One of the solaces of getting older is that the passionate prejudices of your youth start to fade. As time passes you become less determined not to like certain things, and the appeal you previously refused to acknowledge is able to break through the clouds and make itself seen.
For instance: From the time I was a teenager, I was eager to tell anyone who would listen exactly why and how much I hated the Doors. Most of it had to do with Jim Morrison and the whole idea floating around that he was some kind of Great Poet. To me Jim Morrison was always the guy who wrote these lines:
If they say I never loved you
You know they are a liar
I mean, that has to be the most awkward, tin-eared couplet in the history of pop music. And then there was the whole Morrison mystique, the Lizard King business. Apparently he was considered some kind of sex symbol, but why should I care? And so what if he was arrested for waving his willie at a paying audience? Anyone with a penis could do that, but I’d really prefer that they not.
And while we’re at it, yes, I know that the Doors were named after The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley’s book about his mushroom experiments. That particular nugget of data is not quite as mind-blowing as you might think. Huxley, by the way, was a real writer, unlike….
Well, never mind. Old habits die hard. Anyway, my anti-Doors policy was severely tested during my senior year in college when my landlord and I discovered that my portable CD player and his towering studio monitors made a lethal combination. My tastes at the time ran to bands like Love and Rockets, That Petrol Emotion, and Camper Van Beethoven, but what he most wanted to hear at top volume was the first Doors album. I did not relish the thought but decided to politely keep my feelings to myself, and was somewhat alarmed to discover that while I still hated “Light My Fire,” songs like “Break on Through” and “The Crystal Ship” actually sounded pretty good blasting through the dining room floor into my basement abode.
Not long after that I saw Apocalypse Now for the first time and discovered that a) it was quite possibly the greatest movie ever made and b) it made prominent use of a Doors song, “The End.” I am so damn stubborn, though, that I still didn’t change my mind. Even when I found out that Hunter Thompson was a Doors fan, I refused to yield.
But as the years have passed, I’ve gradually softened my no-Doors-allowed doctrine. And when I saw last week that someone had posted a two-disc Best Of on the CD-swapping site I frequent, I was tempted. Fast forward to this morning, and there I am listening to “Riders on the Storm” on headphones. My younger self would have been appalled, but while I still think Morrison was kind of a clown, it doesn’t bother me much anymore. Once you forget all the blather and just think of the Doors as a rock band, they’re a pretty good one. Especially “Waiting for the Sun.”
The next major hurdle I need to get over is Led Zeppelin. As long as I can remember, there’s been the Zeppelin people on one side and me on the other side, and I’ve felt pretty secure about my position. That Robert Plant wail…I just can’t see why a person would choose to sing that way, except as a joke. And the lyrics: “I’m gonna give you every inch of my love”…is that supposed to clever somehow? It’s just the lyrical equivalent of Morrison swinging his johnson around. But then every once in a while I hear something like “When the Levee Breaks” and I say, hmm, maybe there is something. So that, um, levee may, er, break one day too, which will leave the Yes/ELP school of overblown prog-rock as the last segment of the R’n’R spectrum for which I have no use whatsoever. That’s one thing that’s not going to change…at least I hope not. You’ve got to have some standards in this life.