When it comes to music, Genesis is my favorite band. Others that are up there near the top include The Beatles, Rush, Led Zeppelin, and Foo Fighters. But there’s one band that I’ve loved since my silly teen years that I keep coming back to over and over. An immortal band that produced incredible music in a (way too) short period of time. A band whose frontman may just be known more for burning out quickly than his musical talent. That band would be The Doors.
Every studio album is a classic from start to finish. The Doors, Strange Days, Waiting for the Sun, The Soft Parade, Morrison Hotel, L.A. Woman. Even Absolutely Live is great.
Recently, I finally watched my DVD of When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors, written and directed by Tom DiCillo (Living in Oblivion) and narrated by Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd, etc etc etc). Bought the DVD the week it came out and, like all DVDs I buy, it sat on the shelf neglected until the mood struck me at the same time I had time to watch it. Actually, I made time, opening up a fresh bottle of wine at 11 pm and firing up the DVD player. And as my interest grew with each passing moment, history was made. (OK, maybe just in my mind.) Damn, what a fantastic movie.
I’ve read so much about The Doors through the years, from No One Here Gets Out Alive by Danny Sugerman to Riders on The Storm by John Densmore, to a Doors book that’s hiding somewhere among my 30 or so waiting to be read, and have always been entertained. The saga of Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore fascinates me. And this film was no exception.
Placing The Doors (who were only a band for 52 months) in their historical context by combining a band bio with short commentary on the turbulent 1960s, DiCillo uses only actual footage of the band to tell their story. Still photos, home movies, interview clips, live performances, concert footage. Sure, it’s been done before, but so what? It’s mesmerizing. Maybe the footage from the lost Jim Morrison movie “HWY” is a little bit of a miss, but hey, where else are you going to see that? The DVD also includes an interesting short interview with Morrison’s father and sister. I could go on (great soundtrack of course, good narration by Depp), but you should just see it for yourself if you haven’t already. Especially if you’re a Doors fan.
P.S. It’s been a great year for music documentaries. In addition to When You’re Strange, the terrific Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage was released, giving Rush a seemingly new relevancy. (Even though they’ve never gone away and are still making awesome music.) And there’s the long-awaited Lemmy, which premiered at the South by Southwest festival this year, and will hopefully be coming to DVD soon. Those three alone are a great year for any genre of film.