Sometimes, the answer to that question should be 'no'. I've been running down a bit lately, and I've been listening to the Doors again. I've enjoyed it, and it's been a little mind-stretching, but I'm going to take the CD's out of my car stereo and not listen to them for a long time, and certainly not at the end of the school year.

It's normal for teachers to feel drained at this time of year, when they are in the home stretch, and this has been an extra-demanding year due to the moves entailed by modernization out of an old classroom, into a trailer, and then into a new classroom. Science teachers have lots of stuff, both their own stuff and all the district materials, and it's just a lot harder for us to move than, say, a math or language arts instructor. I'm much tireder this year than past years.

Also, I'm a bit drained by various projects piling up and on top of all that, I picked up some respiratory thing (probably allergies) that has really made it difficult for me to talk. So I've been scrambling.

Also, I think I'm a bit down emotionally, as well. Many people I know are undergoing some struggles in their personal lives. One colleague lost her father suddenly. Another is going through one of those venomous divorces that, praise God, I know nothing about personally. Two others are on 'administrative leave' and are being investigated for supposed wrongdoing, but of course it's just a coincidence that they are union reps as well as teachers. And, of course, the death of another colleague, Doreena Koopman, still weighs on me.

Reviewing those sentences, I seem to have written the word 'bit' three times....so is it really a 'bit'? Probably not. I'm generally a pretty energetic and positive fellow, or at least I tend to put out quite a bit of energy into whatever I'm working on at the moment, and I just know I haven't been myself. I can feel myself coming out of it, but I've been down, and probably more than a bit down.

Now, I like pop music (ear candy) as much as the next guy, and my favorite songwriter is Elvis Costello, who has been known to write some pretty grim and gritty things. But the thing is, Costello is at heart a craftsman interested in writing compelling music, not in acting out the aspects of his life that are spiraling out of control....which brings me to Jim Morrison and the Doors. I have sort of come full-circle on the guy, and his music.

When I was in my early 20's, I chuckled whenever a Doors tune came on. Everything was so camp and over-the-top, and the band seemed clueless as to how patently ridiculous some of their 'lyrics' were: the 'lizard king' who 'wallowed in the mire' while a killer's brain was 'squirming like a toad.' I used to make up my own ridiculous couplets to 'Riders on the Storm' or 'Light My Fire' and crack myself and my brother up. So I pretty much tuned the Doors out as a musical act.

But...fast forward to the early 90's, when I found myself wandering some pretty dark places. I'll spare you the details. Suffice to say I made a lot of bad choices in terms of relationships, education and how I treated my body, and I hung with a lot of people who seemed incapable of ever making good choices in any of these areas. Some of these folk are now dead, some incapacitated, some incarcerated, many vanished from the scene, their fate unknown. From this perspective, Morrison's yowls and affected asides suddenly seemed less cartoonish, and more real. He seems to revel in corruption, and says some things that were no doubt to him cutting right down to the bone. Scary shit, and who wants to spend the rest of their life scared of other people's self-destruction? And, again, the merits of the Doors as a musical act aren't considered, being too surrounded by prejudice.

Now that I'm older and have some distance between both my 'lost and found' years, I can see that I was missing some interesting things. The poetic self-indulgence of many of their records grows out of a willingness to stretch out songs as performance art pieces, and in the spaces created there are many interesting bits of timbral magic. At their best, the Doors could evoke feelings of mystery, of musical spaces full of portents. At his best, Jim Morrison inspired the rest of the band to follow him into places other artists would not go. Sometimes the places were clownish and easy fodder for parody, as I found in my early college years. Sometimes the places were dark and scary, as I found out later.

But the great truth about Morrison's muse is that what animated him, what mattered to him, was clownish in conception and horrific in execution. He was simply a horrible child who did horrible things to himself and others who happened to be able to make great performance theatre out of the whole thing. There are few records that I admire more than 'L.A. Woman', but I don't doubt for a moment that I would have found meeting the man who sang it unpleasant. So, the Doors CD goes away for awhile. All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. Christians often get a lot of grief for being censorious where the things of the world are concerned, but as Grace Slick once said, you need to 'feed your head'.....and my head just can't 'stomach' some things right now. Heh!

1 comment:

Sloan said...

Well-put, Scott, and a wise choice. I've struggled with depression for the past 8-9 years. I'm doing really well, but one of the unfortunate outcomes of this experience is that it has rendered me almost incapable of listening to my beloved Pink Floyd albums for anything more than a few songs. I hadn't realized just how melancholy much of their music really is.

Know this, my friend: things will get better. You'll be alright. I'll say a prayer for you. :-)