The first time I heard the Doors I was eight years old and living in Mystic, Connecticut. It was 1985 and Hurricane Gloria was paying New England a visit. She was the strongest hurricane the East Coast had seen in over a decade and had already made landfall twice before galloping into Connecticut.
As the sky rapidly deepened into shadows, the air quivered with anticipation. Leaves and trees started to whip into a frenzy as we watched from our windows at the growing storm. Before it got too bad, I was allowed to stand in the yard and lift my arms up, embracing the wind.
There’s something so magnificent about experiencing the immensity of Mother Nature as you’re left exposed to the fragility and preciousness of your own life. Even as a child, the feeling was thrilling and humbling in equal measure. As the energy built up around our house, I was ushered back inside.
Suddenly, the lights went out.
That was our family’s cue to head downstairs and into the basement where there was some small measure of safety. In the darkness, with the wind howling and buffeting outside and the candle flames flickering and prancing, we huddled around a little battery powered radio for any tidbit of news.
That’s when the DJ came on the air. I still remember his voice- warm tones dipped in honey- so calm and mesmerizing, as if he was the last soul left in the world and speaking directly to us. He said, “It looks like we’re going to have to go off air and make way for Gloria, but before we go, I’m going to leave you with this final song….”
The sound of thunder and rain came from the little radio, a pale echo to the fury outside. Haunting notes of an electronic piano came floating out over the din, an emissary sent to greet the hurricane. Shadows from the candles were racing across the walls as Jim Morrison’s voice crept into the room, “Riders on the storm….Riders on the storm…”
It was dark and mysterious and slightly dangerous. A tendril of inhibition and recklessness slowly unfurled. The first glimpse that life was full of a vast unknown, sometimes ferocious and tumultuous, but also eerily beautiful. A wild horse to be ridden across grassy plains with the wind and rain chasing. I was entranced and completely enveloped by the atmosphere. Breathlessly, I turned and asked, “Who IS this, Daddy?”
He replied, “This is The Doors, honey. This is The Doors.”