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Dissected: The Doors

on January 25, 2012, 12:30pm
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the doors Dissected: The Doors

Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers.

In his 2006 review of The Doors: Perception box set, Pitchfork’s Stuart Berman wrote, “The Doors aren’t so much a band as a phase you go through, rarely to be visited again, like so much of the high-school-notebook poetry that Jim Morrison’s lyrics inspired.” While plenty of critics agree with him (including writers on our staff), most will contend that’s quite an overstated opinion. Or, maybe not.

Truth be told, The Doors have always been a polarizing band, and their success to destruction ratio was about 1:3. They burned bridges at Los Angeles’s Whiskey a Go Go, thanks to their 12-minute Oedipal epic, “The End”; they were banned from The Ed Sullivan Show; they pissed off The Kinks with “Hello, I Love You”; they lost the critics with 1969’s The Soft Parade; they ran into a gamut of legal problems, including Morrison’s notorious Miami arrest in 1969; and, to top it off, they were sensationalized in a biopic from Oliver Stone.

That last part isn’t their fault – especially since the band’s surviving members have all since written it off – but it’s still left quite an indentation on the Los Angeles quartet. Morrison, the late poet and frontman, is forever immortalized as a reckless, abusive alcoholic who stumbled around the west in leather pants, muttering inconsistencies about love, death, and… Indians. Who knows how much of that is true, and does it really matter? It’s a part of his legend. Besides, there are countless anecdotes in Danny Sugerman and Jerry Hopkins’ essential Morrison biography, No One Here Gets Out Alive, that support half of the stories portrayed in Stone’s film; in fact, they expand on them in some cases.

Still, Berman’s assessment burns. If the music’s sophomoric and Morrison’s remembered as “a drunken buffoon,” to borrow from Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Creem Magazine‘s Lester Bangs via Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, then what’s left to mine here? Well, how about their influence? Iggy Pop loved them, so did Ian Curtis, and you could maybe add Jarvis Cocker to that list, but that might be a stretch. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Morrison’s impact, which Berman addresses in that very same review, and there’s no denying that reckless power they trademarked. However, isn’t reckless the sort of thing a high school student strives for? Perhaps there is truth to Berman’s claim.

Whatever the case, in light of their 40th anniversary and the recent reissue of L.A. Woman, the group’s last album with Morrison, we found a reason to revisit the group. This time, we decided to focus a little harder, because if there’s anything we learned from Kids in the Hall, it’s that “…if you want to be a Doors fan, you can’t just buy any album. It’s scientific.”

-Michael Roffman

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January 27, 2012 at 11:20 am

So your little feelings got hurt because what you said was a half truth, and all I did was fill in the information. It was not a personal attack, and believe it or not your are allowed to be wrong, and your little world will still go on and on and on…..

January 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm

You should have went into detail about how the surviving members of the Doors SUCK! They made a forgivable mistake by trying to replace Jim with the butt rock kings of the nu metal era (its okay we all had a “dirt stage”). What is not forgivable is this Skrillex bullshit. Cool band, cool legacy. Jim Morrison is real mad.

Brandt Hardin
January 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Jim influenced
my art my entire life with his macabre and surreal lyrics and poetry.  You
can see my portrait of the Lizard King I created in memoriam recently on the
40th anniversary of his death.  It’s on my artist’s blog at

January 25, 2012 at 9:01 pm

The Doors were about personal power, not phony stuff that’s all over the place today. They were real, talented and smart.

January 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Those moments when Morrison channeled his inner turmoil into something special (Self-Titled, Strange Days, parts of Waiting For The Sun and Morrison Hotel, and LA Woman), its power and energy was simply unrestrainable and contagious

January 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm

 I want you to get in [a stolen car] and drive West. Play the tape full blast. When the tape ends, get out and get into a fight.

January 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm

The Doors were one of the best bands to come out of the 1960s, and if they could go on tour today, you know you would go see them two times babe. Sure, they are the poster children for high school rebellion, but sometimes we all need some of that later in life. We need to remember that there was a time when money didn’t matter, and the world was idealist and open to anything and anyone. A great band for all the right reasons.

January 25, 2012 at 11:22 pm

The Doors do still tour and to not much critical acclaim. 

January 26, 2012 at 7:18 am

They tour without Densmore and Morrison, that is hardly The Doors; it is a phony replica of a great band. The outfit they put on tour should not be getting any critical acclaim, and anyone who goes and ses taht has not experienced the band at all. Ian Asbury (The Cult) takes on Morrison’s role, and some drummer fills in; NOT The Doors.


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