Named the worst band in American music history, the Doors contribution to rock music can still be felt thirty-five years after the death of Jim Morrison, its lead singer. Morrison, along with Ray Manzarek, a fellow UCLA film school student, joined Robby Krieger and John Densmore to form one of the most outrageous rock bands of all time.
The Door’s music and antics onstage didn’t please everyone, however. Ed Sullivan refused to shake the band’s hands or invite them back to his show, after they refused to censor lyrics referring to drug usage in their hit song “Light My Fire”. Morrison was arrested in New Haven, Connecticut for foul language aimed at the city’s police officers.
In 1971, Morrison fell two stories after binge drinking. Three weeks later, he was found dead in the bathtub of his apartment from an apparent heart attack, though no autopsy was ever performed.
#1: MOONLIGHT DRIVE. I love this song, and listeners will, also, though I question the imagery in this song. Two line’s in the lyrics “Let’s swim to the moon/Let’s climb through” – among many, many others – make me wonder how many drugs this group used when writing these senseless lyrics. Yet, in the glory days of “sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll”, who really knows?
#2: RIDERS ON THE STORM. A classic, though the lyrics make little sense. Yeah, I know that sounds like a contradiction. But, sometimes, music is to be enjoyed – whether it makes sense or not. (For example, consider the lyrics of The B-52s. Fun, but usually meaningless songs.) “Riders of the Storm” is a slice of rock-and-roll history, as it reflects the drug-induced rhetoric of days gone by. Where else would you find such a gem as “There’s a killer on the road/His brain is squirmin’ like a toad”?
#3: LOVE HER MADLY. I love this fast-paced song about love gone wrong, even if the lyrics could have been written by a fourth-grader with crayons! It’s a sing-song full of happiness, even “As she’s walking out the door/Like she did one thousand times before”. Who would be happy about losing his love? Unless, of course, you were so strung-out on drugs you didn’t care? In spite of its many faults, it’s still a great song for those long road trips.
#4: L.A. WOMAN. This is the most coherent song by The Doors. Ever. Even the most straight-laced, sober person on the planet can understand the imagery! Morrison and company paint an image of their town in rich, living color. We, the audience, see the beauty of the city as well as the blemishes. If only the rest of their songs could be so coherent!
#5: ROADHOUSE BLUES. One of the most popular “guy songs” during my college era, “Roadhouse Blues” offers all the young dudes this important line-twice: “Well, I woke up this morning, I got myself a beer/ Well, I woke up this morning, and I got myself a beer”. What red-blooded American male could ask for anything more? Nowadays, the thought of cracking open a six-pack in the wee hours of the morning – or for breakfast – makes me nauseous.
#6: SHIP OF FOOLS. In “Ship of Fools”, The Doors paint a dismal picture of the not-so-distant future. In it, people are “dyin’ out”, leaving no one to “scream and shout”. Though an enjoyable, dark song, it’s dated by a reference to “people walking on the moon”. Sure, the “Ship” is Planet Earth and we are the “Fools”, destroying our lives by killing environment. However, my question for the late Jim Morrison would be” “If we’re the fools, why do you think they call it dope”?
#7: WAITING FOR THE SUN. No major comments here, just a mindless tune that’s easy on the ears:
Can you feel it
Now that Spring has come
That it’s time to live in the scattered sun
I wish I knew what a “scattered sun” was, however.
#8: LOVE ME TWO TIMES. One of my all-time favorite Doors’ tunes. Crank it up in your car with the one you love or sing it – alone – with the windows rolled up. A great, mindless song about a wonderful sexual experience. “Love me one time/ I could not speak/ Love me one time/ Yeah, my knees got weak”. Hey, wait a moment! “My knees got weak”? Would a guy actually say that? Who cares! The song rocks, even if it is older than dirt!
#9: PEOPLE ARE STRANGE. A somewhat depressing, yet listenable song about loneliness, paranoia, or both. A haunting, yet beautiful melody, I often wonder what state of mind Morrison was in when singing this song. He almost sound like he was under the influence of hallucinogenic – perhaps to capture the “reality” of this sorrowful tune. We could all ask Jim, but it’s too late.
People are strange when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone
Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted
Streets are uneven when you’re down
#10: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX. I often wonder who was the true, stone-cold “fox” behind this song. No matter, this forgotten gem makes men everywhere recall the cool, constantly aware “fox” who wouldn’t give them the time of day. You know the type: The woman you always dreamed of – and those were some pretty wild dreams, weren’t they – but never got to know personally, at least in the Biblical sense. Who cares? Though slightly outdated, it’s still a great song.
Well, she’s fashionably lean
And she’s fashionably late
She’ll never rank a scene
She’ll never break a date
But she’s no drag
Just watch the way she walks