“I don’t know what they’re doing but they laugh a lot”. As a kid I had no great knowledge of speakeasies and after-hours clubs, so I projected a different – perhaps more glamorous – meaning onto the song, drawn from a childhood reading Tolkein, Nesbit and endless books of fairytales. The Green Door, quite clearly set into a hillside, or visible only on Beltane Eve, or found on an old street not marked on any map, led into the Otherworld, and the mocking laughter was obviously that of elves or boggarts. With this reading firm in my mind I could sympathise greatly with Shakey’s frustration – though I thought he was probably too old for this kind of adventure.
Some of the magic I projected into the record has clung to it, and it’s now my favourite of Shakin Steven’s big hits, which isn’t saying a great deal. As with “This Ole House”, “Green Door” is straight-down-the-middle rock’n’roll handled more with fondness than wildness. It’s a good song; it deserved revival; Shakey does no great harm to it. I don’t know the original versions: perhaps it was a record sung by and for people who were in on the joke, regulars on an illicit scene – a 50s equivalent of Kicks Like A Mule’s “The Bouncer”. But somehow you know Shakey’s singing it from a square’s point of view – as surely as if it had led to Elfland, he’s never getting in that door.