Waiting for the sun in 2015


The number one album in America for the week that I was born was the Doors’ Waiting for the Sun. I’ve loved the Doors since I was in grammar school, and I was pleased to learn they were on top when I entered the world. And the title of this, their third studio album, seems very fitting this year.

With the Charlie Hedbo shooting in Paris, the death of Stuart Scott, and the horrible story about young Phoebe Jonchuck, this new year hasn’t given anything in the way of good news yet. It’s coming, I hope, but so far the returns aren’t good. And winter is just setting in where I live, too. Some good news would really help at this time.

Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting…..


When the music’s over


I love the Doors. When I was a kid, back around my freshman year of high school, I taught myself how to draw the Doors’ geometric logo because it, like their music, spoke to me. I will always hold their music as a part of my life, even if I was only three when Jim Morrison died in Paris in 1971.

Like most people, I don’t immediately think of Ray Manzarek when I think of the Doors. It was a band, but Jim Morrison was–and will always be–its towering presence.  But without Ray Manzarek there was no band, and that’s why his death today hits me as it does. Fortunately, the music that he wrote and created can never be taken away.

Music is your only friend, until the end…..

The future’s uncertain and the end is always near

As I was showering this morning, grateful to have another day on this planet, the Doors’ Roadhouse Blues came into my head for some reason. I’ve loved the Doors for as long as I can remember, and I even discussed their music with my mom recently, and she apparently liked their music in her youth, too. I’ve always thought well of her, and the word that she liked the band–even when most of her friends did not–was an added point or two in her favor.

So my question is: Was the title line for this post written to complete the “I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer” couplet, or was it the other way around? I’m hoping the beer line was written after the deep philosophy about life line, but I guess since Morrison’s not around to answer the question, we’ll never know, either. But at least now the question has been asked.

Hope everyone enjoys their day.

Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?

Picture from The DoorsBlog

If I had to choose one book that changed my life, my answer wouldn’t be one of the usual suspects. It wouldn’t be Catcher in the Rye or anything like that. No, the book that I would give that honor to would be Danny Sugarman’s No One Here Gets Out Alive, a biography of Jim Morrison. I still have my copy of it somewhere, and I’ll never part with it. So don’t ask for it, all right?

I bring this up because I picked up two of the Doors’ CDs (their debut disc and Waiting for the Sunat a yard sale today, for the grand sum of one dollar. For about what an iTunes download would cost, I have recovered two elements of my long-gone vinyl collection.

I used to hope that my parents were cool enough to listen to the Doors once upon a time. After all, Waiting For the Sun was the number one album on the day that I was born. I’ve never really asked them what they listened to back then, but I can’t recall anything more interesting than Beatles ’65 in their vinyl collection. No Rolling Stones, no Doors, nothing that I would want to incorporate into my own collection someday. But I’ll hold onto my illusions, I guess.

The Sugarman book presents Morrison as a god-like figure. I was in Catholic school at the time, but the book of Sugarman held far more interest to me than anything the nuns were offering. I learned about rock and roll, and creativity, and doing what you want to do, instead of what other people tell you to do. Morrison tapped into the rock zeitgeist, and it was what cost him his life one day in Paris. But it was the life that he wanted to have, and that’s always been something I admired.

Many people didn’t “get” Jim Morrison in 1968. My high school English teacher labeled him a “druggie with a death wish,” which is possibly the only thing he said that I can still remember. But with the help of Sugarman’s book, I got Morrison. He was an artist. He listened to his inner voice. Some people didn’t want to hear what he had to say (or sing), but that wasn’t important. He wrote his poetry and put it out there for the world to judge it or ignore it, as they saw fit.

And so, forty years after his death, somebody like me can pick up his art and feel like he accomplished something. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go put on some music.

Takin’ care of business is his name

I heard an interesting combination of songs on the radio yesterday. Songs, in and of themselves, can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Either they’re played in sequence on an album, and if you’ve listened to the album enough, you know what to expect when that song is over. On the first Van Halen album, for instance, Eruption and You Really Got Me are two different songs, technically, but if Eruption ended and anything else came on, I’d be all out of sorts.

The second way is as part of a playlist, as in a mixtape. The person who puts it together tries to pick songs that are part of an overall theme, blending the work of many artists into one continuous strand of music. Or hitting “shuffle” on an iPod can have the same effect, only is possible to have very random songs juxtaposed next to each other. I think a Wiggles song followed up by Led Zeppelin is about the weirdest one I’ve experienced. May it never get any stranger than that.

Or a song can be played on the radio, where the disk jockey or the program director decides what songs will be played, and people can listen along to hear what they decide (with a few commercials thrown in, of course). And this can be interesting, when you’re out driving around and don’t have the inclination to select a CD of your own, or the CD player doesn’t work (as in my case).

The first song in the combination I heard yesterday was ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago.” The song has lots of nasty blues guitar, which I can always appreciate, and the fact that they sing about my hometown makes it all the more special. “Jesus Just left Tampa” or “Jesus just left Omaha” wouldn’t sound nearly as good, would it? This song is up there with the Doors’ “Peace Frog” (“Blood in the streets in town of Chicago, blood on the rise it’s following me”) and Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” (“Going to Chicago”) as my favorite Chicago song references. There are others, but maybe that’s a post for another day.

At the end of the ZZ Top jam, the song “Blue Collar Man” came on. “Long nights, impossible odds, keeping my eye on the keyhole…” Of all Styx’ songs, this might be the one I like the best. The guitar solo is just explosive, and just as when I was 17, a guitar solo grabs my attention like nothing else can.

So where’s the Chicago connection to this song? It’s actually the home of Styx, which goes all the way back to 1961 on the South side of Chicago. They’re all from Chicago, except for Tommy Shaw, the guitarist who plays the solo on that song. But the Chicago link to Tommy Shaw is also there, because Styx saw him play at a club gig in Chicago in the 1970s, and remembered him when they needed a replacement for their original guitarist. So he’s still Chicago, in my book, even if he doesn’t originally come from here. Neither did I, come to think of it.

As I was driving through the city I call home, on a beautiful fall day, my Chicago radio station gave me a song by some Texas dudes about my city, followed up by a great rock song by guys who hail from my city. Can’t do much better than that.

Countdown to #Cubs #DoubleTriple now at 44 losses

The Cubs imploded in the 9th inning tonight and so, as promised, here is a recap of the 1967 New York Mets. I will follow the same basic format for each entry, followed by a short narrative.

Expansion team: No

Overall record: 61-101

# of win streaks of 3 games or more: Four

Manager(s): Wes Westrum, Salty Parker

Hall of Famers on roster: Tom Seaver

100 loss seasons since: 1993

Pennant wins since: 1969 (World Series winner); 1973; 1986 (World Series winner); 2000

I wasn’t yet born in 1967, but I was conceived in that year. I like to think the Doors’ Light My Fire was playing in the background at the time, but I don’t really want to know for sure. The 1967 Mets didn’t light anybody’s fire, either. This was the fifth time in the team’s six-year history that it reached 100 losses. But, remarkably, the team managed to win the World Series just two years later. As their nickname will attest, that truly was an Amazin’ feat.

A couple of things about this team intrigued me. First, they had a coach who went by the name of Sheriff Robinson. Talk about a cool nickname. Baseball has lots of them over the years, but “Sheriff” will get anybody’s attention. The second is that the team’s first manager, Wes Westrum, resigned with 11 games left in the season. His replacement, Salty Parker (there’s another good nickname) took over a team that was 37 games under .500 and in tenth place. Divisional play came along in two years’ time, making it impossible for any team to finish in tenth place ever again. But really, did the players have any motivation to play for old Salty? Not really.

The turnaround for this team came quickly, and it gives me hope that it can be replicated with the Cubs. It had better be, because we’re all running out of years to see the Cubs finally break on through to the other side.