus Towne when I started college.  The Artistic One and I were rooming together in Lincoln Tower, and despite the fact that we were trying to be tragically hipster and listening to lots of Nine Inch Nails mixed with heavy doses of The Doors and the Beastie Boys, we would frequently put JT on the stereo when we wanted to hear something soothing.  I think the Artistic One’s parents had exposed him to JT in his youth as well, and it was something that took us both back to simpler times when all hell was breaking loose around us in the dorm.

Fast forward a few more years, and in my first year of teaching in Newark, Ohio (pronounced Nerk by the locals) and there was a large section of 70s pop tunes in the choral music library.  So I found an SATB arrangement of “Fire and Rain” and I started to teach it to the 8th grade choir.  Well, it had taken awhile to win these kids over, but they had genuinely grown to like me.  But they hated this song at first.  Like truly hated it.  But then I tried to explain to them that it had meant something to me when I was younger and they gave it a shot.  And then some urban legend developed that this song reminded me of an ex-girlfriend who had died, which was totally untrue, but it motivated the kids so I never completely denied it, and the kids got real good at it and it wound up on our spring concert.  Hey, whatever works, right?

So yeah, I make fun of JT a bit for being about the only dude in the whole California folk-singer/songwriter movement of the early 70s.  And it does seem like he shoes up for guest vocals on a lot of his ex-girlfriends records from that era (and apparently Carole King wrote “You’ve Got a Friend” as a response to “Fire and Rain”).  But the truth is I dig JT, and especially this album of his, quite a bit.  He was discovered by the Beatles and was one of their first signings to the Apple music label, and if the Beatles dug it, it gots to be good, right?  I picked this album up at the Half Price Books on Lane Avenue for $4.99.  The case was broken, which is a pet peeve of mine, so I switched it out, and now it sits proudly on my CD shelf.  If only I could find an 8-track copy…

Other lists: “Fire and Rain” is ranked #227 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs.  JT is ranked #74 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers and #84 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped one spot from its initial ranking of #103 (we are still feeling the aftershocks of the meteoric rise of Kid A).

My favorite track: “Fire and Rain”

Honorable mention: “Sweet Baby James”

Quote: “People live from day to day, but they do not count the time.  They don’t see their days slippin’ by…and neither do I.”