Strange Days, The Doors

This album is part of the “Face” album trilogy.  In high school I was in love with this boy whom I referred to as Face (I stole that from The Monkees: a girl nicknamed Davy Jones, my favorite Monkee, Face, because he was so darn cute), and there were three albums I listened to while I obsessed over him: Janis Joplin’s Pearl, The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, and The Doors’ Strange Days.  He never paid any attention to me, of course, so that deepened my angst and depression and increased my need to find solace in music like this.

 

A lot of the songs on Strange Days are depressing, but some are amusing, like “Love Me Two Times” and “People Are Strange.”  I’ve heard that “Love Me Two Times” is about oral sex. 

 

Love me one time

Could not speak

Love me one time

Yeah, my knees got weak


Love me two times, girl

Last me all through the week

 

Yeah, I can see that.  But at the time I was listening to it and dreaming about my future with Face, I wasn’t thinking about the lyrics like that.  I had plenty of fantasies about him, but the sadness I felt every day knowing that we were probably years away from being together was more powerful than my ideas about how to sexually conquer him.  I really thought more about what our daily life together would be like, and not just how often we’d be doin’ it.  I imagined all the drama we would have, and how that would fuel our sex life.  I knew he was a partier in junior high and high school, and I was the complete opposite of that.  I never smoked, drank, did drugs, stayed out late (or went out at all, really), or had sex.  He was apparently doing all of these things, according to a close friend of mine who knew all.  Most of my fantasies revolved around how fucked up we would be together.  We’d have lots of great sex, but mainly our love affair would be super-dysfunctional.  I thought that was more interesting than anything normal and stable.  A writer is supposed to have a lot of drama, and at that time I also wanted to be an actress, so that would naturally bring even more scandal and drama.  That mess is what I aspired to when I was in 9th grade.  Ugh.

Jim and Pam had all the drama I wanted to have!

In my old age I can see how ridiculous and disturbing that is, and though some of that sort of drama came true for me, Face was no part of it.  I pursued other fucked up guys in my 20s and 30s, and I think that sort of obsession started with Face.  He is not to blame for it, though, since he had no idea how I felt about him.  Surely, he noticed me staring at him all the time, but he really could not have known the extent of my passion.  And though he was not the first guy I liked who did not like me back, he was the one who made me feel like it was okay to destroy myself.  I don’t understand why I felt that way.  I didn’t really start drinking until I was almost 22, and by then I had moved on from thinking we would ever be together.  But now I definitely had that self-destructive streak and was ready to actively engage it. 

 

Strange days have found us

And through their strange hours we linger alone

Bodies confused, memories misused

As we run from the day to a strange night of stone

 

I mainly listened to side two of each album in the Face trilogy, but whenever I hear the opening track “Strange Days,” it takes me back immediately.  “You’re Lost Little Girl” comes on next, and this was really the perfect song for me.  I was so lost and sad and frustrated, and Face was my strange attempt to divert my attention from those things—by wallowing in them.  That is how I used to handle negative feelings.  A lot of people try to distract themselves from their own fucked up lives by trying to fix other peoples’ fucked up lives.  You want to make yourself indispensable to them, you want to be the one person they can always rely upon, you want to martyr yourself for them.  Yes, I tried that shit with many, many guys.  And guess how many times I saved them?

 

You’re lost, little girl

You’re lost, little girl

You’re lost, tell me who are you?


Think that you know what to do

Impossible? Yes, but it’s true

I think that you know what to do, yeah

Sure that you know what to do

 

“Unhappy Girl” is another perfect song for who I was then.  I was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and James Dean and all those other fucked up stars of the past, and I felt such a connection with them.  Not sure why.  I had a great childhood.  No reason to be a hot mess.  But I always felt weird and awkward and didn’t like myself much.  I often felt like I was bad, though I didn’t really do bad stuff, at least, nothing horrible, nothing that most kids don’t do once in a while.  I don’t know what my problem was.

 

Unhappy girl left all alone

Playing solitaire playing warden to your soul

You are locked in a prison of your own device

“Horse Latitudes” is total performance art.  Just weird, hippy shit that you really get into but cannot explain what is happening.  “I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind” is another weird song, one of those bizarre collections of images that really only make sense if you’re stoned. 

 

Carnival dogs
Consume the lines
Can’t see your face in my mind

 

Huh?  No idea what Jim Morrison was talking about here.  But the song is melancholy.  It’s the second to last on the album, coming right before my favorite one, so it kind of prepared me to be majorly emotionally drained by the high drama of the 11-minute epic “When the Music’s Over.” 

 

When the music’s over
When the music’s over
When the music’s over
Turn out the lights
Turn out the lights
Turn out the lights

 

And that’s what I needed to hear by the end of this album.  I was exhausted.  I was devastated.  I was ready to be done with everything. 

 

Cancel my subscription to the resurrection
Send my credentials to the house of detention
I got some friends inside

The face in the mirror won’t stop
The girl in the window won’t drop
A feast of friends, alive, she cried, waitin’ for me outside

 

Ray Manzarek’s keyboards on this song are phenomenal!  They fit so perfectly with Jim’s lyrics and vocals and the whole mood of this song, the quiet reflections and the screams of anger.  I cannot tell you how strongly I feel about this song, how much it impacted me then, and how much I still want to live inside it.  “When the Music’s Over” makes this album what it is, and it’s why I listened to side two all the time.  There is nothing like it.  It made me feel better and worse at the same time. 

 

That’s kind of how I felt about Face and all the unrequited loves after him.  I was happy to be devoted to someone, but they were definitely not devoted to me and often had no idea how I really felt about them.  I lived in a fantasy world for a very, very long time, imagining the life I wanted instead of actively trying to achieve it.  I am a planner, but that is not the same thing as being a doer.  I am a writer.  I always have been a writer.  But sometimes writers get caught in the trap of writing instead of living.  I wrote a lot in my teens and 20s about how miserable I was, how bored, how much I wished my life was more fabulous.  But I did very little to create that for myself.  It is always easier to complain instead of change.  Daydreaming was my full-time job, planning that fabulous life I wanted.  I wrote novels, I wrote poetry, I wrote short stories.  I submitted stuff to book publishers and magazine editors.  I got rejected most of the time, except for the few poems that were published in broadsides or anthologies I had to pay for.  And that was cool for me, but I had these great big stories I wanted to tell and nobody wanted to hear them. 

 

At a certain point, and this did not happen consciously, I stopped writing that stuff.  I didn’t keep a diary or journal.  I rarely wrote poetry.  I certainly didn’t work on a novel or short story.  I was doing something I thought of as living, but it was really more of an experiment in drama.  I got my wish to have a life filled with booze and sex—really, more booze than sex, but never the sex without the booze.  And it was not all I had dreamed it could be.  But I didn’t look at it as a bad thing; rather, it was what I knew I had to experience to become a great writer.  Everything I had written before that, all those thousands of pages I had soiled with prose in my youth, that was all bullshit because I knew nothing of the world.  But suddenly I felt like I knew what life was all about.  I always felt wise beyond my years, though I had no reason to feel that way.  But I did.  After several years of being a drunken whore I felt confident in my new wisdom about love and life and who I was supposed to be.  Now that I am even older and wiser, however, I see what bullshit that was, too.

 

Listening to The Doors always makes me think about deep shit like this.  It can take a toll.  I have been drama-free for about five years now, and it’s a better life—boring, but better.  Strange Days is one of those brilliant albums that can instantly transport me back to my 9th grade life.  I remember the clothes I wore and where I sat at lunch.  I remember the lengths I went to just to catch a glimpse of Face.  I am pretty sure I was the only kid in my school who had this connection to The Doors.  We all have music that inspires us and helps us and consoles us.  I’m not sure how other people react to this album.  It’s been an important part of my life for 25 years.  It will always be a part of my history.  And so will Face. 

For the music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end
Until the end
Until the end

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4 thoughts on “Strange Days, The Doors

  1. Pingback: Ray Manzarek’s Organ | What I Like Is Sounds

  2. Pingback: On the Occasion of the 45th Anniversary of Jim Morrison’s Death | What I Like Is Sounds

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