“Set the Night on Fire” by Tom Poole. Located on Cravens 4th floor.
Written and recorded in 1966, The Doors’ classic “Light My Fire” is both eternal and a singular moment in time, a whirling, seemingly incongruous vortex of Bach, Coltrane, William Blake, psychedelia, Latin music, and the Lizard King. On paper, it shouldn’t have worked. But on July 29th 1967 it exploded onto the Billboard charts, landing at #1 and staying there for three weeks. The vortex struck a nerve.
The Doors self-titled debut album from 1967 features the full length version of “Light My Fire” at track 6.
And 50 years later, it still does.
The time to hesitate is through; no time to wallow in the mire. Try now.
Jim Morrison sang those words in the bright and tumultuous 1960s, but they could have been written this morning.
–Michael Franklin, Aug. 1 2017
If you want to hear The Doors (and you do), come see us at the Visual And Performing Arts Library (VPAL) on the 2nd floor of Cravens.
George Messer’s letter
When we last saw Civil War soldier George Messer in May 1863, the Illinois volunteer was at Camp Hobson (formerly Camp Joe Kelly) near Glasgow, Kentucky. He was grumbling about “dog tents,” two-man canvas shelters no better suited for canines than humans. Man’s best friend also gets a mention in another of Messer’s letters, recently added to the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.
Writing two months earlier to his wife Lottie, Messer had been somewhat more content. Despite the cold temperatures of early spring, he was feeling well, had put on weight, and was hopeful that the war would end soon. He described the dramatic changes made to the local countryside by Union troops seeking to protect their position from surprise attack. “Timber around our camp it is to be cut off clean for five hundred yards all around,” he explained, “and five hundred more to be cut down and left lay.” So thick was the coverage of trees and brush “that when it is cut down you could not shove a dog through it backwards.”
His comrades on picket duty reminded Messer of “cows on a stormy wet day,” when they would “put their backs to the storm and turn up one side of their heads to try and shun as much of it as possible.” Nevertheless, the sentries had some fun with a lieutenant who had returned from town without his military pass, resulting in his brief incarceration in the guard house. Messer noted with satisfaction that such “Shoulder Strap gentlemen” were granted no easier passage than a private when they ventured outside of camp. In his “dog tent” letter, he had also expressed little affection for these epaulette-bedecked officers and their habit of grabbing credit for “great exploits” that were in fact the work of the common soldier.
Click on the links to access finding aids and typescripts of George Messer’s letters. Click here to browse our Civil War collections, or search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.