John Densmore urges fans NOT to buy The Doors Record Store Day contribution “Ghost Song/Drums”! Well, not quite. In an interview with Billboard Magazine Densmore and artist Shepard Fairey talk about their Record Store Day collaboration, its timeliness and the synchronicity of the release in light of the events still happening in Ferguson, Missouri and the death of Michael Brown.
Densmore has spoken out before regarding the events in Ferguson (John Densmore Speaks Out on Ferguson, MO) and said, “Who knows, maybe history will look back at this as the death throes of racism and see the deaths of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin in the same light as we now look upon the deaths of Emmet Till or Medgar Evers, and Ferguson as the new Selma.” However, the interview with Fairey on November 26th goes beyond that with Fairey and Densmore being especially eloquent on the subject.
The “Ghost Song” side of the release has a very Native American motif in keeping with Jim Morrison’s interest in Native American culture. The “Drums” side is a song by Native American folk singer Peter LaFarge who now largely unknown was an early influence in Folk Music. LaFarge was an early influence on the young Robert Zimmerman who would later achieve fame as Bob Dylan. Johnny Cash also covered LaFarge songs such as “Drums” and “The Ballad of Ira Hayes.”
In the Billboard interview, Densmore and Fairey equate the racism and systematic genocide faced by Native Americans is still factor in American culture today as illustrated by the events in Ferguson, and the response by authorities may be a cycle that both creates and rationalizes their response to protesters. Also discussed is art being a reflection of the surrounding society and how past artists have responded to events such as the 1970 Kent State shooting and that while so far nothing as iconic as the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song “Ohio” has come forth, it is still early. With the ability to digitally release music the song or artwork that concisely sums up the movement may be close to realization.
Densmore, while hoping the “Ghost Song/Drums” will bring more awareness of Native American issues to light (the release benefits the Honor the Treaties Organization) that a form of protest would be not to purchase it on Record Store Day but wait until tomorrow (November 29th).
To read the John Densmore, Shepard Fairey interview with Billboard Magazine in full, follow the link to the article. To find the closest independent record store to you visit the Record Store Day website.
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