There was absolutely nobody like The Doors. There have been some great Los Angeles based bands over the years, but I wouldn’t argue with anybody who might say The Doors might have been the very best of them all. Jim Morrison? For my money, one of the top ten front men in Rock history. He was the total package; he could write, sing, entertain and had that reluctant star thing going on. If he had lived, he would have been 67 years of age today. As far as we know, Jim Morrison died on July 3, 1971 in Paris, France. The circumstances surrounding his death are extremely cloudy. No autopsy was performed so no cause of death could really be determined beyond a shadow of a doubt. I don’t think it really matters to be honest. The Doors were in a lull, but if you have to go out you can only hope your last record is as good as L.A. Woman was. I became a Doors fan in 1968 when I first heard “Hello, I Love You.” It was a throwaway track as Doors songs go, but it was big hit on so called AM Gold stations when it was released. I became an even bigger fan of the B side of the single, “Love Street” as time went on. I know a lot of Doors fans weren’t that enamored of Oliver Stone’s 1991 film The Doors, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. “Love Street” was playing when Val Kilmer (I loved this casting for the part of Jim Morrison) followed Meg Ryan (playing Pamela Courson in this movie) home. I thought that was so cool when Kilmer climbed up the tree, lands on the balcony and starts kissing Ryan after a scant few words are exchanged. I know it’s a movie and we were talking about the 60′s here, but that was superhuman behavior by our hero. I’ve probably watched this movie ten times now. I hardly ever watch a movie ten times. I realize it might not even be as good as I think it is, but they had me at “Doors.” Let’s just say I was interested in the topic.
Jim Morrison and his infatuation with the spiritual world and shamanism only adds to his mysticism. I don’t know whether to believe the story about him being upset by a car accident on an Indian Reservation at age four, heck I can’t remember yesterday sometimes, but it sure does add to the legend. And Legend is what we are talking about. None of it matters without quality music fueling the engine though. Even The Beatles didn’t come out of the chute like The Doors did. They could arguably have the best six albums to start a career in history. Show me the clunker in this lineup; 1967 The Doors, 1967 Strange Days, 1968 Waiting For The Sun, 1969 The Soft Parade, 1970 Morrison Hotel and 1971 L.A. Woman. That is really impressive if you ask me. The Doors were definitely a team, but Morrison was the man. I know there were a couple of posthumous releases credited to The Doors, but none of them have anything to do with the legend of The Doors. Next year it’ll be 40 years since Jim Morrison’s unfortunate death and it just doesn’t feel that way. I know you hear “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” and “Riders On The Storm” every day if you listen to Classic Rock radio, but music of The Doors has a surprising resiliency. I heard “Maggie M’Gill” on Carter Alan’s Sunday Morning Blues program (WZLX 100.7 in Boston). Don’t be afraid to stream it from wherever you are on the web each Sunday morning between 9-12 AM) recently and it sounded so fresh to me. I love listening to those old Doors records whenever the spirit moves me. I treasure owning them.
Jim Morrison was a Navy brat due to the fact that his father had to move around the country as dictated by the military. Morrison spent time in San Diego, Almeda, Alexandria, Clearwater and Tallahassee before moving to Los Angeles in 1964 to attend UCLA and study film. It does me no good to recount stories that have been told over and over, but while living in Venice Beach he paired up with Ray Manzarek (whom Kyle MacLachlan did a great job portraying in the movie I thought) first to begin the process of starting a band. Manzarek played keyboards. Drummer John Densmore was next and he recommended guitarist Robbie Krieger. The Doors were apparently named after Aldous Huxley’s 1954 book The Doors of Perception detailing his escapades on the drug mescaline. I was never fascinated with drugs; I guess I was more afraid of them than anything, but I hope this book was more engaging than his most famous novel, 1932′s Brave New World. I struggled my brains out reading that in my science fiction class in grade school. I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe I should try again, but judging by the books I have stacked up the to ceiling right now (new Patti Smith, new Keith Richards, Johnny Winter story, etc) that I can’t seem to read it probably won’t happen. Still, in must have been something being in The Doors during The Summer of Love. Given the way the music business worked back then I’m quite sure The Doors didn’t get their due financially initially, but their estate has still got to be worth millions. I know I’ve bought 45′s, albums, CDs and MP3s by them already in my lifetime. The Doors brand is very strong all these years later and marketing is still big business.
Do I have a favorite Doors song? Probably not. Sometimes a band just gets you lock, stock and barrel. When you get sick of one song you just move onto the next. I have absolutely nothing in mind as I type here with regard to the songs I’m going to leave you with at the end of the post. I’m going open up one of the files and go “haven’t heard that one in a while” and remark to myself what a great tune it is. How often do you find yourself just muttering that very phrase to yourself because there is no one around? I do it all the time. I do it in the car. I do it at my computer. I do while I’m folding laundry. Put another dime in the jukebox baby. Anyway, the story of The Doors has been told many times by people a lot smarter and more entertaining than I am. That doesn’t make me any less enthusiastic. No need to rehash the indecent exposure charge, the Ed Sullivan show, the Whiskey a Go-Go story, the heroin, the groupies or any of that stuff. What Jim Morrison and The Doors left behind is really quite extraordinary. I didn’t go see the Ian Astbury (The Cult), Stewart Copeland (The Police) Manzarek, Krieger version called The Doors of The 21st Century when they played Boston some years ago. I’m a big fan of The Cult and The Police, but it just didn’t feel right. I sometimes struggle with stuff like that. It’s foolish and I realize it, but I just feel like there are so many great bands to see. I don’t know how much internet access Jim Morrison has these days, but Happy Birthday Jim. There is no telling what The Doors might have come up with musically if he had lived and they had been able to stick together and press on. It’s our loss as far as I’m concerned.
Buy or Download The Very Best of The Doors From Amazon here.