Friday, December 28, 2007
Light My Fire, The Doors (1967)
Some songs take you on a magic carpet ride back to their historical origins from their very first strains. Light My Fire, with its white-hot intro, is one of those songs.
Although I was only 14 at the time, I distinctly remember feeling in my bones that something had shifted in the zeitgeist with this recording. You didn't have to actually drop acid to sense a coming loss of innocence. It was a very unsettling time. Whenever I hear Light My Fire, I'm whisked back to those haunting feelings.
It's been suggested that Light My Fire precipitated a mass exodus from AM radio to FM, where the full 7 minutes of the song, with its hypnotic organ and guitar solo by Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, could be heard in its entirety. On AM, where all songs had to be less than 3 minutes in length, a truncated version was generally all you could hear, although some stations did feature a 4+-minute radio edit. I can't remember when I first heard the extended version, because I don't recall having access to progressive FM, also known as AOR or album-oriented, radio stations until a few years later. Completists had to buy the album.
Manzarek did a lengthy interview with Terry Gross in 1998 in which he deconstructs the creation of the song. It's well worth listening to, and gives a fabulous peek into the musicianship involved. It also underscores the notion that The Doors were a group in the best sense of the word, not just a Jim Morrison star vehicle, in that their mesmerizing output was a synthesis of all of their considerable talents.