Night Divides The Day Liner Notes

Dedicated to the Doors: Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, John Densmore and the late Jim Morrison (1943-1971). Also to their engineer Bruce Botnick, their late producer Paul Rothchild, and their manager Danny Sugerman, who all helped make it happen and keep the flame alive to this day. And to the memory of my late father, George Winston, Jr., who got me my first instrument, the organ, in 1967, and my best friend’s late father, Fred Dreifuss.

As the story of the Doors is best told by the members and their closest associates, I am keeping these notes focused on my own personal experiences with their music. If you would like to learn more about how it all happened, check out the historical bodies of work produced by the Doors members themselves—especially THE DOORS COLLECTION, a 3 hour DVD of videos and live performances, and the books, LIGHT MY FIRE: MY LIFE WITH THE DOORS by organist Ray Manzarek and RIDERS ON THE STORM by drummer John Densmore. (Additional recommended recordings, books and DVDs are listed later in the notes.)

My favorite music when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s was by the great instrumental artists of that time: Booker T & the MGs, Floyd Cramer, King Curtis, The Ventures, and many others. I also loved the great jazz organists: Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Gene Ludwig, Richard “Groove” Holmes, the late Jack McDuff, the late Larry Young (Khalid Yasim), Shirley Scott and others. My favorite instrument to listen to, although I did not play it yet, was the organ. I was always looking for records with organ on them, and I got the Doors first album in January 1967, before I had ever heard them—because they had an organist. The album had just been released, and the radio airplay had not yet reached Miami, where I was living during my senior year of high school. At that time, the Doors were only well known in Los Angeles, where they played regularly on the Sunset Strip, and some in New York City, where they had also played live.

When I put the record on that night and heard the first song, Break on Through (to the Other Side), to me it was the greatest piece of music I had ever heard. (I am still working on playing it as a solo piano piece – it will be on my next album of Doors’ songs, NO CLOCKS). It was a perfect song—the arrangement, dynamics, lyrics, the great jazz-influenced drumming by John Densmore, the beautiful guitar lines by Robby Krieger, the incredibly powerful and unique organ instrumental break by Ray Manzarek with his simultaneous hypnotic bass lines, and those vocals by Jim Morrison. It was deeper to me than anything I had ever heard. It was also the first time I had ever really paid attention to the lyrics of a song, and it was the second time I had been that affected by a whole album, musically and otherwise (the first time was pianist Vince Guaraldi’s A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS album that I had heard in December 1965). I had never heard anything like this. (If you hear the 1965 demo songs from the 4 CD release, THE DOORS BOX SET, you can see that Jim and the band made a Robert Johnson-like* transformation in a very short time.)

*Robert Johnson (1911-1938) was the great and legendary Mississippi Delta Blues guitarist/vocalist who was initially an average musician, until he dropped from sight and re-emerged as an incredibly powerful musical force, who continues to be a deep and profound influence and inspiration to this day. The legend is that he made a deal with “the devil,” but of course what happened was he found himself musically, studied other great players, such as Charley Patton and Son House, practiced and practiced, and finally made his quantum leap through his own processes, finally “getting it”, as we all did in school in math,, “getting multiplication”, etc (see the 1990 reissue ROBERT JOHNSON – THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS; and the website; and also the great book that explains and dispels this myth, ROBERT JOHNSON-LOST AND FOUND, by Barry Lee Pearson and Bill McCulloch). When I asked Ray Manzarek how the Doors had made their transformation, he said it was from playing six nights a week at the London Fog, a club on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, in 1966. Mythologies aside, the leap remains mysterious—hard work opens the door, but the leapcomes on its own accord, in its own time.

The Doors usually featured a great instrumental break by Ray on organ (or piano/electric piano/ harpsichord) and /or Robby on guitar in most of their songs. Each member was a very unique musician. Robby Krieger usually played with his fingers rather than with a pick and had the unique amalgam of flamenco, Blues, jazz and his signature bottleneck style. Ray had classical, blues and jazz influences, as well as inspirations from film and literature. He also played the hypnotic bass lines on a Fender keyboard bass with his left hand, which created the grounding for the complex parts played simultaneously with his right hand on the Vox Continental organ, as well as by the other band members. Ray was a direct role model for me to strive to play the bass with my left hand and organ with the right in the bands I played in—and this was the precursor to my later becoming a solo pianist. John Densmore had extensively studied the subtleties and dynamics of jazz drumming, as well as the East Indian tabla, and his shadings and percussive statements were an integral part of the Doors’ unique sound. Jim Morrison had a huge array of influences and inspirations from the great writers and poets of all eras, film, theater, blues musicians and singers. He sang, crooned and roared from the depths of agony and ecstasy—with the band right there with him on every level. They were not just a singer with a back-up band. The four musicians weaved around each other as equals, and created a synergistic whole, more than the sum of the parts. They were the light in the darkness, the darkness in the light, and the shifting aspects of the yin and the yang. The Doors are historically one of the great teams, musically or otherwise.

The Doors immediately became my favorite band and were the major impetus for me to begin playing the organ in the great musical summer of 1967. I never did get to see them live, but I will never forget their great performances of People Are Strange and Light My Fire on the Ed Sullivan television show on December 17, 1967. (Listen to the way Jim twice sang the word “fire.” You can watch this, along with their other television appearances and other great footage on their DVD, THE DOORS COLLECTION.) Their six studio albums were very different from each other, and each one was conceptual. Together they represent a deep, cathartic, ecstatic and complete statement, from the first song on the first album, Break On Through (to the Other Side), to the last song on the sixth album, Riders on the Storm. The Doors continued to inspire me after I switched from organ to solo piano in 1971. They were the main inspiration for me to record conceptual albums, especially AUTUMN. I also love what each of them has done individually after the last album with all four members was released in 1971. (See for current and historical information.)

I’ve listened to the Doors for well over thirty years now, and originally had arranged some of the Doors’ songs as part of my repertoire for the solo piano dances that I play. From that, this album finally evolved. Six of these— i>The Crystal Ship, Light My Fire, Love Me Two Times, People Are Strange, Love Her Madly and Riders on the Storm—are included among the thirteen songs on this album.

I would say that I mainly think of the piano in terms of New Orleans pianist’s James Booker’s piano languages. The main temperament of my left hand is comes from James Booker, augmented by Professor Longhair and Henry Butler; and the main temperament of my right hand comes from Jim Morrison’s vocals, augmented by James Booker, Professor Longhair and Henry Butler.


1. Spanish Caravan (5:28)

In some of the introduction and middle instrumental part of this song, the Doors’ great and versatile guitarist Robby Krieger used the main theme from the song Asturias, by the Spanish pianist (and student of Franz Lizst) Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909). Albéniz wrote two versions for solo piano around 1885, one called Asturias (after the Northern Spanish province of the same name), and the other called Preludio. The song was probably first arranged for solo guitar by Albéniz's contemporary, the great guitarist and composer Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909), and is better known today as a classical guitar piece. I first heard Asturias in 1968, at a guitar concert by the French/American classical guitarist Alfred Eric Street, while in college at Stetson University in Deland, Florida. Before that, I had only heard the song within the Doors’ version of Spanish Caravan when the WAITING FOR THE SUN album came out in the summer of 1968, and had not yet heard of Asturias, Isaac Albéniz or Francisco Tárrega. After the concert, I asked Alfred about the song and told him where I had first heard the main melody, never having heard the classical/flamenco version – and interestingly, he had never heard of the Doors. The Doors’ version bridges the gap of three traditions: Spanish classical, Spanish flamenco and American rock. This recording is finally a vehicle for my feelings that I’ve had for many years for the vast and beautiful music traditions of Spain.

Thanks to the great guitarist Michael Lorimer for his contribution to the notes for this song.

From the Doors’ third album, WAITING FOR THE SUN.

2. The Crystal Ship (5:11)

The Crystal Ship is one of the Doors’ most haunting ballads. It was also the B side of the Light My Fire single in the summer of 1967. It may have been partly inspired by Jim Morrison’s reading of Celtic folklore**. Ray Manzarek told me that his instrumental piano solo in the middle of the song was influenced by the great jazz pianist and composer Vince Guaraldi***, particularly Vince’s standard piece, and hit from 1962, Cast Your Fate to the Wind. I played Crystal Ship as an organist with the first band I was in, the Tapioca Ballroom Band, in central Florida in 1967-1970.
From the Doors’ first album, THE DOORS.

** Interestingly, I have also been inspired by the other well-known musician named James Morrison (1883-1947), the great Irish fiddler who immigrated to America and recorded 84 very influential tracks between 1921 and 1936. *** Vince Guaraldi (1928-1976) is best known for his music scores for the first sixteen Peanuts animations, by the late Charles Schulz, from 1965 until Vince passed on in 1976. He is one of my favorite composers, and I have recorded two albums of his compositions, LINUS & LUCY – THE MUSIC OF VINCE GUARALDI (1996). LOVE WILL COME – THE MUSIC OF VINCE GUARALDI –VOL 2 (2009). And the four people that did the first sixteen of the Peanuts animations was another great team: Cartoonist Charles Schulz, producer Lee Mendelson, animator Bill Melendez, and pianist Vince Guaraldi.

3. People Are Strange (3:24)

In this version, I was influenced by the late, great New Orleans pianist James Booker (1939-1983), who was the first one to take R&B, soul music, the Blues, New Orleans music, the Professor Longair influence, the Ray Charles influence, and make a whole solo piano style out of those traditions, and more. This song was a hit for the Doors in late 1967.
From the Doors’ second album, STRANGE DAYS.

4. Love Street (4:16)

The poignant ending I used here was influenced by the version of this song as arranged and conducted by Jaz Coleman and featuring violinist Nigel Kennedy, with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, on their album RIDERS ON THE STORM: THE DOORS CONCERTO.

From the Doors’ third album, WAITING FOR THE SUN.

5. Love Me Two Times (3:10)

I also played this great blues-based song with the first band I was in, when it was a hit for the Doors in early 1968. James Booker was the inspiration for my version of this song.
From the Doors’ second album, STRANGE DAYS.

6. Love Her Madly (4:32)

This was the Doors’ next to last hit, in the spring of 1971. My arrangement is once again influenced by James Booker.

From the Doors’ sixth album, L.A. WOMAN.

7. Wishful, Sinful (3:50)

My inspiration, especially at the end of this song, comes from the ocean and the work of the great Brazilian guitarist Bola Sete (1923-1987), and his album OCEAN MEMORIES (Samba Moon Records,

From the Doors’ fourth album, THE SOFT PARADE.

8. Light My Fire (9:55)

I also played Light My Fire, with Ray Manzarek’s great and totally unique organ instrumental, in the first band I was in. Here I also play an arrangement of Robby Krieger’s wonderful guitar solo. My left hand throughout is again influenced by James Booker. The last part of my arrangement is from the song, The End, which was the epic last piece on the Doors’ first album.

Listen to the Doors’ original version, to the value these guys gave to each note—that’s why I love them so much. Light My Fire was their biggest hit, going to #1 in the glorious summer of 1967****.

**** A year later, in the summer of 1968, the great guitarist/vocalist Jose Feliciano had a #3 hit with his rearrangement of Light My Fire, which also featured a great instrumental guitar solo in the middle.

From the Doors’ first album, THE DOORS.

9. My Wild Love (6:08)

Originally recorded by the Doors with only vocals and percussion, as a group chant led by Jim Morrison. Here I play much of it by plucking and muting the strings directly inside the piano, and using an occasional harmonic chime, done the same way as artificial harmonics are played on the guitar with one hand.

From the Doors’ third album, WAITING FOR THE SUN.

10. Summer's Almost Gone (5:27)

From the Doors’ third album, WAITING FOR THE SUN

11. I Can't See Your Face In My Mind (4:09)

This was one of Jim Morrison’s most beautifully sung love ballads.

From the Doors’ second album, STRANGE DAYS

12. Riders On the Storm (7:50)

This was the last song on the last Doors album with all four members, the last song that they recorded with Jim Morrison, and their last hit in 1971. Some of the improvisation in the scale I often use in this song (in the key of E flat minor, with the notes of Eb-F-Ab-Bb-Db-Eb) was also nfluenced by the recording of Jaz Coleman and Nigel Kennedy with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, from their album RIDERS ON THE STORM: THE DOORS CONCERTO. My left hand part again was inspired by James Booker.

From the Doors’ sixth album, L.A. WOMAN.

13. Bird of Prey (2:52)

Originally sung a cappella by Jim Morrison, during his March,1969 poetry reading studio session (one of two poetry recording sessions he did, the other one being on on December 8, 1970). This song was first issued in 1995 as a bonus track on the CD version of his posthumous poetry album originally issued in 1978, AN AMERICAN PRAYER.


All songs written by the Doors: Jim Morrison, Robby Kreiger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore, and published by Doors Music Company (ASCAP).

Produced by George Winston, Howard Johnston and Cathy Econom. A Dancing Cat Production.

Engineered by Howard Johnston
Additional engineering by Justin Lieberman and Jon Mayer
Sonic Wizard: Ron Rigler
Mastered by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood, CA
Piano technician extraordinaire: John Pfeifer
Enhanced CD developed by Tom Leone and Jay Chumley Blink Digital
Cover layout, liner notes assistance & editing by Corrina Burnley and Cathy Econom
Research assistance by Gail Korich and Jennifer Ramsay
Cover photo by Jonathan Frost

Recommended resources - I feel the best way to start experiencing The Doors is to:

  1. hear the 6 studio recordings, slowly, and in order of their release dates
  2. then see the 7 DVDs, listed below
  3. then read the two books by the members of the Doors, Ray Manzarek, and John Densmore
  4. then get the live concert recordings
Official sites:
  1. The Doors official website -
  2. More live recordings, studio outtakes, and interviews are being issued on the Doors’ Bright Midnight label
Band members’ sites:
  1. Robby Krieger’s site -
  2. John Densmore’s site -
  3. Ray Manzarek’s site -
Other research sites:
  1. Kerry Humpherys’ Doors’ Collector Magazine -
  2. The Doors History site -
  3. Mild Equator site -
  4. The Doors Guide site -
  5. Jim Morrison Project - An Audio and Visual Anthology about Jim Morrison & The Doors -
Studio Recordings:

  1. THE DOORS (Elektra Records) – January 1967 release.
  2. STRANGE DAYS (Elektra Records) – October 1967 release.
  3. WAITING FOR THE SUN (Elektra Records) – July 1968 release.
  4. THE SOFT PARADE (Elektra Records) – July 1969 release.
  5. MORRISON HOTEL (Elektra Records) – February 1970 release.
  6. L.A. WOMAN (Elektra Records) – April 1971 release.
  • Also the first six albums (along with a bonus CD of some of the bonus track material from the Doors’ 1997 box set, see #8 below) are also available together in the box set, THE DOORS – THE COMPLETE STUDIO RECORDINGS (Elektra);
  • and the first six albums are also available in the 2006 box set PERCEPTIONS with bonus tracks and DVD footage for each album.
Other Recordings:

  1. AN AMERICAN PRAYER (Elektra Records) – 1978 release – Jim Morrison’s poetry album. The poetry was recorded in December 1970, with accompanying music added by the three other Doors later.

  2. THE DOORS BOX SET (Elektra Records) – 1997 release – 4 CD set, containing mainly live songs, studio outtakes and their six early demos from 1965, and an informative booklet with comments by the three band members and more.
  3. THE DOORS LOST INTERVIEW TAPES W/ JIM MORRISON - Volumes 1 & 2 (Bright Midnight Archives)
Live Recordings:

  1. THE DOORS LIVE AT THE MATRIX (Bright Midnight Archives) – double CD set of the March 7 & 10 1967 performances in San Francisco.
  2. LIVE AT THE BOWL ’68 (Electra Records) – the complete July 5, 1968 Hollywood Bowl concert, with three previously unreleased tracks restored and added in, making this the first time the concert has been available in its entirety: Hello I Love You, The WASP (Texas Radio and The Big Beat), and Spanish Caravan. Also on DVD.
  3. THE DOORS IN CONCERT (Elektra Records) – double CD of live tracks from 1968-1970, including all the tracks from the originally issued 1970 live album, ABSOLUTELY LIVE.
  4. LIVE AT THE AQUARIUS THEATRE: THE FIRST PERFORMANCE (Bright Midnight Archives) – double CD of the first show on July 21,1969 in Los Angeles.
  5. LIVE AT THE AQUARIUS THEATRE: THE SECOND PERFORMANCE (Bright Midnight Archives) – double CD of the second show from July 21,1969 in Los Angeles.
  6. BACKSTAGE AND DANGEROUS: THE PRIVATE REHEARSAL (Bright Midnight Records) – July 22 ,1969 private rehearsal on the day after the Aquarius Theater concerts in Los Angeles.
  7. THE DOORS LIVE IN NEW YORK – FELT FORUM (Bright Midnight Archives) – 6 CD set of the four shows from January 17 &18, 1970 (two shows each night).
  8. THE DOORS LIVE IN BOSTON (Bright Midnight Archives) – double CD set of the two shows from April 10, 1970.
  9. THE DOORS LIVE IN PHILADELPHIA (Bright Midnight Archives) – double CD set of the May 1, 1970 concert.
  10. THE DOORS LIVE IN PITTSBURG (Bright Midnight) – single CD of the May 2, 1970 concert.
  11. THE DOORS LIVE IN DETROIT (Bright Midnight Archives) – double CD set of the May 8, 1970 concert.
  12. THE DOORS LIVE IN VANCOUVER 1970 (Bright Midnight Archives) – double CD set of the June 6, 1970 concert. This concert also features the great Blues guitarist Albert King, (who opened for the Doors that night), sitting in on four songs: Little Red Rooster, Money, Rock Me, and Who Do You Love.
  13. The Doors in Concert (Elektra Records) – double CD of live tracks from 1968-1970, including all the tracks from the originally issued 1970 live album, Absolutely Live, which has tracks from several of the live concerts listed above.

  1. THE DOORS COLLECTION – 3 hour DVD collection of videos, television performances live performances, most of the 1968 Hollywood Bowl concert, and more. The bonus footage also has a option to view the entire three hours again with commentary by the three living members of the Doors. - issued in 1999.
  2. WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE - documentary on The Doors, with much previously unseen footage , including outtake footage from Jim Morrison’s film HWY, and more - issued in 2010 - (and you can see HWY on You Tube)
  3. LIVE AT THE BOWL ’68 – the complete July 5, 1968 Hollywood Bowl concert, with three previously unreleased tracks restored and added back in, making this the first time the concert has been available in its entirety: Hello, I Love You, The WASP (Texas Radio and The Big Beat), and Spanish Caravan, along with bonus footage on the restoration of the film, and more.
  4. Feast of Friends - now restored and remixed, this was the only film produced about The Doors by The Doors themselves, and was filmed during their tour in the summer of 1968. It also included three bonus features:
    (1) Feast of Friends: Encore– archive footage of The Doors band from this time period;
    (2) The Doors are Open – The British TV documentary of The Doors September 1968 preformance at London s Roundhouse;
    (3) performance of The End - in Toronto, Canada in August 1967, and has later interviews with John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Danny Sugerman.
    – issued in 2012
  5. THE DOORS ARE OPEN – Live at the Roundhouse in London in September 1968.
  6. LIVE IN EUROPE, 1968 – Based around a live Danish TV performance in September 1968.
  7. THE DOORS – CLASSIC ALBUMS – documentary on the recording of the Doors first album, with interviews with the three living members and their recording engineer Bruce Botnick, and more – issued in 2008
  8. THE DOORS – MR. MOJO RISIN’: THE STORY OF L.A. WOMAN – documentary on the recording of the Doors sixth and last album, with interviews with the three living members and their recording engineer Bruce Botnick, also with archival footage, and more – issued in 2012
  9. The Doors – R - Evolution – restored film footage of 19 television appearances and bonus footage. The Deluxe Edition has a 40 page booklet – issued in 2013
  10. The Doors – From the Outside – year by year (1966-1971) documentary told by people that knew the Doors

  1. LIGHT MY FIRE: MY LIFE WITH THE DOORS – (1998) – The story of the Doors by organist Ray Manzarek.
  2. RIDERS ON THE STORM – (1991) – The story of the Doors by drummer John Densmore.
  3. THE DOORS: UNHINGED (2013) – Later history of the Doors by drummer John Densmore.
  4. THE LORDS AND THE NEW CREATURES – (1970) – Poetry by Jim Morrison.
  5. WILDERNESS: THE LOST WRITINGS OF JIM MORRISON – Published posthumously in 1989.
  6. THE AMERICAN NIGHT (THE WRITINGS OF JIM MORRISON, VOLUME 2) – Published posthumously in 1991.
  7. THE DOORS – THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY – (1983) – Compiled by the Doors’ late manager Danny Sugerman. Extensive scrapbook of news clippings and photographs.
  8. THE DOORS – THE COMPLETE LYRICS – (1992) – Edited by Danny Sugerman.
  9. NO ONE HERE GETS OUT ALIVE – (1980) – by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman – Story of Jim Morrison and the Doors.
  10. The Doors By the Doors – (2006) – by the Doors with Ben Fong-Torres – The story of the Doors told by the four band members, compiled by Ben Fong-Torres with many photos.
  11. The Jim Morrison Scrapbook – (2007) – by James Henke – Jim Morrison’s history told with interviews with his family, friends, and the Doors members; along with poetry, lyrics, photos, and more.
  12. Jim Morrison – Friends Gathered Together – (2014) - by Frank Lisciandro – myth-shattering converstions with Jim’s friends.
  13. THE ULTIMATE DOORS COMPANION (aka THE DOORS: A GUIDE) – (2000) – by Doug Sundling. The stories behind each song and album, essays on the band, and more.
  14. THE DOORS: WHEN THE MUSIC’S OVER – (2000) – by Chuck Crisafulli and Dave DiMartino - The stories behind every Doors’ song.
  15. THE DOORS ON THE ROAD – (1997) by Greg Shaw. A listing of every known Doors concert and appearance, with song lists where possible and other information.
  16. BREAK ON THROUGH – THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JIM MORRISON –(1991) by James Riordan & Jerry Prochnicky – A history of Jim Morrison and the Doors.
  17. RIMBAUD AND JIM MORRISON – (2000) – by Wallace Fowlie – Literary analysis of Jim Morrison’s poetry, and one of Jim’s biggest inspirations, Arthur Rimbaud, by a scholar of French literature and professor at Duke University.
  18. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JIM MORRISON IN ALEXANDRA, VIRGINIA – (2006) - by Mark Opsasnick – historical perspective of Jim Morrison’s high school years in the Washington D.C. area from 1959 to 1961 – his literary inspirations, along with the history of the area in general, and a history of the music in the area in the 1950s and the 1960s from Washington D.C, and points south on what is now along Highway 95 and Highway 1, down to the Richmond, Virginia area.
  19. THE JIM MORRISON SCRAPBOOK – (2007) – by James Henke – Jim Morrison’s history told with interviews with his family, friends, and the Doors members; along with poetry, lyrics, photos, and more.
  20. THE DOORS FAQ – (2011) – by Rich Weidman. An exploration of the Doors from their beginning up to 2011.
  21. THE DOORS: A LIFETIME OF LISTENING TO FIVE MEAN YEARS – (2011) – By Greil Marcus. -Essays on the Doors.

Ongoing essay on The Doors

Vince Guaraldi (1928-1976) and his music are very much a part of this whole process for me. On Thursday, December 9, 1965, I saw the first broadcast of the Charlie Brown Christmas episode on TV. I watched it because I was a fan of animation, and of the Peanuts comic strip. I was enjoying the show, and then the scene happened when Charlie Brown was trying to get the kids in line to rehearse for the annual Christmas play. He asks Schroeder to set the mood with some Christmas music for the rehearsal, and instead Schroeder plays Linus and Lucy and the kids dance wildly. As the song was played twice more in the episode, I went more and more crazy over it and also the sound of the piano in that song, and I loved the beauty of the whole soundtrack.

At that time I was a fanatical fan of instrumental music, and much more of the organ at that time (especially jazz organists Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Gene Ludwig, Little Richie Varola, and the Rascles organist Felix Cavaliere), really only obsessing over six piano songs: Kokomo’s (aka Jimmy Wisner) Asia Minor, Floyd Cramer’s Last Date and On the Rebound, B Bumble & the Stingers’ Nut Rocker (with Ali Hussan on piano), Jack Fina’s Bumble Boogie, and Vince Guaraldi’s Cast Your Fate to the Wind. I was going to high school in Coral Gables/ Miami, Florida at the time, and I went with my best friend Clark Cochran to the record store in the Dadeland Mall the very next night (as we usually did on Friday nights, when we didn’t have a basketball game), and I saw the soundtrack album A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS displayed up on the wall at the store and that the soundtrack was by Vince Guaraldi (the “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” composer - I missed seeing it when the credits rolled at the end of the Charlie Brown Christmas episode the night before). I couldn’t believe it, and I was so excited that “that song” (Linus and Lucy) would likely be on the record. I got it and went home immediately, and played the beginning of each song until I found it. The whole album was like one long song with multiple parts all unified into one so beautiful statement, and this was the first time I had that experience with an album. It was also an unbelievable feeling to be able to play Linus and Lucy whenever I wanted. I was not playing music yet, and didn’t for about 1 ½ more years (the summer of 1967), but I felt the same satisfaction of buying a record I loved as I later did being able to play a song that I loved – I “played the record player” as was the joke at that time. I had taken a few piano lessons at 6 years old or so, so I knew a little bit, and I went to the piano occasionally with Clark, and we would fool around with trying to play to play the left hand part (in the key of C, not in A flat as Vince had done it).

I have listened to that album ever since December 10, 1965, and I still learn from it and am inspired by it. I got and still get everything of Vince’s, and I watched and audio taped each Peanuts TV episode. In January, 1967, on another Friday night at the record store, this time on Miracle Mile (in Coral Gables), and Clark came up to be with The Doors first album, saying “This band has organ” (he was an organ freak also), and I bought it because on the credits on the back it said “Ray Manzarek, organ, piano, bass”. When I got home and heard “Break On Through (To the Other Side)”, it was the greatest and deepest thing I had ever heard. Listening to the album that night inspired me to get an organ and play in a band. The whole album was like one long song, and that album was the second time I experienced as album as one unified long song with multiple parts, and Vince Guaraldi’s album had prepared me for listening to The Doors’ first album. I later learned that one of Ray Manzarek’s inspirations was Vince Guaraldi, especially for his beautiful instrumental piano solo in the Doors’ song The Crystal Ship. As they were working on the song in the studio guitarist Robby Krieger had suggested that Ray “do Vince Guaraldi”, and Ray instantly agreed and came up with his great piano solo in that song. In drummer John Densmore’s 1991 book about The Doors, RIDERS ON THE STORM, on the bottom of page 255 he talks about the Doors recording the song Riders On the Storm, saying “ ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ meets Vince Guaraldi!” I imagine that Clark and I were some of the first people to hear The Doors outside of Los Angeles and New York, the two cities they had played in before making their first album.

After I switched to solo piano from organ in 1971, after hearing and being inspired do so by hearing the 1920s & 1930s recordings of the great Stride pianist Thomas “Fats” Waller, I needed repertoire (and I couldn’t play Stride piano right away), and Vince’s songs from his jazz albums and from the first 16 of the Peanuts episodes that he scored before he passed away were the first ones I started learning, along with songs by The Doors, which took a long time to figure out how I wanted to play them, and how to play them. Playing The Doors’ music forced me to look as deep in myself as possible. Much later The Doors’ songs became staples of the solo piano dances I started doing in 1999.

The Doors music has many deep functions for me:
  1. it functions as traditional music, like Appalachian fiddle tunes do for traditional musicians that grew up with them (and as the Appalachian fiddle tunes function for my solo harmonica playing and my solo guitar playing);
  2. their songs also function as standards for me (modern standards, just as if I played older standards from the 1920s through the 1950s, which I still do a few of);
  3. as my first and still biggest connection to the Blues, especially via their version of Willie Dixon’s Back Door Man, and the way they use the Blues as an inspiration for many of their pieces, such as Love Me Two Times;
  4. as an inspiration to interpret songs I love (both from wanting to play their songs, and from the way they interpret other composers’ songs);
  5. as an inspiration to play and keep playing (I started playing organ in 1967 after hearing their first album);
  6. to improve and find myself musically (and otherwise);
  7. having their songs to play in the various concerts I do: solo piano concerts, solo guitar concerts, solo harmonica concerts, solo piano dances, impromptu playing & more situations);
  8. to try to investigate and be inspired by (but not actually do) arts other than music;
  9. to shed personally irrelevant personal and social conventions (or at least to not “believe” them, even if it is necessary or harmonious or less trouble to just do them –and to not “believe” at all –rather to just access the probabilities of things);
  10. and realizing that Jim Morrison is the main essence of my right hand on the piano, which finally makes it all make sense….