Light My Fire



It was 1967 and you and I and everybody else heard this song by The Doors. I was a nice middle class girl attending college, but I’d already been married for two years, so the full import of Jim Morrison’s full frontal sonic assault was not lost on me. Up until that time, the sexiest record I possessed was one of Richard Burton reading John Donne’s love poems – which, by the way, was pretty sexy. The Doors’ lyrics were nowhere near that verbal elegance, and the whole bit, in retrospect, has something of that kid-who–thinks-he-just-invented-sex bombast, but Morrison was definitely the strutting cock of the walk that summer.

Now, gray-haired and arthritic, beset on every side by decay, I go several times a week to a “Granny” gym class, a.k.a., Silver Sneakers©.    It’s ordinarily helpful to listen to old pop music to get stiff, often painful joints moving. I can lift weights or work out with stretchy bands to “Money,” “Maybelline,” “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Downtown” without too bitter an experience of the heavy–handed irony of my current situation. However, the other day, toward the end of the workout, with a vocalist pumped up and screaming like a power-lifter on his final try, backed by a ghetto blaster beat, I was confronted with—for the first time in years—’Light My Fire’. 

I wanted to laugh. I wanted to cry. I wanted to stop obediently working my triceps, drop the dinky weights, and go dancing around the room in my present old lame body. I wonder if I could have recreated, using muscle memory, just an instant of that long gone time.


~~Juliet Waldron

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Filed under music, writing

7 responses to “Light My Fire

  1. What is it about music, Juliet, that instantly brings back memories of earlier times in our lives?

    As a lad, I laughed at my parents’ music — the big bands of the 40s, and of course couldn’t understand their connection to that part of their own youth. Of course, I understand it all too well today. I have a rather large CD collection and most of it is composed of the classic rock of the 60s and 70s. Today, whenever I hear John Lennon’s voice on a Beatles tune or one of his solo albums, I’m taken back to that December night when, while watching Monday Night Football, I heard the news that he’d been gunned down.

    Somewhere in my 40s I developed a love of the music of my parents’ youth. Were it not for Glen Miller and the Dorseys, etc., rock and roll would not have been born.

    I find fascinating that Generation X seems to embrace the music of my youth — the Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, yes, the Doors. I own a video of Paul McCartney’s recent New York concert and was amazed by the number of young people in rapture of his performance of old Beatles tunes. All of which says a lot about today’s music.

    • Well, seems like this was a particularly cool decade for dance around the room music. Have a huge LP collection which still plays…although I’ve been open to all sorts of music for most of my life, from baroque to classical to opera to jazz and pop from all eras–including stuff I used to hate that belongs to my parents’ big band era. (Guys like Benny Goodman could REALLY play.) Sound apparently does all sorts of interesting things to the brain and to our perception of “reality,” so this has got to be the root of strong associations–even religious fervor–it dredges up. Don’t call some of these oldies “rock’n’roll anthems” for nothing, I guess.

      • Music is a universal language, Juliet. It bridges cultures, can incite a people to revolt, and bring two lonely hearts together. Listening or watching a band or an orchestra is proof that people can work together in unity. What a beautiful world it would be if we communicated through lyrics and melodies.

  2. Irony is a killer, isn’t it? On the other hand, now more than ever, we need a bit of “fire” of some kind, even if it’s not the fire of our youth.

    • As we grow older, we must learn to appreciate irony more. Perhaps the “smile” on those antique statues is meant to have been born of that particular emotion. My oldest just turned 48 today…unbelievable.

  3. Juliet, as they say, I feel your pain!

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