by Lawrence J. J. Leonard
Ever been in a situation where the person you are speaking with does not understand what is being said? We repeat ourselves sometimes to the point where we speak louder until that person finally says, “Oh. I get it.” But then they don’t? When a loved one tells us that they are out of love and the relationship is ended, do we / can we just shut it off?
One of the most controversial rock and roll bands ever to get radio air play was The Doors. Band members: keyboardist Ray Manzarek (1939-2013), guitarist Robby Krieger, drummer John Densmore, and vocalist Jim Morrison (1943-1971). Their formation began in July, 1965, when Jim and Ray were schoolmates at UCLA. Ray was a songwriter and laid the groundwork for many of the group’s tunes. After some earlier musicians left the ensemble they got a gig at a Los Angeles club, The London Fog, in 1966. A low attendance rate at that location meant the band could work out song kinks and in some cases, lengthen their works with leads and improved lyrics without the crowd requesting cover songs.
They eventually got hired to perform at The Whiskey A Go Go nightclub in West Hollywood. There Elektra Records producers signed them to a contract by mid-August and three days later The Doors self-titled album was in the works. Iconic songs on this first effort included: “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” “Soul Kitchen,” “Light My Fire” and “The End” and as planned, it was released in January, 1967.
There was also one song in particular, written by Jim, which detailed despair. It included a keyboard solo that echoed the sadness of the theme. Some insist that it was a poem about a love affair that Jim ended. Some interpret the lyrics as double entendre for drug use. Many others believe the lyrics discuss suicide. No matter how we feel about the song, it is separation from the familiar at any point that can cause heartache for all involved.
The song “Crystal Ship” was the third track on the album. It was released as a “B side” single for the “A side” hit song “Light My Fire” which hit #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box charts. The “Crystal Ship” track was a signature song for the band. It represented the band’s mysterious nature, their ability to express mental ache, the craziness of the booming drug culture of the 1960s, and the ever-present Vietnam War with its protests. The United States youth were going off to war, experimenting with sex and drugs, and bringing all kinds of health issues and death upon themselves.
If we contemplate the lyrics as sung, the music starts out quietly and with single request. It is repeated over and over. Eventually the music becomes louder than when it started. Apparently, the other person was not in agreement or could not understand what was being said. Was the relationship over? It can be difficult to let go of a feeling or a dream or a person who does not want to be with us. When we are the person breaking off the ties, we have to find closure. This can be done by our singing a song about it. We can always just talk to someone and express how we feel.
Lyrics written by Jim Morrison
Before you slip into unconsciousness
I’d like to have another kiss,
another flashing chance at bliss.
Another kiss. Another kiss.
The days are bright and filled with pain.
Enclose me in your gentle rain.
The time you ran was too insane.
We’ll meet again. We’ll meet again.
Oh, tell me where your freedom lies
The streets are fields that never die.
Deliver me from reasons why
you’d rather cry. I’d rather fly.
The crystal ship is being filled –
a thousand girls, a thousand thrills,
a million ways to spend your time.
When we get back, I’ll drop a line
Copyright © 1960-2017 Lawrence J. J. Leonard All rights reserved.