“Motel, money, murder, madness,
Let’s change the mood from glad to sadness”
Since Miles Davis’ 1957 seminal works, ‘Birth of The Cool’, the word ‘cool’ has best been used as a noun. It’s, well, just a bit more cool. When describing something, it’s should be thought of in the same sense as, say, a place name can sometimes, irritatingly, be used as an adjective. As in, “that sound is so Los Angeles.”
I seem to recall a judge once said of pornography, “it can be hard to describe, but you know it when you see it”. When I say recall, I mean I read about it in a law book, rather than actually heard the judge say it. From the dock.
I’d argue the same can said of ‘cool’ – you’ll struggle to pin it down in words or capture its meaning with any effectiveness. But as sure as you know you can’t be cool chasing a ping-pong ball down the street, you know that when you see it, you know something’s cool. And if you want to know what cool sounds like, then listen to The Doors’ exquisite 1971 record, ‘L. A. Woman’. The very quintessence of cool.
Jim Morrison’s gravelly vocal laid against Robbie Krieger’s horn-inducing, seductive guitar lines and the beautifully minimalist rhythm accompaniments will make you melt or growl, depending where you are or who you’re with. In the coolest possible way.
The roaring opener, ‘The Changeling‘, sets you up for the groove-fest that follows. ‘Been Down So Long‘ is not just instrumentally spot on, but lyrically moving in a way that actually draws your gut in, but very slowly. The sheer class and quality continues all the way through, with belters like ‘Crawling King Snake‘ and ‘The WASP‘ keeping things raw, emotive and quite brilliant.
The best blues
Never mind being the best Doors album, I’d go so far as to say this is one of the best blues albums from non-pure-blues artists of all time.
This blog is easy to write at times as all I do is listen to an album and write about how it makes me feel. And listening to ‘L. A. Woman’ just makes you feel cool, no matter how uncool you are, which is quite something.
It’s being a nobody, strutting down Berwick Street feeling so confident you think you could take out Anthony Joshua in the 11th. It’s drinking a round with Brad Pitt, listening to his woes of divorce, thinking that if you’ve survived a bust-up or two with your partner and are still in a half-stable, half-happy relationship you’ve somehow achieved more in life than he has. It’s buying a blue denim jacket in your mid-thirties and feeling like you did when you wore one in the mid-nineties.
I’ve done two of these three in the past week. And I know none of them are that cool. But if you do pretty much anything to a soundtrack of this, Morrison, Krieger & co’s finest hour then you may even feel like you were Brad Pitt taking down Joshua in the last and stealing his denim jacket after it just for the crack.
At over 7 minutes long you’d think you’d want them to end, but the closing tracks of both sides of the LP – ‘L. A. Woman‘ and ‘Riders of the Storm‘ are so engaging, so gripping, so absorbing and so much fun you just want them to go on and on.
Miles Davis may have given birth to it, but with ‘L. A. Woman’, The Doors epitomized cool for generations to come. A fitting send-off to and from the great, the legendary Jim Morrison, who died 3 months after the album was released.
Howard Jacobson appears to be the first to have put pen to paper to satirise the horror show that is the post-election United States administration and has done so with a parody of Trump and various other unsavoury characters’ earlier lives in the run up to the vote.
In his inimitable and unmatchable style, Jacobson uses precision of detail and beautifully crafted language to tackle the serious issue in a funny but devastatingly castigating way. And it leaves you thinking, thank god real life isn’t like this…until you remember what he’s writing about and it makes you wish some of the politicians society is offered as a choice were only a tenth as competent as Jacobson is a writer. Bravo, Mr Jacobson, your fury is shared.