Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Doors, "The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)" (1971)

(listen)

I'm not sure I would call the very last album by the Doors, L.A. Woman, their best—for one thing, I'm nearly as tired of "Riders on the Storm" as I am of its peers "Stairway to Heaven" and "Maggie May." But I rank it pretty high. I liked this blues direction they were falling all over. It is also home to this strange and wonderful song, which raves and thunders, looking directly into the future (if not the sun) at psychobilly, the Burning Man festival, and other human impulses. A methodical pounding rhythm section provides the foundation for Jim Morrison's heavily reverbed vocal, as he sing-tells tales of goings-on in the wilderness at night. Or the evolution of the blues. Or something. The mood is stark and dramatic and effective. The song has hold of a mighty current. Catharsis, purgation, revelry, ecstasy—all these things quiver behind and within it, underscored by the vivid lyrical scenes, the back beats cool and slow with plenty of precision, the Negroes in the forest brightly feathered, the friends we have gathered together on a thin raft. Yes, it veers dangerously close to sing-songy nursery rhyme children's music at points (it's not much of a melody for sure, and "the loss of God" is pure cheese as phrased), but it's fantastical and alive. Music for visions. Note: Texas radio and big beats are touched on here but there is nothing specifically about any white Anglo-Saxon Protestants that I can detect, except by implication insofar as they populate regions under discussion (Texas and Virginia). Inspirational line: "Out here on the perimeter there are no stars / Out here we is stoned—immaculate."

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