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Light My Fire: My Life with the Doors

por Ray Manzarek

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
2222119,896 (3.42)2
"The best book yet about The Doors." --Booklist The inside story of the Doors, by cofounder and keyboard player Ray Manzarek. Includes 16 pages of photos. "A refreshingly candid read...a Doors bio worth opening." --Entertainment Weekly No other band has ever sounded quite like the Doors, and no other frontman has ever transfixed an audience quite the way Jim Morrison did. Ray Manzarek, the band's co-founder and keyboard player, was there from the very start--and until the sad dissolution--of the Doors. In this heartfelt and colorfully detailed memoir, complete with 16 pages of photographs, he brings us an insider's view of the brief, brilliant history...from the beginning to the end. "An engaging read." --Washington Post Book World… (mais)
Adicionado recentemente porPuga, bardicpress, Morrigan71, donwon, JMK2020, jciric, RMurdock1968, Sundial, booksatasteal
Bibliotecas LegadasJuice Leskinen
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When I say that I really liked this book, I actually mean to say that I loved parts of it and other parts were just kinda 'ok'. And the funny thing is, the parts I loved were unexpected, while the 'just kinda ok' parts were what i picked the book up for in the first place. Ray Manzarek writes about music with rare passion and clarity. He writes about The Doors like I write about trios of redheads at some rave at Pigeon Point...all soft and sad and sappy. ( )
1 vote laurustina | Jan 14, 2015 |
Insider's account of life with the Doors, especially Jim Morrison, as told by the band's keyboardist Ray Manzarek. A rich and lucid account, interspersed with Doors lyrics. Manzarek makes an effort to put the band in context with an abundance of literary and musical references of those who inspired and influenced them. A cut above the usual rock star reminiscence, perhaps because of the unusually high intelligence of the narrator, something he can't help pointing out by mentioning, in passing of course, his unusually high IQ. Manzarek paints a fascinating portrait of Morrison, but his occasional annoyance with drummer John Densmore and his deep dislike of the Oliver Stone film are interesting sidelights. His awe of the doomed and charismatic lead singer remains, despite Morrison's embarrassing and verging on the pathetic displays of self indulgence during the last couple of years of his short life. ( )
  brianfstevenson | Oct 25, 2008 |
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I recently picked this book up in the library, a book on The Doors I hadn’t seen before. I’d somehow missed it when it came out. I figured that it had to have some interesting stuff, since Manzarek was there through it all with Morrison, he was the co-creator of The Doors, and it could be strongly argued that he was the real guiding force in The Doors, shaping and forming them into what they were, utilizing Morrison’s mercurial talents and giving him direction. Morrison, of course, was the force of nature that propelled The Doors forward, and the other way of seeing it is the Manzarek was the one musician who was able to understand Morrison as a poet/songwriter/singer and was the only guy who could have ever ridden the snake.

In any case, the book came out in 1998, and it didn’t disappoint me, it makes for a really interesting read. It needs to be said that Manzarek, though quite a talented writer, is undisciplined, or at the very least could have used a good editor. He writes like a MFA graduate student run amuk – gushing, overusing his favorite arcane words, such as maenads (female followers of Dionysis) frequently throwing in references to mythological figures in describing the moments when the band was inspired. The following passage is an example of this, recalling the session where the Doors (absent of Morrison) record the music to “When the Music’s Over.”

The maenads were with us. The muse Euterpe was with us. Her sisters Calliope and Terpsichore and Polyhymnia had joined us. And they were all whirling and dancing in a delirium of ecstasy, of exhilaration, of joy.

This is the kind of overwrought prose that pops up throughout the book, but at times it leads to good things. The next part of the above section, for instance.

We were in the divine moment and all pretense was abandoned. We were our real, naked selves and we were playing our instruments with our souls. Everything was on the line and because it was… everything was alive. That’s the reward you get when you make the leap into the void.

Passages like this, when he's gotten to the meat of the matter, make the book by turns a compelling read. They take you into the real inner world of The Doors, what it was like to be onstage as a band with Morrison when those incredible, shamanic performances happened. To his credit, Manzarek is a fiercely intelligent man, well read and vastly knowledgeable in the all things art and culture. He understands writing and his prose, though uneven, isn’t afraid to take off into Kerouacian flights of bop prosody. At times, it works. Here's he's describing Morrison walking in the water on the edge of the beach.

He's like an Indian deity, like Krishna - the Blue God - creating a field of diamonds from his footsteps, like Sai Baba, a popular guru of the time, materializing ashes from his fingers, but this human figure is producing glittering, ephemeral, now-you-see-them, now-you-don't jewels.

Manzarek takes us through the whole Doors story, beginning back at film school with Morrison, to their famous meeting on the beach, months after Jim said he was going to move to New York, to finding Keiger and Densmore, through the Doors' early struggles, their time as the house band at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go, their rapid rise when “Light My Fire” became the number one single in the US. Soon after that happened, Manzarek recounts how the band played a gig at Beverly Hills High School with The Coasters. This kind of strange historical detail shows just how much the music business has changed between then and now.

The book is a great insider read – were see Morrison in New York at the Warhol Factory, where a priceless encounter between Morrison and Warhol occurs (as recounted to Manzarek by Morrison). We see the recording of “Light My Fire,” where in the middle of a good take of the song, the band playing live in the studio, no overdubs, Morrison sees a television set that’s on with no sound (the sound engineer wanted to keep an eye on the baseball game) and Jim grabs the TV then throws it at the control booth window. The Doors at this point are a brand new band with their first recording contract, first time in the studio, not superstars. The TV smashes, the window doesn’t. The music stops, and Morrison quietly but forcefully says, "No TV's in the studio." Paul Rothschild, their producer, somehow just lets it go and the next day they come back to record the version of “Light My Fire” that goes to the top of the charts.

Good stuff.

Manzarek clearly didn’t like Oliver Stone’s movie about The Doors, ditto for Stone himself, and he goes off on the occasional rant, chastising Stone for aspects of his character and citing how he got facts about The Doors very wrong, and put them in the movie just for the sake of telling the story the way he wanted to tell it. These struck me as funny little asides, though some readers might find them jarring and annoying. Afterward, in each case Manzarek displays humor, asking forgiveness of the reader for his need to vent.

The curious thing about this book, and I don’t think this is any fault of Manzarek’s, is that after reading it, despite all the close up details written by the man who was one of the closest people to Jim Morrison in his life, Morrison himself remains stubbornly elusive, still mysterious, his inner self hidden. We see little glimpses, but he remains almost alien-like, as if he was just visiting here for while, playing around on this earth with all the funny people, his real soul and identity carefully guarded, kept private, always tightly locked away.
adicionada por susieimage | editarexaminer.com, William Routhier (Jan 5, 2013)
 
Legendary Doors keyboardist Manzarek cannot seem to figure out whether his close friend and bandmate Jim Morrison's wild antics were the result of a poetic desire to push the envelope as far as the singer could, or if the famous 1960s rebel (who died in Paris at the age of 27) was just a gifted drunk. This ambivalence gives rise to an interesting, open-minded chronicle of one man's (Morrison's) alcoholism and its impact on his loved ones. Manzarek surely loved Morrison--they were friends and collaborators before either man had met the other two musicians who would complete the Doors's lineup, drummer John Densmore (whom Manzarek claimed Morrison never liked) and guitarist Robby Krieger, who penned ""Light My Fire,"" ""Touch Me"" and ""Love Me Two Times"" with little or no help from famed lyricist Morrison. Manzarek takes every opportunity to philosophize about the ills of capitalist America, and he incessantly, passionately alludes to Greek mythology, Hinduism and Christianity when relating tales of his rock band's rise and fall. It's all love, peace, happiness and Morrison, except for the caustic passages regarding Oliver Stone and his big-budget biopic, The Doors, which Manzarek despises. ""Grow up and see it like it really is, you fascist,"" the keyboardist writes at one point, which makes one wonder why Manzarek, an award-winning filmmaker and graduate of the UCLA film school, didn't make the movie himself. 16 pages of photos, not seen by PW. (July)
adicionada por susieimage | editarPublishers Weekly (Jun 1, 1998)
 
Not the most original of titles is it? "Light My Fire, My life with the Doors". You'd have thought Ray Manzarek would have come up with something rather better than that for his life story, wouldn't you? Well, don't let it put you off because because Ray's a nice guy - I think you'd enjoy reading his book. And anyway, he was never the wordsmith was he? He was the music man of the Doors, he was the keyboards man; the one who gave their music its minor key moodiness and its Fender keyboard bass.

Did you like the Doors? Do you like the Doors? Me, I loved them. I still love them. About twenty years ago every one I knew was into the Doors; all the girls loved Jim Morrisson, myself included. We liked his pre-beard, leather-trousered, silver-buckled belt stage best, we couldn't believe that a deep, rich, full-of-sex voice like that could come out of such a pretty man. Actually, looking back, I think all the boys loved Jim too (although they pretended it was his poetry that they liked). At any rate, much as they'd have protested, they all wanted to be like him. Of course the Doors weren't just Jim Morrison; they were Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby Krieger too. Jim's dead now and we'll never be able to read his story but John's written his and so has Ray. I've read both and, despite its flaws, I prefer the Manzarek story of the Doors years. So that's the one I'm going to tell you about. If you're at all interested you should read both too and I imagine that then you'd be closer to the 'real' truth, but it's Manzarek's enthusiastic, touching, somehow naïve, but always musically interesting account I'd prefer to read.

The book begins at the end of the story, with the death of Jim Morrison in Paris, shortly after the recording of the album LA Woman. It tells of that last, joyous, music-making time and the sad confusion of the days so shortly afterward, the days when the three remaining Doors waited for their manager to tell them what was really happening in Paris. And really, that first chapter sets the scene for the whole book - for although it tells Ray's story it's really about music and it's really about Jim. It ends like this:

"We'll never make art again. The four of us will never enter that zone... making Doors music... ever again. It was over and we would all be something slightly less. We would always have a piece of us missing. For the rest of our lives."

Manzarek's childhood was a fairly happy one. He was one of three sons born into a liberal, hardworking second generation Polish immigrant family. His parents were avid collectors of old blues records and it was their encouragement which set him on a musical path. Some of the most interesting passages in the book come here as Manzarek tells of his lessons on the family piano and his progression through stride and boogie woogie to blues playing. And of course his left hand playing those stride and boogie woogie rhythms eventually became the Doors bassist. But Manzarek was filled with enthusiasm for what he was learning and he's still filled with enthusiasm now. Even better, at the time, so were his parents:

"And I sat at our country German upright and worked on my left hand, over and over, trying to get that beat, trying to make that snake crawl out of my fingers. And I did it. I got the hang of it. I could do it! And my parents, those blues record collectors, loved it. My mother smiled and my father tapped his foot as he relaxed in his chair. I once heard him say to my Mom, 'That boy's getting good, Helen.' And as John Lee Hooker said, 'I felt sogood, I boogied in the house.'"

Each part of Light My Fire about the music is just as enthusiastic as that and they're the best parts of it for me; they're fun to read but they're also incredibly interesting because Manzarek isn't afraid to talk technical. You get the full explanation of the styles, the keys, the chords, the arrangements and the productions without ever being talked down to. I discovered a lot about musical composition by reading Manzarek's book but he never let me forget that the technical ability is nothing without the verve, commitment and emotional involvement which turn the tonal pyrotechnics into art, or if that sounds too pretentious for you, at least into the sort of music people like me listen to not for weeks, but for years.

But of course the lion's share of the book is devoted to the Doors. Manzarek went on to do a film degree at UCLA and it was there in LA, on the course, that he met Jim Morrison and became his friend. They had plans to become film makers, not musicians, and it wasn't until a while after their degree was over that they decided to marry Morrison's poems to Manzarek's love of the blues and form a band. By that time America was in the grip of the first youth culture revolution and the two were huge admirers not only of the music but, like the good little arts graduates they were, of the Beat Poets and of the philosophies of Jung and Nietzsche. They loved the Beatniks. They fashionably explored Eastern mysticism and ideas, and of course they explored drugs; cannabis and LSD. And all of these things were both the background and the spur to the music they created. Just as it's a fusion of so many musical styles it's also a fusion of these equally many intellectual and spiritual ideas and a product too of psychedelic experience.

To be honest Ray Manzarek is a disgraceful name dropper. He wants you to know about all the iconic figures he's come into contact with in his life. He wants you to know he's well-read. He wants you to know he's known all the greats: poets, muscians and movers and shakers. He's also kept hold of many of those sixties eastern ideas and flower power attitudes down the years so reading his book you'll also be bombarded with constant references to chakras and energies and yings and yangs and chis and all that stuff. Great if you're into it all yourself, unfortunately I'm not but I really, honestly didn't mind because Ray's such a nice guy and his view of what's right and wrong and how we should live and behave towards each other isn't very far from mine, chakras or no chakras.

And then you get the big story, the story of the Doors, the story of finding Densmore and Krieger, of making the music, of pounding the streets looking for a recording deal, of playing the early gigs, and of having a really good time. And of course, the story of making it big, of Light My Fire becoming number one in the American charts. Of Jim singing 'higher' and not 'better' on the Ed Sullivan Show and scandalising the nation, of Jim performing on stage like a Native American Shaman, of gigs bigger and better and more psychedelic. All the anecdotes are here and they're all sadly set against the backdrop of the huge gulf apparent between the peacenik outlook of Manzarek and his wife and Morrison's decline into alcohol dependency and ridiculous levels of drug use. And that decline takes you equally sadly to the end of the circle, to where the book began, in the Paris hotel bathroom that day in 1971.

It's clear that one enormous motivation for Manzarek to write his book was to defend his friend. Even now, thirty years later he can't condemn Jim, or even the worst of his excesses. He's worked out an endearing but vaguely embarrassing theory of 'Jim' and 'Jimbo'. He sees the poet, the successor to the Beats, the LA film student as Jim, his friend and another person altogether from the hard-drinking, pill-popping, aggressive Jimbo. He thinks Morrison may have had some kind of psychological disorder, some sort of split personality, caused by his particular susceptibility to alcohol or perhaps his strict, unloving upbringing. I don't know about that, and if you get around to reading Densmore's book too you'll see that he's rather a large tad less forgiving. Again though, it doesn't matter because Light My Fire simply shines out with its atmosphere of purely personal recollection. You don't mind Ray having rose tinted spectacles because you can see just how much he loved his friend. And I can't see what's wrong with that.

Poor old Ray. Despite the mystery and odd circumstances, like Richy Preacherwhatsit, Jim's dead you know. He's not been lifted by the little green men, he's not escaping it all and living a life of humble obscurity as a Buddhist monk, not Jim, not the Jim who was a Native American Shaman when he wanted to be and halted his gig before thousands of people to talk to a grasshopper. He's dead. He died in Paris, in a hotel bathroom, aged only twenty-seven, and Ray knows it; it's his great sadness. And that's why I'd rather read Ray's remembering than anything 'outside', or even Densmore's account although it's probably the more objective. Ray's is a subjective story, a happy remembering, it's his nostalgic memoir if you like. It's nice to read.

This isn't a great book, the writing is fairly poor, like I said, Ray Mazarek wasn't the wordman. But, y'know, it might be naïve, it might not be particularly well-written, it might nag you to death about chakras and name-drop like fury, but Light My Fire is a lovely book; interesting, open, touching, and even the naivety is engaging when you think about just how naughty everyone considered the Doors, and especially Jim, to be. Makes you realise we're all just people really. And let's face it, if anyone at all has got an interesting story to tell it has to be Ray Manzarek, hasn't it?
 
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"The best book yet about The Doors." --Booklist The inside story of the Doors, by cofounder and keyboard player Ray Manzarek. Includes 16 pages of photos. "A refreshingly candid read...a Doors bio worth opening." --Entertainment Weekly No other band has ever sounded quite like the Doors, and no other frontman has ever transfixed an audience quite the way Jim Morrison did. Ray Manzarek, the band's co-founder and keyboard player, was there from the very start--and until the sad dissolution--of the Doors. In this heartfelt and colorfully detailed memoir, complete with 16 pages of photographs, he brings us an insider's view of the brief, brilliant history...from the beginning to the end. "An engaging read." --Washington Post Book World

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