Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 285
Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012
“Light My Fire” may be The Doors most commercially popular song but there’s a song from Strange Days that may be more important than “Fire,” “Moonlight Drive” is the song that sparked the musical union that became The Doors. Ray Manzarek discussed the moment “Moonlight Drive” was formed when he said, “John and Robby and I get together and Jim get together for a rehearsal and the very first song we play is Moonlight Drive. Which is the first song Jim sang to me on the beach . So I showed Robby the cord changes. You know pretty simple, a blues song, and ‘Let’s swim to the Moon, Pretty straight ahead song. Robbie says, “Hey, hey, I’ve got an idea, man. He opens the inside of a guitar case, he opens that little ‘thing’ in there, whatever the hell guitar, where they keep their picks and extra strings and he pulls out this weapon.”
Actually it wasn’t a weapon as Ray first thought but a bottleneck that old bluesman used to create the slide guitar sound as Robbie Krieger explained, “The first slide guys I heard were the classic blues guys like Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Johnson… all the Johnsons. I didn’t want to play like those guys. I wanted to take it somewhere else, like on “Moonlight Drive.” There are elements of blues in my playing, but I wanted the slide to make a different kind of sound rather than try to play blue notes with it.”
So Robbie shows Ray and Jim how the bottleneck sounds like and Morrison is taken with the rhythms Krieger is making with his guitar as The Lizard King tells Manzarek, “Ray, I love that sound. I love that sound.’ I want that on every single record. Every song we play.” That’s how good Robbie sounds when he’s wailing on “Moonlight Drive.” You can witness this on the new The Doors at The Bowl ’68. The sounds that Krieger gets from his act is incendiary. “Moonlight Drive” in the studio is a classic but in concert is when Robbie comes alive, his guitar blends effortlessly with Morrison’s poetic images recalling those nights he spend on the rooftops in Venice, serenading the moon like he did Ray Manzarek on the beach, singing the words that sparked the formation of The Doors.
Ray explained how “Moonlight Drive” came alive in the studio when he said, “So I showed Robby the chord changes, showed John the beat. Robby’s got his Bottleneck on and we start to smoke a joint. The Holy sacrament is passed around. One. Two. One, Two, Three, Four. I’m playing and the he song is just like, moving along through time and space. All of the sudden everything becomes infinite or totally, locked into this moment.”
“Robby plays a solo after two versus and it’s amazing and we’re gone from the G up to the A and we’re doing a hard rock and then the end of the song comes along and Jim says, “Baby gonna drown tonight. Going down, down, down. Gonna drown tonight. Dowwwnnnnn.’ and the song just kind of fades out. “we all looked at each other and went, ‘…man. What have we just done. Oh, my. Are we allowed to do that on this planet?’ That was it. Moonlight Drive. At that point, everybody knew. We all just sort of nodded our heads and that was it. That was the birth of The Doors. Right there.”
“Moonlight Drive” is The Doors song that drummer John Densmore called, “revolutionary” and a “psychedelic love song.” “Moonlight” gets a remastered resurrection from this newly rereleased 1968 Hollywood Bowl show. If you think you know “Drive” from its original incarnation than Strange Days you’ve only heard half the glory. It’s time to take that ride with Densmore, Krieger, Manzarek and Morrison and this blistering live rendition, and you will rediscover why “Moonlight Drive” is the song that created The Doors. Witness the rebirth of The Doors at the Hollywood Bowl as you experience the eloquent trip that is “Moonlight Drive.”