One writer’s retold concert memory – in tribute to Ray Manzarek, the legendary and revolutionary keyboardist for The Doors, who we lost last week.
‘So, no one wants to come along with me? It’s ok, no biggie: you’ll regret it when another one of them is gone’. I don’t know just how to feel about what I said that Saturday night almost six years ago, just before departing for The Doors concert and not succeeding at having some kind of company for the show. The band was 42 years old and I was barely 18 back then.
The city I live in, even until today, is still not used to any kind of big concerts, unless people in their 40’s singing 80’s Spanish pop hits for a wrinkled fatted up audience using tight jeans in order to remember the good old days counts. So, having rock icons playing around the corner and not noticing anyone beyond me in my family getting excited about it honestly pissed me off. So alone I went, but to join company I enjoyed.
The place was packed with people well into their 50’s, some of them even brought their entire family, others brought their grandsons wearing Jim Morrison shirts and a couple of cool looking grannies seemed to drag along uncomfortable looking granddaughters to take care of them. Large groups of gray haired rockers dropped by as well, wearing black leathers jackets of nostalgia with Rolling Stones, Cream, Free, Black Sabbath and The Doors patches all over the place, wearing a tribute of a life with more inches of colored hair in their heads and a nice record to play for every mundane situation of their youth. All of them there, almost half a century later, brought together by the sounds of half of The Doors and 1960’s longings.
The Door’s “Light My Fire” (really listen to the fantastic – and complex – intro Ray played on this song, and the stellar playing throughout – it makes the song. As if that’s not obvious enough.)
Then, just as the clock hit the 9 o’clock mark, a voice shouted Ladies and Gentlemen, From Los Angeles, California… The Doors! and, as hundreds of granny panties dropped at floor level, two living legends from the flower power era came onstage: guitarist Robby Krieger and keyboard punisher Ray Manzarek, wrapped in roar and clapping, along with Fuel’s former singer Brett Scallions and, as the lights went off, Love Me Two Times turned the place on.
As the auditorium is mostly used for sports events and theater plays, numbered seats were used, but Scallions wasn’t happy about it. As the first song finished, a roared Come here! was enough to turn the mayhem on: all floor seat emptied in a matter of seconds and the front row was packed by teenagers and senior alike, some of them putting Morrison posters and memorabilia up high, others placing their children on the best seats in the house: their shoulders, a few feet away from ongoing rolling stones such as Manzarek and Krieger, unable to stop and remain in the pedestal. They were there in our little city, keeping the lit fire alive once turned up decades ago, giving a master class at each show of how rock n’ roll used to breath.
To witness Krieger open hand guitar licks, Scallions impersonation of a long gone reptilized monarch and Manzarek playing with his feet at the age you are supposed to become a man and watching those full grown family men enjoy music like they were kids was really shocking, especially now that one of those kids isn’t with us anymore. Remembering that gray spiked hairdo, playful eyes behind a pair of glasses and scientific-like leaned being a part of a man named Ray making people happy through a set of black and white keys makes me feel older that I am now. Now, what an awkward and selfish word to use; a word that showcases just how a full you were then, when the now of the moment wasn’t important enough for one self.
It all seems clear until now, now that a week has passed since the great Manzarek left the world and I’m in my mid 20’s and I’m here, missing and writing about an old man who never knew who I was and feeling sad for a series of notes that will never be played again like they were played through almost half a century. To feel overwhelmed by the loss of a stranger and sharing that same feeling with millions of other strangers and fans all over the world is one of the things that makes music, music history and arts such a wonderful quality of humanity: it connects different lives through a common sounding feeling.
To feel and witness love for a band two times in two too far apart decades must have felt wonderful in the hearts of the once flower children in the audience. To be able to share it with their life time friends, their children, their grandchildren, their husbands and wives. That’s the kind of feeling I’d love to feel someday, maybe when I take my kids to a The White Stripes reunion tour or grab my then wrinkled friends from their families’ hands and take them to a The Hives show. Or just maybe a nice evening with my future wife at a Sigur Rós concert.
To share something that became a part of you and stuck with you through the elder side of life and be able to do so with your loved ones: that’s when you really love two times. Music, Manzarek and Morrison made it possible. Love two times: one for tomorrow, other just for today. And don’t worry: none of these guys and sounds will ever be going away.
For music will always give birth to insane children who’ll always light a fire, and there’s no end…
Raymond Daniel Manczarek, Jr.
Jorge A. López Mendicuti | Senior Writer & Photographer