Last night, American Masters on PBS featured The Doors: When You're Strange. Johnny Depp narrated it—a good choice really, as his voice has that same deep and dreamy quality of Jim Morrison's. The content he was forced to read, however, was poor. Yes, Morrison was strange. He, at times, was known to slither around on the stage like a lizard. His words were trippy, and much of the time he stood with eyes half-closed; living in a cerebral cocoon with only a momentary glimpse into reality to recharge, or see where he'd traveled. But they painted a picture of a man who everyone hated, who destroyed a band, and who was such a freak that audiences only came to see out of curiosity only, and not as lovers of music. Wrong. I think the music, more than anything—more than Morrison—was what made people then, and now, come around in fascination.

I did like one line in the show, "The shadowy realms of dreams." Julia and I repeated it a few times to each other. She was busy making the needle from the spindle wheel in Sleeping Beauty. She had this whole thing set up in the other room with chairs and books piled up high, but then little Liam came and destroyed it all and ran off. Poor Julia. When she wanted him to be the prince, he refused and pretended to be asleep on the floor, so she bent over and kissed him (reversing the story completely, but she was desperate). Nothing. "OH! Liam won't wake up!" "I know," I said. "He's in the shadowy realms of dreams." She wasn't happy.

What American Masters failed to point out, was the fact that the strangeness of The Doors was not a tragedy. Morrison's life became a tragedy, but the band as a whole, was a success. Morrison was not a monster, and his strangeness was poetry to us listening strangers. He was art and poetry and we love(d) it.

I did enjoy the clips of Jim driving around in his '67 Shelby GT though. It weaved in and out of the documentary, and worked very well. I also enjoyed seeing Jim's interaction with fans; it showed how soft spoken, and nice, he was.

I think too many stories on The Doors have focused on the negative side of their career. But look how many songs were recorded, and their quality overall. Manzarek was a genius, playing bass with one hand on his keyboard and chords/solos with his other. Robby Krieger was a master of words, even teaching Morrison how to insert a double meaning into each lyric.

Much more could be celebrated, instead of inspected. All these years later, people are still being affected; drawn in; moved. Nothing strange about that.

Love this song. And Robby's black eye.


  1. I don't know much about The Doors, so this was really interesting. And I love 'the shadowy realm of dreams'. How evocative!

  2. I smoked my first dope to 'Strange' when it came out, and I will forever associate it with the hell of the Vietnam war and all the US draft dodgers with Canadian flags on their back-packs I met then. Haven't looked at the clip yet, but I will.

  3. Talli- don't you just love lines like that? They're fun to say.

    Tom- I can see why it would be hard to watch the video with so many emotional memories tagged to it.

  4. I'm with Talli completely on this one, I do not know much about the doors but I can definitely appreciate one hell of a line!

    You made me bust out laughing when you said that you share all your truths like a cheap hooker over at my blog!! I'm at work and got a ton of stares!!! It was worth it!

  5. Oh Jen! That's great. Sometimes I say things like that and I worry, but what the hell, I gotta be me. Glad it made you laugh!

  6. I loved watching this clip! The Doors were awesome and had some great music. That's too bad that documentary painted them in such a bad light. You'd have thought Johnny might have done a little on-air editing. :)


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