What a way to celebrate my 17th birthday with two tickets to see THE DOORS on January 24, 1969 at Madison Square Garden. New brown corduroy slacks, brown boots, a new overcoat, with a few extra bucks in my pocket from my folks as a birthday gift and away I go. A new pack of Marlboro Reds, train fare, money for the food after the show at the diner, I was psyched to go to another live show. But on the train ride in, the “problem” soon reared its ugly head as I had a girlfriend who was more excited about seeing Jim Morrison and chatting about Jim Morrison with her friends who also would be attending the show, both on the ride in and then again on the way home, Jim, Jim, Jim. Geez, selfish me, taking her to celebrate my birthday, which she basically forgot.
In THE GARDEN the stage was set in the middle of the arena and as the lights dimmed, The Staple Singers appeared first. Beautiful mood and music is the best way to describe what The Staples did. Even with a poor sound system their set was fascinatingly simple, elegant and spiritual. I was awestruck. After a rather extensive intermission, THE DOORS with a bass player (Harvey Brooks) appeared on stage, and adding a small horn section for a few tunes this being their “Soft Parade” days. According to The Doors faithful this show, one of the band’s first attempts at an arena rock show, was one of their finest. That night included songs from The Soft Parade, as well as Tell All The People, Love Me Two Times, Spanish Caravan,Back Door Man, Light My Fire, Five To One and When The Music’s Over
The Doors were, to my limited live experienced ears, musically okay, but not what I had anticipated. I expected a great rock band. Jim Morrison was an idiot, or was it just me? Nah, he was an idiot, hindering an otherwise good band with his “poetry” and rants. One interlude by Mr. Morrrison was something about him sitting on a fence, “and boy, do my balls hurt”. Musically my night was made by really digging The Staple Singers and developing a true appreciation for what they did. They were one cool group with a smooth, unique sound. Needless to say the Staples did not fit into the conversation on the return trip home. And neither did my birthday which seemed to have been overlooked. So as the song goes, TURN OUT THE LIGHTS…
January 30, 1969- The Village Voice- Riffs-“Jiiimmieeeee!”
“Jim Morrison carefully wrapped his black leather jacket into the shape suitable for air travel, then heaved it far into this $6.50 seats. It was early on in the proceedings Friday night at Madison Square Garden and if there was any question earlier whether the Doors concert was going to be anything but predictable, it was answered then.”
“…. The instrumentalists in the group play their axes, Morrison plays the audience.
“… well, the teenies got their show and the Doors and their promoters got lots of money, and money is really all that these monster events, indoors and out, are all about. The music? Who knows? The sound system in The Garden is abominable, but it mattered a lot more during The Staple Singers very professional set then when The Doors came on. The Doors originally sounded like one of the freshest, most promising things happening. Now they have released the same album under three different titles and encourage an audience that would be satisfied if they played bubblegum music as long as up front there was their Jiiimmmmiiiieeee.”