1.31.2017

The Doors


"Ladies and gentlemen... 
from Los Angeles, California..." 


Every few years I go on a Doors kick. This started way back when Oliver Stone's Doors movie came out (1991). That was my junior year in high school, which is a great time for a guy to discover the Doors. Around the same time John Densmore published Riders on the Storm. I haven't read it in many years, but it along with Stone's movie definitely determined how I approached the band and what I got out of them at the time.

He put out another one a couple of years ago about his courtroom battle with the other surviving members of the band (Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek.)
I haven't read it, nor any of Ray's books.

The Doors were my favorite band (and The Doors my favorite movie) from when I first experienced all the above through the end of high school. Only a few years of my life but these are years measured in adolescent time: it felt like a coup and a subsequent Reign of (wonderful) Terror. Everyone has their entrypoint into the counter-culture, even if it's just awareness of it and not full immersion; mine was the Doors. It eventually morphed into beatniks and the Beatles and all points beyond. A familiar enough musical coming-of-age, at least once upon a time.

You sure don't need little old me to give you the skinny on the band. Suffice it to say, it was the boozy-acid-Byronic-recklesness of Jim Morrison against the easily accessible and always reliable power trio (occasionally augmented by various bass players) of Ray Manzarek (keys and hippie heart of the band), Robbie Krieger (guitars), and John Densmore (drums) that made and make them such an American institution.  

Whenever I revisit the band, it's the latter that leaves the best impression. I think the Doors were really an underrated musical enterprise. But, understandably, it's the drugged-up apocalyptic drunk free association crooning from Jim that characterizes most of the band's reputation. That side of it is always fun to revisit without taking very seriously, or at least only as seriously as you take your own adolescent pretensions. Maybe people go after Morrison too much. Morrison is to the Doors what Shatner is to TOS in a lot of ways (minus the post-60s stuff). I wouldn't change a thing.

Musically, I mean. Not like I'd force the man to OD in a bathtub to "keep it real."


Who cares, anyway? It's part of the appeal.

Back to the movie. If you ever rode in my car 1990-1992, you'd have found one cassette that never left rotation: The Doors soundtrack, which had among other things, "O Fortuna!" Ten years later, it was in everything from Doritos commercials to movie trailers (especially movie trailers), but back then, I was the only guy in town who had it, and cranking it as I pulled into any parking lot announced me as a singular and fascinating fellow. At least in the adolescent fever of my imagining.

Anyway! Like I say every few years I find myself revisiting the band, and before I knew it this time around, I had a spreadsheet devoted to the listen-through and here we all are. #TheBloggingLife. I decided to forego the unreleased tracks (of which "Orange County Suite" seems to have the best reputation; I'm on the fence myself) or live albums, such as -


and a few others that were all very much a part of my Doors high school experience (on account of having them on the compilation double cassette In Concert. Another one that got a lot of airtime in the ol' McMaxima) but I don't want this to run too long. Instead, though, let me just bullet point a couple quick things:

- "Gloria." Is there a better version? Nice shrieking.
- "Universal Mind." Love this tune. I always thought it was a cover, but I guess Jim wrote it with Robbie. Traditional blues married to acid-Zen lyrics and well-sung by Jim.
- "Dead Cats, Dead Rats." I absolutely love this dirty, psychedelic stream-of-anti-establishment-consciousness version of "Break On Through." Also, how underrated is John Densmore? The Doors musicians are each unsung in their own ways, but Densmore especially.


Also "Who Do You Love?" George Thorogood's version of this Bo Diddley classic gets all the beers and hot wings commercials, but this is the best of the covers.

I also decided to skip any of the various solo stuff. Despite very much wanting to tell you all about "Solar Boat" because wow. Wow. Why the hell couldn't Manzarek get Shatner to do that one? Did it even come up? Surely that idea would have occurred to someone, right?  Anyway, the Doors were very much a group effort (as we'll see right off the bat, below), but to any who think Jim was the only way-out-there one, take a little ride, there, on Ray's solar boat.

And onward! 

9. and 8.
Other Voices (1971)
Full Circle (1972)


After Jim's death the band carried on as a trio (with Ray and Robbie splitting the vocals) with these two albums, which were 100% unavailable in my first phase of Doors fandom. I finally got to hear them a couple of years back. They're a mixed bag. On one hand, there are a lot of great jams on here, and these are three guys who play really well together. "Get Up and Dance" has a Billy Preston feel to it, while "Ships with Sails" could probably fit on a Santana album somewhere. 

But curiosity and jam factor aside, they're the least of the official Doors releases. "Verdilac" is probably the best of them - a solid composition with plenty of memorable soloing. "In the Eye of the Sun" has a cool groove to it. Ray sounds a little like Mick Jagger on the tracks he sings, which works out okay; Robbie, however, sounds like Dylan, which does not. His compositions in general are my least favorite tracks.

With one exception (although it's credited to all three members): "No Me Moleste Mosquito." According to Robbie, this was the post-Morrison band's biggest single on account of sales in Spanish-speaking countries. The vocals are a little on the silly side, but it's a fun and very era-specific number for me.  

7.
 
An American Prayer (1978)

I never really considered this one an official Doors release, but it's include on the band's official discography so here it is. If you took the best songs of Full Circle and Other Voices and made it one album (Full Voices? Other Circle?), I'd prefer it to this one. But American Prayer is undoubtedly an interesting mix of spoken word (Jim's birthday present to himself, according to Ray - his last birthday on Planet Earth, as it turned out; full story here) and musical landscaping.

Jim meant to do a lot more work with this album, and Paul Rothchild famously called this a "rape" of Morrison's legacy. I'm sure had Morrison lived - and sobered up enough to realize his original vision of things - it would have sounded a bit different, but I feel Rothchild's statement is ridiculous. It is a bit of an oblique and unfinished mess, but as a curiosity/ accompaniment to the main catalog, it is not without its charms. 

The best of the tunes (such as they are) are the ones Stone picked for the Doors soundtrack:
"Ghost Song" and "The Severed Garden (Adagio)," both of which cast a hazy spell on my 17-year-old mind.
It wasn't until 10 years later that I realized that the "Adagio" melody was written by Albinoni and was a rather famous piece of music.


6.
The Soft Parade (1969)

According to Densmore, by the Doors got to The Soft Parade, they were composing in the studio, and Rothchild (the producer for the first 5 Doors albums) wanted to make the band's 4th album a huge epic statement to rival the other big statements of the era (Sgt. Pepper's, Pet Sounds, etc.) with orchestration and multi-tracking galore. All of that meant a lot of studio time searching for the right sound - which meant Jim had a lot of time / fifths of Jack Daniels to kill before he got to record his vocal.

Alas, it shows. It's like there is an audible commentary track of drunken mumbling / free association throughout the whole proceedings, most notably on the title track and on the album's other standout song "Wild Child." (Great riff, not a bad track overall. That "Do you remember when we were in Africa?" bit at the end always makes me laugh. So out of drunken left field.)  

A fairly forgettable collection of tunes. Were it not for "Shaman's Blues" - possibly my all-time favorite Doors track - this would probably be my least favorite Doors album. But I love "Shaman's Blues" enough for it to have skewed my spreadsheet results; that track is just Doors-perfection. It happens. Starting with our next selection, though, we're into most-songs-are-4-out-of-5-stars territory.

5.
The Doors (1967)

The band's debut features three of their biggest tunes: "Break On Through," "Light My Fire," and "The End," each an indelible contribution both to the 60s musical landscape and to Americana in general."The End" is the big "experience" song to end the album, a pattern the band would follow on subsequent releases.

Back in the day, my favorite tracks were the aforementioned. Nowadays, I think it's "Soul Kitchen." Or maybe "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)". They're all fun, though. "Crystal Ship" and "End of the Line" have their place in Doors mythos. "I Looked at You" is probably safely described as filler, but I've always liked it. It (and maybe "Twentieth Century Fox") are probably the closest the Doors ever get to the Archies.

"Back Door Man" is dumb. I didn't mind it so much in high school, but it makes me cringe now. It's an old blues song written by Willie Dixon about a guy who bangs farm housewives, sneaking in through the "back door" and "eating their chicken." Lovely. Cool riff and all, but Jim's vocal annoys me. Back to the drugs and the hippie apocalypse, please.


4.
Waiting for the Sun (1968)

"Hello I Love You" is probably the best known track here. It's not a personal fave, but it's okay enough. My favorites in no particular order:

"Love Street" - Love the vibe of this one. These lyrics, though - Jim's free associations in the middle are so perfect wtf-Morrison: "I hear she lives on looooove street / there's a store where the creatures meet, I / wonder what they dooooo in there? Summer Sunday / and a year / (almost an aside) I guess I like it fine so far..." Man! Doesn't ruin anything for me, just cracks me up. I remember singing along and taking care to get my voice to crack precisely like Jim's in the right spots while singing along.

"Not To Touch The Earth" - "Celebration of the Lizard", the larger performance piece from which this is drawn, was the coolest thing in the world to me when I was 17, though it's a bit much for me now. This little excerpt still rocks the house, though. Ominous and powerful. The closest The Doors get to Dio, maybe. ("Some outlaws live by the side of the lake! The minister's daughter's in love with a snake!") Great stuff. And segues so well into:

"Summer's Almost Gone" - I listened to the bigger Doors songs so much that eventually I had to make a separate mix tape of the lesser-known ones to satisfy my Doors cravings. That mix is where I first grew to appreciate this one. As well as

"Wintertime Love" - Both are mournful tunes, though completely different approaches. Great music behind the lyrics.

and "Spanish Caravan" - Awesome.

3.
Strange Days (1967)

"The hostess is grinning / her guests sleep from sinning."

The band's second effort is my third favorite. What a great title track - just the perfect mix of spooky ambience and 60s-west-coast-cool. Starts things off on the right note, and "You're Lost Little Girl" furthers the mood. And "When the Music's Over" is easily the best of the Doors apocalypse-vibe songs. I like this sort of thing a little less nowadays then I used to, but some great guitars in this one. It's easy to see why this sort of thing appealed to GIs in Vietnam.

Y'all know the album's big single, "People Are Strange." Great track - prototypical Doors. My first introduction to that one came via Echo and the Bunnymen's cover version from The Lost Boys. The other single was "Love Me Two Times," another of Robbie's contributions, which is probably my least favorite track. I guess it was controversial at the time and it's often suggested the whole thing is some kind of oral sex metaphor. I know it didn't take much to get people's wires crossed back then, but that seems really vague and silly to me. You want an oral sex metaphor, you go hang out with the Salt Creature on Planet M-113 and then come talk to me, okay?

My favorite is "Moonlight Drive," which has the always-bizarre "Horse Latitudes" introduction. ("True Sailing is Dead!") Like "When the Music Over," those seeking to understand the appeal of Robbie's guitar stylings need look no further than here.

2.
LA Woman (1971)

"The Changeling" kicks things off with some straight-up bumper-blues and some great howling from Jim. Then comes "Love Her Madly" - another Kreiger "meh" from me but still a radio staple.

"Been Down So (Goddamn) Long" (parenthetical added) and "Cars Hiss By My Window" are a good indication of what kind of tracks Jim would have kept recording had he been able to pull out of his chemical nosedive. According to each of the other Doors, all Jim wanted to sing the last few years of his life was blues stuff like these. As far as their representation on LA Woman, though, I've got to give the nod to "Texas Radio and the Big Beat" (another one of those Shatner-Morrison * shout-outs) and "Hyacinth House," a tragic self-assessment from the Lizard King in his days of decline. 

* Seriously, picture the random firings, here, of Morrison's booze-adled synapses to be his own Captain's Logs, sent back to Starfleet from the edge of reality. ("This is the land where the Pharaoh died!") 

"L'America" is fun and a great opener for Side B. (I will always tip my cap to a band that appreciates the art of album-side-order.) "Crawling King Snake" is okay. But the title track remains one of the coolest things ever recorded. Both it and the album's best known single ("Riders on the Storm") are well-known enough where I'll spare you the links. But has the coolness of either diminished over time? If anything, they've only gotten cooler. The Doors created many timeless classics still in heavy rotation on the radio, but perhaps "LA Woman" and "Riders on the Storm" will outlast them all.

Now for my personal favorite, which is pretty much interchangeable with LA Woman for me: 

1.
Morrison Hotel (1970)

"The most horrifying rock and roll I have ever heard. When they're good, they're simply unbeatable (...) Good, hard, evil rock." - Dave Marsh, Cream Magazine.

Morrison's reputation as a poet, to say the least, hasn't survived the 60s too well. Understandable to a point, but is there any denying the collective poetic expression of "Roadhouse Blues?" So simple and direct, both musically and lyrically. You can't really improve on something like this; it distills a certain blunt reality to its essence, even the chak-a-choo-chah drunkscat stuff. (God bless it). When it comes to ultimate statements of being alive, few pack as much truth, terror, and ecstasy into the same punch:

"THE FUTURE'S UNCERTAIN AND THE END IS ALWAYS NEAR...
LET IT ROLL, BABY, ROLL!"

Amen, fellas. Incidentally, the line is "I woke up this morning and got myself a beard," not a beer. Morrison woke up from a 4-day drunk and realized he'd grown a beard, hence the line. The same thing happened once to my dearly departed friend Klum. Which is another way of saying when your drinking has got to the "How did this beard get here? Far out" level, it's probably time to settle the tab for good.

Anyway! Morrison Hotel - the band's back-to-basics record after the bloat of The Soft Parade - is start-to-finish awesome. After "Roadhouse Blues" comes "Waiting for the Sun," one of two tracks (the other being "Indian Summer") recorded for earlier albums but only finding a home here. Then one of the band's saloon-y tunes, "You Make Me Real," which showcases the tight interplay between the foursome when they were on their game. What a cool track.

Speaking of, (outside of "LA Woman" maybe) they don't come cooler than "Peace Frog." That link features the glorious segue from "Peace Frog" into "Blue Sunday," which is probably my favorite song-to-song transition of any two songs on any album anywhere. 


"Ship of Fools" and "Land Ho!" - end of side 1 and beginning of side 2 - are two of my favorite unsung Doors tracks. Some apocalyptic despair in the former, but both are jaunty tunes that seem optimistic despite themselves.  

The album's other tracks ("The Spy" and "Queen of the Highway") are perfectly agreeable, but man do I love the closer, "Maggie M'Gill." Just such a perfect marriage of rhythm, lyric, and riff. All the more remarkable because I get the impression they just kind of tossed it off in the studio. Stephen Davis referred to it in his Doors book as "Morrison bloviating with drunk-sounding bluster." He says that like it's a bad thing!

~

24 comments:

  1. I'd flip flop LA Woman and Morrison Hotel, but we think rather alike. My favorite Doors studio songs certainly include lesser-known songs like The Changeling, Soul Kitchen, You're Lost Little Girl, and Not To Touch the Earth. I haven't listened to it in a while, but I like the song Soft Parade, but not the album so much. The rest of the album sort of ties for my least favorite Doors song. I certainly wish I still had American Prayer, Other Voices, and the other original albums on vinyl (thanks Jay). Good post.

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  2. In reading the introduction to this post, I found myself trying to remember how I became a Doors fan. And I can't come up with it! I've got a few random memories, though:

    (1) I can remember being in the car with aunt and listening to the radio, and "Riders on the Storm" came on. I'd never heard anything like it. I asked her what it was, and why it was so weird, and she said, "Well, some people like music like this." I don't think I knew it then, but I was one of those people. This is the same aunt who used to take me along when she'd go to thrift stores looking for treasures; she was an immense aid to my burgeoning book mania. She also helped along my musical development, because she listened to rock stations -- which my parents didn't -- any time I was with her. I don't think she even liked rock; I think she thought I'd like it, and she was right. How cool is that?

    (2) "The Lost Boys" -- that movie made a big impact on me, because it felt dangerous in some way. This is ridiculous, looking back on it. Nevertheless, it's true. And not only is there that enormous mural of Jim on the wall, but there's a cover version of "People Are Strange."

    (3) I did not see "The Doors" when it came out, but I was aware of it, and I know this is about the time I began buying their CDs. So I wonder if maybe MTV was playing a lot of their stuff, or maybe radio stations? I think it's very likely. Whatever the case, late high school and early college, I listened to them incessantly (though by no means exclusively). This is also the time I got into The Beatles, now that I think of it! I cannot remember which came first, but I think it might actually have been The Doors.

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    1. (2) Lost Boys definitely laid the groundwork for me. Like everyone else in the summer of '87 and its subsequent life on VHS, I loved that movie and listened to its soundtrack all the time.

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    2. There was word a while back of the movie being rebooted as a tv series by the guy who created "Veronica Mars." I will watch that series.

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    3. When I first read this I thought you meant The Doors and thought "Well now! That's kind of an interesting idea. That'll be a bummer of an ending, though."

      But ah-so, you meant The Lost Boys. I'll watch it, too. Kind of surprising no one's thought of it before now, to be honest.

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    4. Just noticed you'd already covered "The Lost Boys" in the post -- that's what I get for not reading the sections on each album until now!

      I'm not sure I knew that cover was by Echo & The Bunnymen. I probably did and had forgotten it. The sax guy from that movie has driven much from my mind.

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  3. A few random thoughts:

    (1) In reading that Rolling Stone piece, I instinctively take side of Densmore and the Morrison estate. I'm easily led, though, so take that for what it's worth. I'd love to read "Riders on the Storm." Many is the time I've considered buying it -- pretty much any time I go on a Doors kick.

    (2) "Everyone has their entrypoint into the counter-culture, even if it's just awareness of it and not full immersion; mine was the Doors." -- I was very intrigued by this thought, because I recognized it as a thing that was unquestionably true during my/our era. But do you suppose it still holds true? I'm not even sure what "counterculture" means in 2017, but I sure do hope there are still kids out there discovering The Doors and The Beatles and Pink Floyd and Dylan and whoever and having their minds blown. Or maybe later bands have replaced them by now. I hope not.

    (3) That article about the bass players is fascinating.

    (4) "I think the Doors were really an underrated musical enterprise." -- Which, frankly, is amazing. You'd think that everyone would know/acknowledge that just on the basis of "Light My Fire." This is what makes me a bit sympathetic toward Krieger and Manzarek, I guess (even though I'm still on Densmore's side): in most situations, their careers and legacies would have been able to flourish even in the absence of a lead singer. But Morrison cast SUCH a long shadow that they don't seem to have been able to properly step out from it, and I can't blame them for wanting to at least profit from the shadow if they're going to be stuck within it.

    (5) "Morrison is to the Doors what Shatner is to TOS in a lot of ways (minus the post-60s stuff). I wouldn't change a thing." -- Heh, yeah, that makes sense to me. Ugh, that makes me wonder what might have happened to Trek had Shatner died in a bathtub in the seventies. Everyone trumpets Nimoy -- rightly so -- but I'm not sure Nimoy works if Shatner isn't there to provide context for what Nimoy is doing. And maybe vice versa; but then again, maybe not. Anyways, yes, absolutely: why wouldn't anyone want Morrison to be less Morrisony? Might as well as for a cheeseburger without the meat.

    (6) I can't remember why "O Fortuna" is in that movie, but that's one of the most kickass pieces of music ever composed.

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    1. (2) I'd like to think there's a sort of "traditional" counterculture that extends from Man Ray and Brecht through the Beats through the Doors and Robert Crumb and even into the Buzzcocks annd the Smiths/80s-alternative. There's a common philosophy tying these movements and separate artists together, there, just by producing stuff out of the mainstream. (Although, paradoxically, many of these groups/ artists - most especially the Doors - were very popular.)

      I could be being too broad or linking things together that don't quite fit, but this is just my two cents - I'm happy to revise when I look at the proverbial spreadsheets.

      I think this sort of thing ended in the 90s when the formerly-alternative became so uniformly mainstream. That was the true death (or killing blow) of that counter-culture as it couldn't survive in the light without becoming something other than itself. An "official" counterculture, in other words.

      So, to answer your question, I think there's a sort of "Access file "counter-culture" that has a beginning, middle, and end and codified table of contents at this point. Everyone's entrypoint would be different, and I consider myself fortunate to have found such a "playbook" when it was still an actual alternative and not an "official" alternative.

      If that makes any sense!

      The Doors are unique because they acted as a sort of pied piper for the counter-culture but are such a staple of classic rock, etc. that you can pick up on all of it without officially "entering the dragon." Maybe that's what so singularly irritates the perpetual sophomores who feel the need to over-hate on the Doors. I think it's a mistake, myself.

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    2. I don't mind people hating on the band. It's a good way for them to identify themselves as somebody whose opinions on music I need not take seriously.

      You probably have a good point on the topic of the alternative becoming mainstream. Nowadays, I wonder if such a thing as "alternative" even truly exists. Pop culture is so fragmented that once you get beyond the relatively few things that manage to be successful among various different demographic ranges, everything else is sort of its own world. But -- and I'll grant you that I am mostly talking out of my ass here -- most of those "alternatives" seem less like alternatives and more like would-be mainstream that simply isn't hitting on a wide scale.

      That said, I'm sure a vibrant alternative scene MUST exist; I just don't know where to look for it. Nor, it must be admitted, any actual interest in doing so. but it'd be interesting to compare it to the various things that I still think of when the word "alternative" comes up in a conversation about culture.

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    3. Being of the age where alternative/ mainstream mean only historical things to me, I wouldn't have the first idea where to look for anything scene-related (that isn't corporate-visible in my timeline, etc.) but sure, I know there must be such a thing out there.

      The extent to which the old model got codified and mainstreamed and mass-production-ified, though, continues to blow my mind. I'm glad to have lived through it - I got to see the old model (the last days of it) and then how it was so mercilessly chopped up and Fruitopia'd back to me.

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    4. It's an interesting issue to ponder. There are (at least) two ways to look at it.

      On the one hand, maybe a scene like that exists as much as anything else out of an attempt to influence and redirect thinking. In this case, its assimilation by the mainstream might be at least partially a good thing, if some of those ideas and ideals got assimilated along with it. Imperfectly, no doubt; but maybe a little is better than none.

      Alternatively (ahem), if the scene exists as a repudiation and rejection of the mainstream and as an attempt to live outside of it, then its assimilation should be viewed as a bit darker of an occurrence. This would represent the mainstream vanquishing the alternative and parading its severed head around on a pike.

      It feels to me more the former than the latter, but it likely depends on one's perspective.

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    5. In my more optimistic moments, I tend towards the former; in less, the latter. I agree it's an interesting rock and roll discussion, one that has been ongoing for many decades, really, in different forms. Is it over for all time? Certainly not. I do think the model we grew up with is over, but I'm also wrong a huge amount of the time. But even if it is/was, I mean, we probably just move through phases and swing between pendulums on any topic, genre, or philosophy on a long enough timeline.

      This is the type of answer that can seem like trailing off into vague who-can-call-it land. It's my gift.

      Jim (Morrison) probably had the right idea re: the getting of kicks and the imminent combustibility of the shithouse. Perhaps not to the degree of application he championed, nor as crudely or rudely pursued, but in general, probably closer to the heart of the beast than trying to pinpoint something like the exact moment when (or evenif) Jane's Addiction became a metaphor for this process.

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  4. This post has inspired me to revisit the band's discography one album at a time, so I figure hey, why not leave my thoughts here as I go?

    "The Doors" --

    (1) "Break on Through to the Other Side": Those first few seconds rank right up there among the most exciting moments in rock for me. Still. In fact, when I listened to this album in my car this week, I'd kind of forgotten about The Doors. Not really; I just mean that while they were absolutely saved to the hard drive in my brain -- I could, from memory, probably give you every note of some of these songs if I knew how to transcribe music -- they had not been accessed in a while. So when the opening of this song hit, it kind of jolted me in a "Oh holy FUCK!" way, reminding me that not only was it a good song, not only was it a GREAT song, but it was and is an essential song.

    (2) "Soul Kitchen": Like many people, I initially came to this band via their big hits, and only got accustomed to their album cuts in piecemeal fashion. I think I had all their albums on CD by the time I was out of high school, so I knew it all by then, but in some ways, I never warmed up to a lot of their stuff. "Soul Kitchen" was one of those, but it's really grown on me over the years. Listening to it now, it sounds like an immaculate rock/funk fusion by a band who has no idea how to play funk but makes up for it with sheer gusto. Great stuff.

    (3) "The Crystal Ship": THIS one I loved from the first time I heard it. Such a weird song (although there are plenty weirder to come in their career).

    (4) "Twentieth Century Fox": I think you're right to call this filler, but if filler can be this good, then filler is okay by me. It's not a favorite, but I never mind hearing it.

    (5) "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)": This one has always been a favorite, possibly because I'm from Alabama, or possibly because the keyboards -- are those keyboards? -- sound like they are farting. I'm a simpleton like that.

    (6) "Light My Fire": Any radio station that plays the shortened version of this song should have their FCC license revoked. Not one single second of this masterpiece should ever be removed.

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    1. (7) "Back Door Man": You men eat your dinner; eat your pork and beans. I'll eat more chicken than any man ever seen. Genius. I have a much higher tolerance for this one than you do; in fact, I kinda love it.

      (8) "I Looked at You": More filler, for sure. I don't dislike it, but I'm always kind of glad for it to end.

      (9) "End of the Night": One of the things I really love about The Doors is how scary their songs are. Or maybe scary is the wrong word; creepy might be better. Ominous even better than that, perhaps. Whatever the perfect word, there's a quality there that -- and pardon my sojourn into blatant English-major territory here -- evokes the seedy underbelly of the late sixties. It's coming from the same place that Charles Manson and Family came from, the same place that Randall Flagg came from; etc. But in the hands of The Doors, it's an alluring quality; and that makes it even scarier. Anyways, another favorite song of mine.

      (10) "Take It As It Comes": Even their upbeat-pop-type songs have a sort of edge to them, don't they? Most of that comes from Morrison, whose advice to "take it easy, baby, take it as it comes" here sounds almost like a threat.

      (11) "The End": And then there's this song, which must surely be one of the most terrifying songs ever released by a major American record label. It's a thing like this that the phrase "tour de force" must have coined to represent. "The killer awoke before dawn / He put his boots on" is one of my all-time favorite couplets.

      The version of the album I've got also has a couple of demo versions of "Moonlight Drive" that are okay, plus "Indian Summer," which is pretty good. It sounds to my ears like a less psychopathic early version of "The End."

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    2. (6) Agreed. Those same stations probably cut off "The Fish" when they spin "Long Distance Runaround" by Yes and should similarly be banned. Why go to Yes when there's another Doors example at the ready - they probably just play "Peace Frog," too, without the beautifully-arranged and seamless segue into "Blue Sunday," the bastards!

      (9) I like that - yes, very much.

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  5. "Strange Days" --

    First off, that's one of my all-time favorite album covers. Thinking about it now makes me want to buy an LP, just so I have a properly-sized version. But that way lies madness.

    (1) "Strange Days": This sounds like it was beamed in from another world. Not a completely alien world, but like humans went off and lived on Io or something for a while, and then after we hadn't heard from 'em in a few decades, this is what they sent us. Strange days indeed.

    (2) "You're Lost Little Girl": Another important entry in the it-sounds-like-Jim-is-stalking-you subgenre. I'd imagine many a little girl has heard this and not minded in the slightest. Great song. I literally imagine Jim as the Big Bad Wolf when I hear it.

    (3) "Love Me Two Times": The Salt Vampire could do that and be two different people! Imagine the possibilities! Ehh... This is obviously a catchy hit-single type song, and I've got nothing against it, but it's no more a favorite of mine than it is of yours.

    (4) "Unhappy Girl": Clocking in under two minutes, this is a get-out-quick type of thing, but a good one.

    (5) "Horse Latitudes": Boy, shit got REAL on Io...

    (6) "Moonlight Drive": I heartily endorse this as a pick for favorite. I think mine is probably "You're Lost Little Girl," but this one would be a very close second.

    (7) "People Are Strange": Although, actually, it might be this, which is the national anthem on Io.

    (8) "My Eyes Have Seen You": I tend to think of this as one of those filler-type songs like "Twentieth Century Fox," but it's actually a good bit better than that. Jim in Big Bad Wolf territory again.

    (9) "I Can't See Your Face in My Mind": My least favorite song on the album, unless you count "Horse Latitudes," but maybe even then. Not that it's bad; it's okay.

    (10) "When the Music's Over": I'm hardly the first person in the world to get some amusement out of misunderstood song lyrics, but there's one here that always amuses me. When he says "Dance on fire as it intends," I always heard it as a command to "Dance on fires, eat in tents." Will do, Jim; will do. Regardless of my lyrical misinterpretations, this is an essential epic.

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    1. (3) I hadn't considered the mathematical variations of bringing in Nancy. That could really salvage this tune for me from the Doors catalog.

      10) Nice! That's really funny. And totally even possible with Jim's stream of consciousness craziness.

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  6. "Waiting for the Sun" --

    (1) "Hello, I Love You": Consummate pop, I guess, but it's never been a favorite for me either. Good song, though; not like it's hard to sit through or anything.

    (2) "Love Street": Reading your thoughts on this song made me think that in his heart, Jim Morrison is probably how William Shatner sees himself when he's recording. Maybe even when he's not. I dig this song. It's not really any deeper than the previous track, except somehow, it very much is. Why is that, do you suppose?

    (3) "Not to Touch the Earth": Now, here was a surprise. I never liked this song. It might have been my least favorite Doors song of them all back in the day. Imagine, then, my surprise when I listened to it with fresh ears this time around and flipped for it. This is an AWESOME song! I guess I just had to age up to it or something.

    (4) "Summer's Almost Gone": I like the idea of that "More Best of The Doors" mix you made. This song would be perfect for such a thing.

    (5) "Wintertime Love": I don't hear as much mournfulness in it as you do -- to me, it sounds like people enjoying where they are AND where they're going. Something about it being in waltz time, probably. Either way, they make those two minutes count.

    (6) "The Unknown Soldier": Here's another one that I'm suddenly a much bigger fan of. Not that I ever disliked this one; it's just that it strikes me now as being even better than I ever gave it credit for being.

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    1. (7) "Spanish Caravan": This one has always been high on my list of favorite Doors songs. That seems unlikely to change. The moment where Jim sings "Tradewinds from galleons..." is terrifying in some way I can't put my finger on.

      (8) "My Wild Love": (Speaking of terrifying...) I never knew what to make of this song, and still don't, but I dug it then and dig it now. If I'm ever tasked with torturing somebody for information, this and nudity (except for a mask and a knife) are going to be my chief weapons. They'll talk; oh how they'll talk.

      (9) "We Could Be So Good Together": Here's what happens when The Doors doing pop goes wrong.

      (10) "Yes, the River Knows": Not a favorite, but it's fine. Makes for a pretty good trilogy with "Summer's Almost Gone" and "Wintertime Love."

      (11) "Five to One": I like to holler along with this while I'm driving, and did so last night for the first time in years. Very satisfying. Is it my #1 Doors song? I don't know. It's in the running.

      The version of this album that I got so as to enable this project also had:

      "Albinoni's Adagio in G minor": Huh?!? Why? It's pretty great, though. Would this fit your definition of prog?

      There are also two different takes of "Not to Touch the Earth," neither of which are as good as the take used for the album, but both of which are good.

      "Celebration of the Lizard": I guess I'd heard the live version of this, but I'm not sure I realized that it was actually an extended version of "Not to Touch the Earth." (Or, more accurately, that that song was just an excerpt from "Celebration of the Lizard"). I probably just thought they'd rolled that song into this somehow when I heard the live version last, whenever that was.

      Anyways, I had no notion of any of this when I was driving around last night listening to this album. So when I heard this song, it was legit like hearing a vintage Doors song I'd never heard before. Which is the actual case, of course, but it's just so wicked cool to be surprised by such a thing. I hadn't listened to any of these albums in a long while, but I listened to them a LOT circa 1991-1993ish, to the point where I can still sing every word of some of the songs. (Well, "sing.")

      So for there to suddenly be MORE of that is pretty damn rad.

      Anyways, when I was listening to "Celebration of the Lizard" and it suddenly morphed into "Not to Touch the Earth" -- which had already gone from being a personal cellar-dweller to being something I'd found new love for -- I got pretty excited.

      In that manner, "Celebration of the Lizard" is probably a new entry in my personal pantheon of favorite Doors songs.

      I love it when something like that happens!

      And in this case, it's all due to Dog Star Omnibus. Many thanks!

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    2. We do what we can to further the various causes!

      That "Adagio" tune is proggish, to be sure. Needs some mellotron but otherwise good to go.

      I appreciate this notion of "My Wild Love" being a perfect hostile interrogation tool. That could really unravel some minds.

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  7. "The Soft Parade" --

    (1) "Tell All the People": This one has always been a personal favorite. It certainly announces right off the bat that this is a different sort of Doors album, and what you say about the producer intending the album to be a sort of Sgt. Pepper puts that into context for me that I never had. Still, I always dug this song, and still do.

    (2) "Touch Me": I love this one. There's plenty of room in my head for me to see how some other Doors fan -- much less people who dislike them -- would hate it. Not me, though. It's like bubblegum pop being done by people who are methed out but trying to pretend they aren't; in their heads, they're totally pulling it off, but in reality, they sound like lunatics.

    (3) "Shaman's Blues": I was pretty excited to see that this was your favorite Doors song. This is another one I have always loved, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone else claim it as a favorite. Great stuff. The Doors were pretty reliable in waltz time.

    (4) "Do It": I mean ... this is kind of just shit, isn't it?

    (5) "Easy Ride": I kinda like this one, and I kinda feel ashamed of that.

    (6) "Wild Child": Good, nasty groove on this one. I always figured that line about Africa must make sense to SOMEBODY, but I wouldn't be surprised if it made sense to literally nobody except Jim. Maybe not even to him.

    (7) "Runnin' Blue": I guess I see what they were going for here, and I guess they kind of pulled it off; but why would they want to?

    (8) "Wishful Sinful": I kind of dig this one, which is very well played by everyone, and builds nicely as it goes along.

    (9) "The Soft Parade": That part where Jim screams about petitioning the Lord with prayer still raises the hairs on my neck a bit. I like parts of the song here and there, but most of it is, in my opinion, a bit dreadful.

    Overall: definitely the worst album they did with Jim.

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    1. (3) Hell to the yeah. Interestingly, I had a mix CD I put in the VFW jukebox when I ran the place, and "Shaman's Blues" was on there. It struck a chord with my customers, some of them anyway - the ones who stuck a dollar in the jukebox - and that became one of the most regularly played tunes there. Most of these customers were our parents' age and Vietnam or Vietnam-era-deployment vets, so I thought that was interesting. (The Doors never got played otherwise, despite having a Greatest Hits and the movie soundtrack CDs in there, as well, so not for lack of supply.)

      (7) I have this running scenario in mind with this song where I'm defending the Doors/ Jim's free-associative-psychedelic-Shatner style and then in a lull of my argument we turn to the TV in the background and there's Jim singing "Runnin' scared, runnin' scared runnin' blue, doo be bop doo, look at doo doo" or whatever the hell happens, and me just looking at the floor, giving up the argument. Something about this track captures the "Oh come on" side of not just the Doors, but the 60s/ drunk-hippie music in general.

      (9) I kind of love the title track. It's just such a weird suite of music, with some of Jim's most outrageous wtf-is-this-guy-talking-about moments, all multi-tracked-vocals, too. Ay caramba. Cool groove, though, as always.

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  8. "Morrison Hotel" --

    (1) "Roadhouse Blues": Holy crap, is he really saying "got myself a beard"?!? I gotta say, I don't hear a "d" on there. Beauty of it is, the line works either way, and I like having this new meaning to kick around in my head. Killer song, obviously. The edition I've got has a bunch of alternative takes, and it sounds like it was a real struggle for everyone involved to find the groove on this one. I don't know how many times I'll want to actually listen to all of those false starts and laziness-filled cuts, but there's no doubt that sifting through it makes the take they eventually used shine out like a fucking diamond.

    (2) "Waiting for the Sun": In no universe does it make sense for this song not to have appeared on the album of the same name. But whatever; it's a terrific song, so I'm glad it ended up here.

    (3) "You Make Me Real": I can't say I'm too enamored of this one. It's not bad, it just doesn't do it for me in the way some of the other songs do. I'd mark it down as my least favorite song on the album. But when an album's "worst" song is this good, you know it's a hell of an album. (I love that Creem quotation about it, by the way.) [EDIT: I listened to the track again with your comments about it fresh in mind, and yeah, that is definitely some great rock.]

    (4) "Peace Frog": Just about as good as it gets. That fuckin' bass, man...! That fuckin' quitar, man...! Also, everything else.

    (5) "Blue Sunday": That is indeed a hell of a transition. I wonder if it was created entirely by editing, or did they play it through that way? The former is my guess, and if so, then that is a frakkin' FLAWLESS edit. At least to my ears. One of the major problems of listening to music via MP3s is that it wrecks transitions like that. Drives me nuts. So while typing these comments, I played the two tracks back to back with no gap, recorded it with Audacity, and then saved it into the appropriate folder so that the next time I listen to this album, that gap will be nonexistent. As for "Blue Sunday" itself, I don't LOVE love it, but it's cool.

    (6) "Ship of Fools": Smog will getcha pretty soon! Amongst other things. I dig this song, but it's not a personal favorite.

    (7) "Land Ho!": I don't know what getting your hands on a Number Two consists of, exactly, but when confusion sounds this cool, who wants clarity?

    (8) "The Spy": That's almost a Bond-worthy piano chord there toward the opening, isn't it? I can almost imagine that this was an unsolicited demo for a Bond movie, to which Broccoli and Saltzman said, "Uh, thanks, but don't call us, we'll call you." So the band shrugged and put it on this album. I'm sure it's NOT that, but if I mentally tell myself it is, I like it as an idea. I've always loved the song; great groove.

    (9) "Queen of the Highway": Not one of my favorites, but again, nothing wrong here.

    (10) "Indian Summer": I'd totally forgotten this song was on this album! It still sounds to me like an early version of "The End," but it's got its own charms, too.

    (11) "Maggie M'Gill": If they did indeed do this almost as an afterthought, then that must have been a moment when the album's producer sat there slack-jawed in amazement while they played it. Toss-off or not, this is a winner through and through.

    As is the album overall. What a bummer that there is only one of these things left! It's a dilly, though.

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    1. (8) I love that. It'd be even better if Lazenby and Morrison were buddies and we found out that was the real reason he left the franchise.

      Glad we are agreed on almost all other "Morrison Hotel" related points. I've often lamented the very same re: mp3s and playlists - something was lost, there. Ditto when sides a and b went the way of the dinosaur.

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