Break On Through, Ray. Break On Through.

by Brandon

I just found out that Ray Manzarek, a founding member of The Doors, has died. He was 74 years old, so you wouldn’t think it would have a big impact on me, but it does.

You see, Ray genuinely changed the way I hear music and the way I view art. I’m guessing I was about 15 or so when I first discovered The Doors. My first exposure to their music was when another band used the song “People Are Strange” in the movie The Lost Boys. As a young teenager, I fell in love with that movie to the point that it (along with Fright Night) has played a significant role in determining the books I write today. Day Soldiers is largely inspired by those movies, where vampires are monsters and the people who kill them are heroes.

But I didn’t just fall in love with that movie… I fell in love with that song. I bought the Lost Boys soundtrack and discovered that “People Are Strange” was originally a song by The Doors. Of course, I went out and bought the first two Doors albums (“The Doors” and “Strange Days”).

That was the day music changed for me.


Before that day, I loved music. I loved to sing and I loved to rock out to AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I loved music from the 50′s and I loved the hippie music from the 60′s.

But until the day I listened to that first Doors album, I didn’t know that music could be a deeply spiritual experience.

I know it sounds trite to say this, but to my 15 year old brain, the music from the Doors was spiritual. I didn’t just hear the music… I felt it.

Incidentally, my wife was the first person I heard describe music as spiritual. She was referring to the band Tool, but her description perfectly explains how I felt about The Doors. It really was spiritual. Not religious, mind you. Spiritual.

The Doors also showed me that music can be scary. The Doors’ music actually provoked fear in me.

I’d never had such an emotional reaction to music before. Since then, I’ve learned to listen to music in a much more emotional way, but it started with The Doors.

Since that day, The Doors has permeated my musical life. If someone talks about a great band, I almost immediately draw parallels to The Doors.

My very first novel (which will never be published) was written almost entirely with The Doors playing in the background.

As I get older, my musical library has expanded significantly, but there will always be a playlist devoted to The Doors.

And Ray Manzarek was one of the people who gave that music to me and the world.

I’m no music expert. I have no idea how skilled Ray was. I have no idea how innovative he was.

I don’t care.

It was Ray and Jim and John and Robbie who collectively taught me that music is greater than the sum of its parts.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Rest in peace, Ray.

And thank you.


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