The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

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The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  eddie on Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:41 am

The Doors by Greil Marcus – review

Can a new biography of the Doors relight the fire?

Richard Williams

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 5 January 2012 09.00 GMT


A product of hedonistic Los Angeles … the Doors in 1968. Photograph: Gunter Zint/Redferns

The author of Mystery Train and Invisible Republic is in the habit of offering such compelling and unexpected insights into the popular music of the second half of the last century that I approached Greil Marcus's latest book wondering if it would cure me of an indifference to the Doors dating back to a time, 45 years ago, when initial enthusiasm was followed by a swift disengagement from what seemed an increasingly hollow combination of weak poetry and derivative music.


The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years
by Greil Marcus

Just as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones represented contrasting impulses at work in the British pop music of the first half of the 1960s (north-country diligence and inventiveness versus metropolitan loucheness and unashamed pastiche, to put it in the loosest possible terms), so the divergent tendencies of American rock, as it had become known by the later years of the decade, were exemplified by the Velvet Underground and the Doors, the two most influential US bands of their era.

Like the Beatles, the members of the New York-based Velvet Underground were interested in authentic innovation and possessed the collective inquisitiveness and the individual musical resources to help them achieve their aims, even though, unlike their Liverpool counterparts, their work failed to find an audience until long after they had ceased to exist. The Doors, a product of hedonistic Los Angeles, resembled the Stones in showing less of an interest in finding an original way to develop their roots in black rhythm and blues than in simply casting a spell over their audience, one reflecting what Brian Eno has called "the nagging, dark, seductive undertow of the great liberalisation": a mood of disquiet, exacerbated by assassinations and conspiracy theories, that crept across and ultimately overwhelmed the cheerful optimism of Carnaby Street and Haight-Ashbury.

Although they enjoyed big hits (something the Velvets never managed) and had a movie of their story made by Oliver Stone, the counter-culture's own DW Griffith, the Doors were easily the weakest of the four bands. In essence their public career lasted from the appearance of their first recordings in 1966 until the death of their singer, Jim Morrison, in 1971, following the release of their final studio album; a couple of spurts of popularity followed among new generations of listeners impressed by what is usually referred to as Morrison's "shamanic" quality and his unexplained death, at the fateful age of 27.

This relatively modest book, subtitled "A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years", is divided into short chapters (ranging in length from 16 words to 26 pages) in which the author meditates on the experience of listening to a particular Doors song, sometimes taken from a studio album, more often from bootlegged concert recordings. This is an attempt to find meanings, both revealed and imposed, and often Marcus quite intentionally writes as though he is under the influence of the sort of drugs recommended for listeners to such music in the era when the name of Owsley Stanley, the leading LSD chemist, was revered as greatly as those of all but the most famous rock stars. The descriptions of some of the extended concert recordings – of "Soul Kitchen" and "Light My Fire", for example – mirror the self-indulgence of the band's performances, which is perhaps the effect Marcus intended. But he also pins down their fatal defect: "the germ of trash and chart-chasing at the heart of the high, churchlike seriousness of the band at its most distinctive".

Despite the sharpness of his intellect, the vigour of his writing and the breadth of his references, Marcus can't entirely rescue the Doors from the mediocrity into which they so often drifted, and once or twice, notably in the essay on pop art which he mystifyingly inflicts on the song "Twentieth Century Fox", the vessel capsizes altogether, unbalanced by the freight of the author's imagination. However he did make me go back to the five albums, which were once snapped up, in the days before simultaneous international release, as high-priced imports by the wealthier sort of hippie but can now be had as a package for little more than the price of this book.

Morrison's voice, veering between a croon and a bawl, can still sometimes sound risibly melodramatic, but I emerged having enjoyed the straightforward folk-rock of the early "Take It As It Comes" and the bar-room boogie of the late "Roadhouse Blues", both subjected to Marcus's characteristic exegesis, the latter provoking the author's poetic and typically fearless insight into the continuing survival of such music: "It was more than 40 years on the air, the song keeping up with the times, the song moving on as if it had seen and then countenanced every new twist in history in advance, the song not defeated or reduced or softened by time but matching it beat by beat, step by step." And it must be acknowledged that the 11 minutes and 39 seconds of "The End", although cheapened by a now inescapable association with Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, represent a remarkable marriage of aspiration and content, the seductive drones of music matching the startling images that saunter out of Morrison's ambitious lyric, a juxtaposition of ancient and modern powerful enough to collapse time.

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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  eddie on Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:52 am

The Doors of Perception

To start the year on a suitably strung-out note, Aldous Huxley's personal research notes on mescalin
Sam Jordison

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 4 January 2012 13.19 GMT

All of the January suggestions have been mixed together in a leopard-spotted hat, and it has delivered its choice: The Doors Of Perception by Aldous Huxley.


The Doors of Perception: And Heaven and Hell
by Aldous Huxley

I couldn't have planned things better – although the choice of The Doors Of Perception is a victory for democracy as well as fate, since it was the most popular choice in the quiet Twixtmas nominations stage. It's worth noting, mind you, that the book did also register a negative comment from everythingsperfect, who said:

"Not keen on Huxley… I haven't read Doors of Perception, but I find his style irritating. But who knows, maybe he is better on acid."

S/he then added: "I mean Huxley on acid, not me."

In truth, I'd be interested to hear opinions either way. If anyone has read Huxley while on acid, do let us know how he stacks up. In the meantime, his thoughts on acid (or, to be strictly accurate, mescalin) definitely seem worth perusing to me. Skimming through the book I've already spotted two wonderful quotes:


"The mescalin taker sees no reason for doing anything in particular and finds most of the causes for which, at ordinary times, he was prepared to act and suffer, profoundly uninteresting. He can't be bothered with them, for the good reason that he has better things to think about."

And:

"We walked out into the street. A large pale blue automobile was standing at the curb. At the sight of it, I was suddenly overcome by enormous merriment. What complacency, what an absurd self-satisfaction beamed from those bulging surfaces of glossiest enamel! Man had created the thing in his own image – or rather in the image of his favoUrite character in fiction. I laughed till the tears ran down my cheeks."

Who knew that the book which had such an influence on bores like Jim Morrison could be so funny? I'm very much looking forward to reading the rest – and investigating the book's wider cultural influence over the next few weeks. And, good news! The delightful folk at Vintage have offered us 10 copies of the book to give away, to the first 10 people who ask for one in the comments.

Let's turn on and tune in ...

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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  Yakima Canutt on Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:46 pm

Peppermint, miniskirts, chocolate candy, Champion sax and a girl named Sandy. All our lives we sweat and save, building for a shallow grave. Mad


LAMERICA
a po-em by Drinkin Jimmy Mo'son

Clothed in sunlight
restled in waiting
dying of fever

Changed shapes of an empire
Starling invaders
Vast promissory notes of joy

Wanton, willful & passive
Married to doubt
Clothed in great warring monuments
of glory

How it has changed you
How slowly estranged you
Solely arranged you

Beg you for mercy



drunken






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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  Yakima Canutt on Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:26 pm

I see the bathroom is clear Idea
I think that somebody's near Shocked
I'm sure that someone is following me, oh yeah

Why did you throw the Jack of Hearts away? Rolling Eyes
It was the only card in the deck that I had left to play Mad





farao farao farao

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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  Yakima Canutt on Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:19 pm



There's only four ways to get unraveled
One is to love your neighbor 'til
His wife gets home

When all else fails
We can whip the horse's eyes
And make them sleep
And cry

But it's getting harder
To describe sailors
To the underfed

The monk bought lunch

Ha ha, he bought a little
Yes, he did
Woo!


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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  Yakima Canutt on Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:27 am

guardian wrote: risibly

Filchfact: "RISIBLE" is the very faevourite word of "united kingdom" critics. The more you know.


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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  Yakima Canutt on Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:41 am

I would've attended the same public high school as Greil Marcus but by my era, the place was 2 overrun by Pacific Islanders etc. Bob Weir also went there. He was dizzlexic and this encouraged him to be the rock star so he could prove himself to the Holy Ghost. One night when he was 16 he passed by an open door on University Avenue and he heard a banjo hammered by Jerry Garcia. So Bob asked Jerry to show him the licks and then said, Come let us Change the Music Forever. But anyway back to Greil. He grew up in one of those Mid-Pen EICHLER homes. If you dont know an Eichler home, you can see a digital cartoon version of one in the hit Pixar picture called THE INCREDIBLES. Joseph Eichler (1900–1974) was a 20th century post-war U.S. American real estate developer known for developing distinctive residential subdivisions of Mid-Century modern style Tract housing in California, United States. He was one of the influential advocates of bringing modern architecture from custom residences and large corporate buildings to general public availability. His company and developments named "Eichler Homes" remain in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles regions of western California.

Between 1950 and 1974, Joseph Eichler's company, Eichler Homes, built over 11,000 homes in nine communities in Northern California and homes in three communities in Southern California. They all came to be known as Eichlers or an Eichler. During this period, Eichler became one of the nation's most influential builders of modern homes. The largest contiguous Eichler Homes development is 'The Highlands' in San Mateo, built between 1956 and 1964.

Unlike many developers of the post war housing boom, Joseph Eichler was a social visionary and commissioned designs primarily for middle-class Americans. One of his stated aims was to construct inclusive and diverse planned communities, ideally featuring integrated parks and community centers. Eichler, unlike most builders at the time, established a non-discrimination policy and offered homes for sale to anyone of any religion or race. In 1958, he resigned from the National Association of Home Builders when they refused to support a non-discrimination policy.

Joseph Eichler used well-known architects to design both the site plans and the homes themselves. He hired the respected architect and Wright disciple Robert Anshen of Anshen & Allen to design the initial Eichlers, and the first prototypes were built in 1949. In later years, other Eichler Homes by other architects were built including those designed by: the San Francisco firm Claude Oakland & Associates; and the Los Angeles firms of Jones & Emmons, A. Quincy Jones, and Raphael Soriano.

Eichler homes are from a branch of Modernist architecture that has come to be known as "California Modern," and typically feature glass walls, post-and-beam construction, and open floorplans in a style indebted to Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe. Eichler Homes exteriors featured flat and/or low-sloping A-Framed roofs, vertical 2-inch pattern wood siding, and spartan facades with clean geometric lines. One of Eichler's signature concepts was to "Bring the Outside In," achieved via skylights and floor-to-ceiling glass windows with glass transoms looking out on protected and private outdoor rooms, patios, atriums, gardens, and swimming pools. Also of note is that most Eichler homes feature few, if any, front-facing (that is, street-facing) windows, with those that do exist being either small ceiling level windows or small rectangular windows with frosted glass which is contrary to most other architectural designs which have almost all front rooms featuring large windows.

The interiors had numerous unorthodox and innovative features including: exposed post-and-beam construction; tongue and groove decking for the ceilings following the roofline; concrete slab floors with integral radiant heating; lauan ( Philippine mahogany ) paneling; sliding doors for rooms, closets, and cabinets; and a standard second bathroom located in the master bedroom. Later models introduced the famous Eichler entry atriums, an open-air enclosed entrance foyer designed to further advance the Eichler concept of integrating outdoor and indoor spaces.

Eichler homes were airy and modern in comparison to most of the mass-produced, middle-class, postwar homes being built in the 1950s. At first potential home buyers, many of whom were war-weary ex-servicemen and women seeking convention rather than innovation, were resistant to the innovative homes. Eichler also faced competition from other developers who used stylistic elements of Eichler homes in diluted and more conventional designs, later called "Eichleresque." Eichler Homes never achieved large profits for Joseph Eichler.

In his biography by Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs credited living in an "Eichler Home" when growing up as the main inspiration for developing an aesthetic sensibility for the modernist and for the simple. That Steve Jobs lived in an Eichler was recently disproven by researchers at the Eichler Network, who discovered and confirmed that Jobs' boyhood home was a similarly-styled mid-century modern by another builder.

Stopping the press! The Parr family home in the Pixar animated feature Los Incredibles is actually probably an Alexander home—another type of tract-home design similar to Eichlers.

~The neighborhood seen in the 2008 film The Speed Racer includes a number of digitally re-created Eichler houses.

~The Palo Alto Facebook house in the 2010 film The Social Networks appears to be an Eichler.




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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  Yakima Canutt on Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:44 am

Note: The Marcus book is not a "biography"

Marcus is not interested in a songwriter's meaning but a listener's response, and the impetus for "The Doors" came from punching the buttons on his car radio. His father was dying, and in regular drives from Berkeley to San Francisco to visit him, Marcus noticed that in a 45-minute round trip, he would hear at least one song by the Doors.

This went on for three years, "and I thought, 'What is this about?' " he says. "Why are these songs everywhere, and why do almost all of them sound so great, so alive as if they are still reaching people, not just people like me, but for the first time? So I thought, 'OK, I'll write a book about that.' "

This radio experiment starts one of the essays in the book, and it sounds gimmicky until you try it. The drive from The Chronicle to Marcus' door in the East Bay takes 20 minutes, and 18 minutes into it while constantly switching stations, the Doors have not been played.

Then you're in front of Marcus' house when "People Are Strange" comes on Oldies 103.7, and to hear it all the way through, you have to park and sit for a few minutes. It sets the mood for what you expect will be an hour or two listening to the Doors on vinyl, hearing about the dozen or more Doors shows that Marcus saw in the late 1960s.

But when you step into his home office and look around for the albums, they aren't there. Marcus sold off most of the vinyl when he moved from North Berkeley to just over the line in Oakland this year, just before he wrote "The Doors." He has CDs, mostly live bootlegs, but he doesn't volunteer to put anything on, and if you want to get on his bad side, just mention the word "nostalgia."

"Fundamentally a destructive impulse that bleeds the life out of you," he says, dispensing with that topic. It doesn't strike him as ironic that his target audience might be Baby Boomers prone to nostalgic reveries.

"Here I am writing about a band that only existed for a very few years in the late '60s, and I wanted to make this book about the music - not about the late '60s," Marcus says. "I wanted to take that music out of its context and put it in a new context, which is the present moment."



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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  Yakima Canutt on Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:57 am

user wrote:Peppermint, miniskirts, chocolate candy, Champion sax and a girl named Sandy. All our lives we sweat and save, building for a shallow grave. Mad


LAMERICA
a po-em by Drinkin Jimmy Mo'son

Clothed in sunlight
restled in waiting
dying of fever

Changed shapes of an empire
Starling invaders
Vast promissory notes of joy

Wanton, willful & passive
Married to doubt
Clothed in great warring monuments
of glory

How it has changed you
How slowly estranged you
Solely arranged you

Beg you for mercy



drunken







sorry about this, I guess I did a "copy 'n' paste" from a wrongly transcribed dingusnet source. It's supposed to be "restless in wanting" not "restled in waiting" my bad.

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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  senorita on Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:15 pm

What's the frequency Kenneth?


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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  Yakima Canutt on Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:37 pm

I was referring primarily to Tongans. Lacking the integrity of the Samoan and the joy de vivers of the Hawaiian, the Tongan is known for his wry, dry humours and his fierce if tubby thuggish brutishness etc.



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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  senorita on Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:57 am



What's the frequency Kenneth?



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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  felix on Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:52 am






Who dis Tonga dis me.

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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  senorita on Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:37 pm

What's the frequency Kenneth?


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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  pinhedz on Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:32 pm

Pinzego wrote:Understandable English only please!
Wasamala you wasamala Felix? You wasamala!


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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  senorita on Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:36 pm

What's the frequency Kenneth?


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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  felix on Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:43 am

pinhedz wrote:
Pinzego wrote:Understandable English only please!
Wasamala you wasamala Felix? You wasamala!

I say! I'm terribly sorry!! - bad attack of goombayitis there Shocked - all shipshape and Bristol fashion now, though pirat - what were we saying? scratch

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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  Yakima Canutt on Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:29 pm

I think we were coming to the consensus that the unused Version #1 of MOONLIGHT DRIVE from the sessions of the debut album really is really the definitive version of MOONLIGHT DRIVE. Rob's geetar is at its most lysergic and James' vocals are more pensive than in the cockier rendition of the song in later offishal incarnation. Furthermore, the more fluid vibe of Unused Version #1 better fits the ambience of druggy moonlight driving than is to be found in the more herky-jerky offishal version. Yep. Oh, also Unused Version #1 features thematically approp. motorik organ while as offishal has rote piano plunking, +1 again for UV1.




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Re: The Doors- Greil Marcus biography

Post  Yakima Canutt on Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:32 pm

Yes, user, I agree. I didn't much care for that tune until I heard the alternate take you describe. Good call. cheers



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