Monday, July 2, 2007

No. 42: The Doors

Band: The Doors
Album: The Doors
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Ask any 13-15 year old boy. As the early teenage male's favorite band (maybe second-favorite, after Zep), the Doors basically invented the stoner religion/hard rock thing. Jim Morrison did over dramatic lyrics better than anyone and his "Lizard King" shtick still holds a lot of attraction for young men everywhere. Moreover, the jazzy organ in lieu of a bass player is something that hasn't been topped since.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: It is so overly dramatic, it's hard to listen to. Moreover, it's simply stoner religion; All "She gets high" and "girl we couldn't get much higher."
Best song: The cover of Kurt Weil's "Alabama Song" is a polka, which is very awesome. "Break On Through" and "Light My Fire" are both uber-popular, but both have excellent grooves.
Worst song: "Take It As it Comes" is pretty bad.
Is it awesome?: It's as close to awesome as the Doors get. I'm undecided as to the actual awesomeness of this record.

Before this week, I hadn't listened to this record in, honestly, five-seven years. I've been so anti-Doors for so long that I have mostly shunned their music.

Part of this is because I was way into the Doors during my early teenage years. I had "The Best of the Doors" and listened to it nearly daily. For the same reason Jim Morrison had scores of fans in the '60s. He sounds smarter than he is (his Oepidal "The End" isn't all that brilliant) and his brooding makes him seem more deep in thought.

So, it's easy to get hung up on Morrison's idiotic ramblings that mean -- basically -- nothing. Think of "The End." It's wonderful in "Apocalypse Now," and the slow build of Robby Krieger's guitar work is exquisite.

But, the lyrics just aren't anything fantastic. The love songs are the same. "Soul Kitchen," for example, is a ridiculous metaphor ("sleep all night in your soul kitchen?" Really?) built around a cool groove.

And, really, what the hell is "the other side?" Why are we breaking on through to it?

At least "Light My Fire" makes some sense as a love song.


The key thing about the Doors records is that the organ/guitar combo is pretty great. The jazzy feel to it really moves more than a lot of music of the time. While the Beatles were doing "Sgt. Pepper" (yes, that's my point of reference of all things 1967), the Doors were doing this blues-based thing. "Back Door Man," a Willie Dixon cover, is the evidence of this. They took an old blues record and sharpened it up. The results are pretty incredible.

"Light My Fire" is a softer version of that. Built around an organ riff, the song goes verse-chorus-verse for seven minutes, with a minute and a half guitar/organ solo.


Again, it's easy to dismiss the Doors because of Morrison's nonsense. As an instrument, his voice is pretty good. But, as a lyricist, nonsense. But, dismiss it if you will, the musicianship is pretty great. So, if you don't listen to the lyrics, you'll enjoy it.

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