In The Doors version of 'Back Door Man," Morrison sings: "You can eat your dinner, eat your pork and beans. I eat more chicken any man ever seen, yeah yeah! I am, a back door man."
Years after first hearing that song, I discovered that the original version by Willie Dixon is a well-written tale of a man who is sneaking around town having sex with all the women when their men are not at home.
Somehow my convoluted teenage brain equated eating chicken with being more like Jim and the Southern blues legends he emulated. Fried chicken became my comfort food.
A steaming plate of it. Crisp golden brown hot on your teeth as you plunge in to it. The juicy white flesh crunching up with the fried skin is your reward for being a human at the top of the food chain.
Many years ago while performing in Nashville my local friend Charles took me to Prince's Hot Chicken Shack. The experience was so memorable, so reminiscent of my childhood obsession, that I have been driving out of my way to get back there ever since.
Prince's sits at 123 Ewing drive on the sweaty side of town, where the hard work gets done, where transmissions are being repaired and tires exchanged. The shopping plaza where it is located looks like a gangland gun fight could break out at any minute, but it is worth the risk if you crave insanely spicy food.
You can order your chicken medium, hot or extra hot. I love spicy food but I have never been able to go higher than medium hot while eating there.
At the first bite, your eyes water and a waterfall of burning goodness goes down your body.
After the second bite your scalp tingles and sweat wets your hair.
Several more bites and you are wiping sweat from your forehead while breathing heavily and the thought that you might have a heart attack crosses your mind. Fortunately, an erotic tingle of warmth goes rushing across your skin, paradoxically cooling you off.
After that, slices of white bread and pickles help cool down your senses. It is precisely this teetering threshold between pain and pleasure that makes it so delicious and crave worthy.
The story of Prince's Hot Chicken is legendary: Thornton Prince, the Great Uncle of the current owner was cheating on his wife and to get back at him she stuffed his fried chicken with cayenne pepper. Instead of him jumping up from the table in pain, he loved it and a family empire was built from revenge.
Womanizers are rarely rewarded for their actions, but Thornton Prince got both a little side action and a formula that made him moan out loud. Not bad.
The line at the restaurant he created can be long, but once that hot white chicken meat hits my teeth and the cayenne explosion sets off your senses, releasing a fireworks display of endorphins, you'll be reminded that mankind isn't so bad. We build something savory from sin and share our nirvanas.
My advice is to go early in the afternoon and always ask for extra napkins. You may end up temporarily blinded if you don't. I also advise that you don't make cracks about cheating on your wife and starting a restaurant. My wife attacked me with hot grease.