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Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors By Ray Manzarek.

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Why did I read this book? A better question would be why did I read this book almost 20 years after my ridiculous Doors phase? Who knows? I guess I dig autobiographies and I hadn’t read one in a while. Also the author, Ray Manzarek, died earlier this year, and I really liked him. He was such a massive hippy, it was impossible not to like him. Who hates a hippy? Like a real hippy, someone who was actually there when everyone was getting high, exchanging STDs and saying ‘groovy’ every 30 seconds? I think those cats were adorable, and Ray was the cuddliest of them all (with the exception of Wavy Gravy). I could happily listen to Ray waffle on about hippy shit for days, and, lucky for me, that’s exactly what he does in this book.

During my remarkably stupid and supernaturally embarrassing Doors phase in the early 90s, I read every book about Jim Morrison and The Doors I could get my hands on: No One Here Gets Out Alive, Dark Star, Rider on the Storm, etc. But I wish Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors had been on the shelves at the time (it was published ten years after I flushed my beads) because Ray and Jim were best friends, and this is about as close to the truth as you’re ever going to get.

Here’s what I liked about Light My Fire: 1) Oliver Stone gets his ass kicked thoroughly and repeatedly throughout the book, which is really enjoyable if you despise that hack as much as I do. 2) It confirms my suspicion that drummer John Densmore is a douche-bag. Jim tried to kick him out on the grounds that he hated his guts: ‘He has to go…I want to strangle him.’ After reading Densmore’s Doors biography, Rider on the Storm, I hated his guts too. What a sniveling, bitter, whiney little bitch. He actually insisted his drum riser be like 6-feet high so everyone could get a good look at him and his overbite. Wanker. 3) Ray was soooo stoked about being in the band, and that’s fun to read. He’s The Doors’ biggest fan and his enthusiasm is infectious. 4) The Jim Morrison Ray knew was actually really kind and funny and not a dick at all. 5) This book makes you feel okay about smoking pot and drinking beer–two of my favorite pastimes.

Here’s what I didn’t like so much: 1) Ray sure as hell aint no Charles Dickens. He writes pretty much how he talks, and he really talks when he talks, if you know what I mean. 2) Sometimes he goes too far with his descriptions, especially the ones that involve embraces with his wife. He actually says thing like, ‘my tongue flickered in her mouth.’ Eww, Ray. 3) He says ‘Dionysus’ or ‘Dionysian’ on every second page at least. I’m not even kidding; he throws that ecstatic Greek shit around like he’s having a sale. 4) He kinda blames a lot of people for Jim’s alcohol abuse and eventual death, but he doesn’t seem take much responsibility for it himself. Just sayin’. 5) The cover sucked.

Overall this is an easy, fun read, and if you’re interested in finding out what Jim Morrison was really like, you should totally read it. And if you like Ray, you should read it. And if you like listening to your granddad tell stories about doing acid and banging groupies, you should read it.

 

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