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Early Rock

Updated on August 11, 2015

The End by the Doors

When Francis Ford Coppola decided to use the Doors' song "The End" in his masterwork "Apocalypse Now," it revitalized an interest in the band. Morrison died in 1971 so by the time the film was released (1979), approximately eight years had passed. Thus, much of the audience was totally unfamiliar with Morrison's often dark lyrics or anything connected with The Doors. Coppola created an inadvertent advertisement for a pretty much forgotten rock ensemble. Since "Apocalypse Now" focused on the Viet Nam war, the music choice was appropriate. The war continued into 1975. Since his film was then a "modern day" interpretation of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," written way back in 1899, Coppola wanted to bring as much darkness to the film as possible.

Using "The End" by The Doors was ingenious because a lot of people -- even of the generation in which the song was created -- had not exposed themselves to the gloom of a band originating from the most worthless place on Earth, Los Angeles, California. Everyone loved the Beach Boys, and for a time there was this rivalry -- were you a Beach Boys fan or a Beatles fan? You couldn't be both. So, if you toss aside the Beach Boys, (with few exceptions) California wasn't on the map for producing significant bands.

Then finally came The Doors. I think their first LP was released sometime in 1967. My sister had one of the first stereophonic LP players and borrowed a copy of The Doors recording from a friend. I listened to it and was immediately enthralled yet challenged. Some of the music itself seemed very irregular, kind of dissonant but at the same time alluring and captivating. The lead vocalist, Morrison and his lyrics were beyond my grasp -- and this too was both upsetting but alluring. I wanted to understand what I was hearing. It would take me years to reach a point of understanding and full appreciation.

John Lennon
John Lennon

The 60's-70's were wild times. You could smell blood in the air -- what did it mean -- some kind of interior revolution between generations? The Kent State shootings occurred in 1970. Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down in 1968. A few months later Robert Kennedy was killed. The Watts riots occurred in 1965. The Rodney King riots occurred in 1992.

A sense of mayhem, insanity and disaster resided in Los Angeles for decades. This wasn't a period of malaise. Dead rock idols, dead presidents and their brothers, dead preachers, dead students, an unsupportable war, riots in Chicago, Los Angeles ... yeah, Jim, at the time it looked like the whole shit-house was definitely going to collapse into flames.

Robert Kennedy
Robert Kennedy

Ray Manzarek died in 2013. He was always overshadowed by Morrison but was really the founding father of The Doors. A certain door became permanently shut forever. He was 74 at the time of his death -- not bad for someone in the field of rock and roll. Yet his demise brought home the feeling that my own time on planet Earth was coming to a closure. I guess I might be ten or a bit more years younger than Ray, and when you get into your sixties, ten years doesn't seem like a hell of a long time. My father died at 42, my mother at 65, so I'm sort of just counting the days.

Ray Manzarek
Ray Manzarek

Once you hit 60, you really begin to reflect. You reflect on the events of your time, the things that influenced you, the things that held your interest. Then you begin to realize that everything is disappearing. You can't relate to new "artists." They seem shallow and mere products of an industry hell-bent on making a profit no matter what. It's all rather sad in in its way but probably no more so than the "Great Generation" having to adjust from Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley. The change from crooner-type music to rock must have seemed abhorrent and decadent. The Baby Boomers are probably more tolerant, but don't see much merit in new "talent." We continue to listen to the Stones, the Who, even The Doors. Thus the music industry has to weather-out a huge drop-out in sales. Who is going to bring them revenue that Elvis provided -- Taylor Swift? I don't think so.

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