As much as our culture overemphasizes the value of being and looking young, I would not want to be a minute younger than I am. Because if I’d been born in the eighties or nineties I wouldn’t have been alive to experience firsthand an era of rock music when bands like The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Queen and the Alice Cooper band were together and releasing new music that didn’t sound like it came from a can. How many 20 year-olds can say that they were able to see Queen in concert five times before Freddie Mercury even came out of the closet, or paid just $12 to see The Who back when Keith Moon was still alive? I feel sorry for anyone who ever scalped tickets to attend a Blink 182 concert or uttered the phrase “Limp Bizkit is my favorite band!” How unbelievably sad.
I remember when Rock Stars were Gods that Walked the Earth as Men instead of generic, indie-rock doofusses dressed in identical t-shirts and ripped jeans. Those days are gone for good, of course, and I cherish my memories of that time, but it’s nice also to be reminded of musicians that earned their legendary status when somebody makes a good documentary about a seventies band. Right now, you can rent or own a DVD of the fantastic documentary, When You’re Strange, a Film About the Doors directed by Tom Dicillo and featuring narration by Johnny Depp. The Doors are a band that’s easy to take for granted, because all of their songs are amazing and Jim Morrison remains enigmatic as an artist immortalized by a premature death. I don’t claim to be the hugest Doors’ fan on the planet, but I do realize when I hear “The Crystal Ship” or “Riders On The Storm” that their music is fucking genius.
I thought I knew a lot about the story of The Doors and their ill-fated lead singer, but really, even if you are a die-hard fan you are going to learn something from watching When You’re Strange. Dicillo approaches the story in such a refreshingly linear fashion, using tons of never-before-seen, archival footage of The Doors live, in the studio, back stage and also including high-quality “lost” footage of Morrison’s own film, HWY. Depp’s narration is matter of fact and unpretentious, and the music just speaks for itself: so many fantastic songs by a band that – with inclusion of Ray Manzarek’s “lead organ” riffs – had a truly unique and inimitable sound. There is no denying that Jim Morrison’s death at the age of 27 was a tragedy. But instead of thinking about how sad it is that Morrison died “before his time,” viewing When You’re Strange led me to conclude that we should just be happy and celebrate the fact that we had Jim for as long as we did, and that he left such a rich and enduring legacy. It’s so obvious that he was an artist who really gave all he could. Like Jimi, Janis, Kurt and Jean-Michel – all gifted artists who died at age 27 – I really don’t think he was built to last.
The Worley Gig Gives When You’re Strange Five out of Five Stars.