Friday, 13 August 2010

Strange Days at Café Chouette

After a period of rather scary unemployment, I am now working on a contract basis for a property company in the west end of London which now means that I can now eat without worrying about what I need to sell first. Across the road from my office in what has become over the years, the Lebanese quarter of London, sits a small café run by a delightful posse of girls who supply my mid-morning Latte. I sheltered there whilst waiting for my interview for the job I now have so it has become a bit of a sanctuary.


Usually, I enter at around 10.30 to be greeted with a smile and a rush of piped music, sometimes western pop, other times of ethnic origin and all this seems to fit the ambience perfectly. But last time I tripped up the steps I was met by ‘Love me Two Times’ by the Doors from their second album, ‘Strange Days’ and somehow, it felt very incongruous. I’m not sure why this should be so but Jim and the Boys were stood out like the proverbial sore digit.

Actually, I like ‘Strange days’ a lot despite the fact that it sold poorly on release in 1967. It has all the usual hallmarks of a classic second album – it came too soon after their debut and comprised mainly of material left over from the sessions for the first album. Despite all this and the fact that everybody else’s second album turned out to a bit of a re-heated meal as a consequence, I prefer it to the more celebrated ‘The Doors’. The material has a more psychedelic feel and its 12 minute centre piece ‘When the Music’s Over’ is better realised than the similarly lengthy ‘The End’ from their debut. All in all, a good listen and an album I would put in my top three Doors’ albums along with ‘Morrison Hotel’ and ‘LA Woman’.

So getting back to my café, why did The Doors sound so out of place? Perhaps it was my own preconceptions of what should fit? Certainly, the staff had no problems and the customers weren’t making an undignified dash for the door, which just goes to show how universal music can be and how it can cut across cultural boundaries if given the chance. Or perhaps the pastries are too good to leave?

I think I may be guilty of allowing myself to be brainwashed by the media who insist on compartmentalising music to the extent that you feel some square pegs should not be played in round holes. I should return to my mantra: there are only two types of music, good and bad.

8 comments:

Dan said...

Luv that album also. I have the same 3 favorites as you although I really enjoy Waiting For the Sun also. I always enjoy entering a unique place playing my favorite tunes.

music obsessive said...

Hi Dan. Glad to see you have good taste! Yeah, there's nothing better than turning up somewhere and finding that they're playing some of your fav stuff. Magic.

luminous muse said...

Maybe I should revisit the Doors and see if I can overcome my longstanding prejudice against. Jim M. It has a basis -I good money to see a drunken Morrison the same month I saw J. Hendrix, and believe me Jim didn't compare well. And I was in a Doors tribute band, which didn't compare well with the Doors and had other down sides.

As I remember, that Music's over thing was better than the end....

Oh yeah - you're right Dusty's "I Count to Ten" is stuck in my head. And I what do you think of Lulu? I saw her interviewed about Dusty. Amazingly she still looks about 20. And she sounds great, too.

music obsessive said...

Hi Luminous. Luckily I didn't really get into The Doors until just after Jim died so didn't have the chance to see him wreck his own legacy. My memories are vinyl only.

Not a great fan of Lulu but you're right, she still looks good for her age. I wonder how she's managed that...?

Perplexio said...

It's funny you should mention the compartmentalizing of pop music...

I've got Billboard's Top 100 hits (for the US) for every year in the 80s and I could/can hear a definite transition from a somewhat eclectic mix of music-- I mean Kim Carnes Bette Davis Eyes, with Don McLean's Cryin', Eddie Rabbit's I Love a Rainy Night, and Foreigner's Urgent all from the 1981 hits. Quite an eclectic mix. But by the late 80s the music seemed considerably more homogenized. There wasn't the variety that had existed in the early 80s. There was definitely more of a pop focus.

I think hearing The Doors in a Lebanese cafe is kind of cool... very unexpected yes but I'd have considered it a wonderfully unexpected surprise.

music obsessive said...

Perplexio - funny you should also mention that subject as I have another post on the same theme in the works. Watch this space...

And, yes, it was a nice surprise really!

Charlie said...

Congratulations on the new position!. Glad things worked out for you!

My favorite Doors album was always their last one with Morrison, L. A. Woman.

I had tickets to a Doors concert in Philadelphia that I bought with my own hard money. Shortly before the big night I was looking forward to so much Dirty Jim dropped his pants in Miami, a famous incident written about many times. My Mom found out, took my tickets, and I never got to go. What a waste of a part time job! Oh well!

music obsessive said...

Thanks Charlie. What a desperate story. There is nothing worse than waiting weeks to see a great band only to have it dashed from you at the last minute. It has happened to me twice where a key member of a band has left just before the gig I was due attend - aarrgghh! I still went on both occasions but it wasn't the same. Damn bands!