by Adrian Ernesto Cepeda
Los Angeles, California
As a young rock ‘n roll enthusiast, one of my earliest prized vinyl possessions was my seven inch single for The Doors "Light My Fire." Even when I wasn’t spinning it on my vintage turntable, I would stare at it, trying to soak up the aura of this magical black record. It was so powerful to me, that a little 7 inch single could inspire such a magical sound. There’s something about vinyl and holding that record in my hand that made my connection to the music more intimately personal.
Hearing "Light My Fire" on my own vinyl record was what eventually led me to my 2004 pilgrimage to Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. I went to France to pay my respects to one the most influential poets, singers and songwriters—Jim Morrison and The Doors. "Light My Fire," the single version was 2:52 of pure poetry. Robert Frost may have lead me on the road to verse but Morrison, Krieger, Densmore and Manzarek’s magically opened the doors of poetry for me. I remember putting my ear to my speaker, lifting the needle on my turntable over and over, just to try to decipher the lyrics to my favorite Doors song. [This was way before the invention of the internet, when all you had to do was type in a song and the official lyrics actually appear on your computer screen.]
Back then we had to re-listen to each song just to get clues to the words to our most beloved songs. Growing up, everyone I knew thought "Light My Fire" was penned by James Douglas Morrison when in fact it was guitarist Robbie Krieger who came up with and brought the original song idea to The Doors. As we learned from various documentaries, The Doors biographies and even in Oliver Stone’s film, Krieger brought "Light My Fire" unfinished to the band, yet Morrison saved the day by completing the song with "♫ the time to hesitate is through ♫" section in the second verse. The album version has a long extended John Coltrane inspired instrumental section that was composed by Ray Manzarek.
The band’s label Elektra wanted to release "Light My Fire" as a single and cut the song into the version I cherished and owned on wax over thirty years ago. If you were to go back in time and tell my younger self, listening to my beloved "Light My Fire" single on vinyl, that one day I would pay my respects to Jim Morrison at his gravestone in Paris, I’d say that you were mad? But it did happen and it was a very moving experience being at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. I had gone to Europe to become an English translator but standing in front of Morrison’s grave enlightened me towards another path; there was a more lyrical road I needed to follow.
The spark like connection that was originally lit with my seven inch single was more vibrant in person in front of Morrison’s tombstone and it ignited the poet in me. I realized my life’s destiny was to go back home to America and follow my fate of living my life through the craft of my poetry. And now I live in Los Angeles with my wife, the love of my life, in the city that birthed The Doors. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without my favorite wax single of "Light My Fire." Thank You Robbie Krieger, Jim Morrison, John Densmore and Ray Manzarek for creating the song that I’ll be able to tell my children, one day, changed my destiny and literally saved my life.