I am going to analyze the images of inferno and paradiso found in the songs and in the career of the musical band, the Doors. Their songs take audiences into the deep depths of darkness and in doing so reveal the dichotomy between paradise and hell. The Doors had their moments of seemingly endless paradise, but yet several instances of inferno. Additionally, their music derived from the conditions they were seeing and feeling under the scattered sun of the 1960’s. Moreover, the scattered sun can represent the inferno in Dante’s Inferno. Thus, I’ll analyze how the “scattered sun” played a role in both the Doors songs and the adaptation of the book Dante’s Inferno.
One song that is of importance is the song “Waiting for The Sun” which emphasizes the duality of inferno and paradiso. The sun mentioned in the repeated lyric “waiting for the sun” can represent freedom, light, peace, joy harmony, justice, hope, and dreams. Moreover, it represents the hope and dreams of a generation scarred by tension and anxiety. This song was released in the Doors 3rd Album, Morrison Hotel, in the year 1970. By then, Robert F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X had been assassinated. Not only had important leaders (who symbolized hope for change) been killed, but the U.S. was involved in the Vietnam War and the Cold War as well. These were tough, turbulent times for people in America. As a result, a longing for change and transformation began. As mentioned by Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek in his book “Light My Fire: My Life With The Doors”, the sixties were about stopping this madness, “Stop war! Stop the killing Love thy neighbor as thyself and do unto others as you would have others do unto you...It’s what the sixties were all about. It’s why we were in the streets, protesting, fighting the Establishment ”(Manzarek 57, 58). Then there was the moon landing in 1969 which provided humanity with a ray of hope. The lyrics “spring has come” make note that the time for rebirth, new beginnings, growth, and opportunities has come.
However the next line “it’s time to live in the scattered sun” reflected the turbulent times of the era. The scattered sun is an obscured/ indirect sun which symbolized despair, misery, sadness, and darkness. In essence, the scattered sun was what had gone wrong. But how could this be when there was the sweet, ever-lasting sun of Los Angeles? As Ray Manzarek points out, California has paradisiacal qualities, “...California! Mythic land of surf, palm trees...hot rods, and freedom” (Manzarek 55). When thinking about Los Angeles, one thinks of the palm tress, the beach, the fun, the good times, and the bright sun. However, the Doors were stating that it was time to face the harsh reality. Time to face the fact that people were living in infernal conditions (despair, suffering, death, violence) in a place that should be a paradise (LA).
Furthermore, the repetition of “waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting” in stanza...