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Date Posted: 13:23:22 11/16/06 Thu
Author: strawberry shortcake
Author Host/IP: awfnt.awf.org /
Subject: non-john: Quick Doors Interview

People still catching up to the Doors

POSTED: 4:00 p.m. EST, November 16, 2006

LOS ANGELES, California (Billboard) -- As they prepare to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their self-titled debut album, the surviving members of the Doors have been reflecting on their legacy.

The trio of keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore have collaborated with music journalist Ben Fong-Torres for "The Doors by the Doors," an oral history that was published last week by Hyperion.

They also spent time in the studio with longtime engineer Bruce Botnick, as he worked on remixing the Doors' six studio albums in 5.1 surround sound for archival label Rhino Records' "Perception" boxed set, due November 21.

Billboard recently spoke with Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore in separate phone interviews (Densmore and Manzarek don't talk, a product of an ongoing lawsuit) about the enduring appeal of their music. (Listen to Manzarek talk about some favorite Doors songs.)

Q. In your wildest dreams, did you ever think that people would still be listening to the songs that you recorded for your first album, four decades later?

MANZAREK: Hardly, but on the other hand, that's not (a musician's) concern. I don't think musicians play music thinking in terms of posterity. It's just the opposite. You have to think in that individual moment in time, the Zen moment in time.

And if you capture the energy, then you do what a musician is supposed to do. If by the grace of the gods on Mount Olympus you happen to be liked 40 years from now, that's only a testament to the Doors' audience as far as I'm concerned.

Q. What did your parents think of you playing this crazy rock 'n' roll at the time?

MANZAREK: They loved it, and then "Light My Fire" becomes the No. 1 song in America. What's not to like? My mother had three boys of her own, Raymond, Richard and James. So Jim Morrison comes along, and I introduced him and brought him down to Redondo Beach to bum a couple of free meals off my parents. My mother loved him. That's her fourth son. She cut his hair. She used to cut our hair and gave Jim a little trim, too.

Q. What were the influences that shaped the Doors' sound and what does each member of the band bring to the table?

DENSMORE: Ray grew up in Chicago so he had the blues, Muddy Waters and all that. He also had classical training. That was pretty cool. That was invoked in the intro to "Light My Fire," which was very kind of Bach-like. Robby had a flamenco and folk music background. I was so enamored with watching Robby's fingers crawl across the flamenco guitar strings like a crab.

I'm a jazz guy and Ray was also into jazz, so when we met we talked about (John) Coltrane and Miles (Davis). I think that influence gave me freedom. Like in "When the Music's Over," I just stopped playing the beat, and I would just comment on Jim's words percussively, out of rhythm, like we were having a conversation. I got that from listening to Elvin Jones and John Coltrane.

And then there was Jim, Mr. Literary, who had read every book on the planet, but didn't know anything about music and how to write songs and trusted us. Therefore, we were a total democracy.

We shared everything -- writing credits, veto power. Jim had melodies as well as words. He didn't know how to play a chord on any instrument, but he had melodies in his head. To remember the lyrics he would think of melodies and then they would stay in his head. He had melodies and lyrics in his head, and he would sing them a cappella, and we would eke out the arrangements.

Q. What in your mind is the essential Doors album?

DENSMORE: The first one had all the hits, but was poorly recorded. There were only four tracks. The second one was one of my faves because we got relaxed in the studio. We had fun experimenting.

The fourth and fifth (albums), we tried strings and horns. Those are good, the critics hated them, but I don't care. They were (both hit albums).

The last one, "L.A. Woman," gets back to who we really are. We got back to the essence. We produced it ourselves with Bruce Botnick and only did two takes on everything. F--- the mistakes, like Miles (Davis). I said that to Ray when we were recording, "Let's just go for the feeling and raw emotion."

Q. What inspired "Light My Fire"?

KRIEGER: At that point, Jim was writing the songs. I'd written maybe a couple before that but nothing too serious. One day Jim mentioned that we didn't have enough songs, so he said, "Why don't you guys try and write some songs."

So I went home and wrote "Light My Fire." It was the first song I wrote for the Doors. Jim came up with the second verse about the funeral pyre. Ray did the baroque intro and John came up with the kind of Latin drum beat.

When we would play "Light My Fire" for the live audience, everybody loved it, so we knew it was a special song. I knew if it was going to compete with Jim's stuff, it had to be pretty heavy duty.

So I figured, OK, I'll write about the four elements: earth, air, fire or water. I picked fire because I like the (Rolling) Stones song "Play With Fire."

Q. The Doors have been covered by hundreds of artists. Do you have any favorites?

DENSMORE: I'd say Jose Feliciano and X, because they found a new way of interpreting the songs they did. Jose made "Light My Fire" a ballad. That's very interesting. We didn't think of it that way when we wrote it. Echo & the Bunnymen just copied "People Are Strange," which is cool, we made some money, thanks. But when an artist finds a new interpretation of one of your songs, that's great. It turns your head around.

Q. What is it about the Doors' music that makes it so seemingly timeless?

KRIEGER: The Doors were just ahead of their time. It seems like what we were playing back then, the blues and stuff like that that we were into, were starting to catch on 10 years later. Because we were ahead of our time in our heyday, we weren't really that huge.

I don't think a lot of people really understood what the hell we were doing until later. Maybe just now people are waking up to the Doors' music.

Q. How would you like the Doors to be remembered?

KRIEGER: For the music. I think that's how we will be remembered in the long run, because all the movies, all the books and all that stuff eventually will go away, but the music will last for a long time. If you think about Count Basie or Duke Ellington, people don't really know who those guys were, but they do know the music. After 50 or 60 years, that's what's important.

Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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