033093 Robbie Krieger, Gatineau, QC

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My only brush with The Doors came on March 30th, 1993 when Robbie Krieger played a very unlikely venue in Gatineau called Houblon.  I went with my good friend Jojo and we had a whale of a time.

The place was a tavern through-and-through, with cheap mismatched chairs pulled up to uneven tables, a wooden motif adorned with old signs and rusty trinkets, and servers dishing out quarts of 50 by the hundreds.  One end of the bar had a stage and upon that stage the guitar player from one of the most important bands in the history of psychedelic rock led a collection of competent musicians through his ubiquitous back catalogue.

Krieger himself was singing, and if that seems odd I should quickly add that he played all the old Doors hits as blues songs.  Memorable hit after memorable hit, and each one arranged as a twelve-bar.  Of course this was easy pickins for songs like Roadhouse Blues or even Love Me Two Times, but the blues pastiche actually worked surprisingly well with all the songs.

Krieger even started taking requests by the end of the night and every last song came off perfectly as a straight-up blues.  It was great.

After the show Jojo and I got to meet the legendary guitar player.  When our turn came up we joined Robbie at his table backstage where he was enjoying a cup of post-show tea.  While we waited we had both thought of a question to ask him.  Jojo asked what his favourite song to play live with the band was back in the day.  After a bit of reflection Robbie answered, “When the Music’s Over.”  Jojo and I nodded like he had just bequeathed the meaning of life upon us.

Then it was my turn.  I asked him if he could tell me the final words of Touch Me.  You know, those horn shots at the end of the song that Morrison punches up with four undecipherable syllables.  Krieger stopped to think for a minute before replying, “Drunker than dirt.”  

“Ahhhh,”  I said, thanking him and probably bowing a little.  

The three of us shook hands again and as we were walking out Robbie suddenly blurted out, “Stronger!”

“Huh?…What?” we asked, turning back.

“It’s ‘stronger’,” Robbie Krieger said to me.  “I was mistaken.  The lyric is ‘stronger than dirt’”.

Of course it is.  Jojo and I nodded and bowed a final time and were gone.  

I’m so, so glad he corrected himself before we left.

(I have since come to learn that Morrison lifted the closing lyric and it’s rhythmic delivery from a jingle for Ajax detergent.  As a matter of fact, Ajax successfully sued The Doors for using their jingle without permission and were awarded half of the royalties from Touch Me.)  

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