Is Jim Morrison’s The End “nebulousness passing for depth” as Robert Christgau claims?

The End is the most controversial song of The Doors. In 2010, ranked The Doors at #37 on its list of The 50 Worst Artists in Music History, describing The End as “overblown screeds of nonsense.” Such a ridiculous assessment shows how far we haven’t come in understanding The Doors. On the other hand, Piero Scaruffi tells us that “The Doors are the closest thing rock music has produced to William Shakespeare.” I don’t have more than 20,000+ CD’s like Scaruffi, but I doubt that any other group has produced the quality and intensity of poetic drama that The Doors did. The End is undoubtedly one of the most important songs in rock and roll, despite the ludicrous pronouncements of critics like Robert Christgau, Lester Bangs, Caryn James, and many others.

A very brief analysis of Morrison’s use of the snake in this song.

Ride the snake
To the lake
The ancient lake

The snake is a timeless symbol with many meanings. Let me clear up any misperceptions once and for all: snake does not equal penis in Morrison’s usage. Morrison is of course wholly aware of Freud and others who may reduce the snake to a body part (and I am oversimplifying here), but Morrison uses the snake primarily as a symbol of consciousness. Like the dragon, the snake can be an obstacle to be overcome in the West. It is also the uroboros, a well-known symbol of psychic liberation and freedom. Read the rest of this entry »

Through the Doors Brings the Group to (Larger Than) Life

Through the Doors tribute band performing at Newport Grand Event Center, June 11, 9 pm (Rhode Island, US

From the website:
Through the Doors is a multi-Media Tribute to Jim Morrison and the Doors and has been touring since 1980. This re-creation of the sound, look and “feel” of an actual Doors; concert is so complete it never ceases to startle even the seasoned crew. And it starts right away: In the darkened theatre, well before the band has taken the stage, anticipation runs hot and the chanting for “Jim” begins. Perhaps it is the audiences’ overwhelming desire to experience a true “Resurrection” that fuels the flames. Or, attribute it if you must, to a legend that survives, even grows, some 40 years after the mysterious death of James Douglas Morrison and the dissolution of his band. Even now The Doors’ albums continue to sell and Jim’s face still appears on the covers of magazines, film, television and radio. They serve up the “Lizard King” on a daily basis, and still the masses pay homage in droves that surpass even the dizzying heights of the band’s popularity when still “alive”.

Light My Fire on NPR 100, list of the 100 most significant American musical works of last century

Light My Fire was chosen as one of the 100 most significant American musical works by NPR in 2000. Not only is NPR’s coverage more intelligent than most coverage of The Doors, but it discusses John Coltrane’s and Bach’s influences on the song. Click on link at end to listen to the NPR story.

August 28, 2000 - The Doors‘ 1967 single “Light My Fire” is one of the NPR 100, our list of the most significant American musical works of the last century. Guy Raz has the story.

“My Favorite Things”

In 1960, Rodgers and Hammerstein collided withJohn Coltrane when the saxophonist let loose on the saccharine show tune “My Favorite Things.”

It was a pivotal moment in modern jazz, as Coltrane consciously set out to vary his genre’s repertoire. Some unintended results were its impact on American rock ‘n’ roll and on Ray Manzarek, a classically trained organist.

Five years after hearing Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things,” Manzarek moved to Los Angeles, where he met a poet, Jim Morrison; a guitar player, Robby Krieger; and a drummer, John Densmore, who also happened to be a jazz fan.

For Densmore and Manzarek, the freedom in jazz exposed the rigid parameters of the rock ‘n’ roll world, where AM radio ruled the airwaves. “In those days, if you wanted to be on AM radio, you had to be at three minutes,” Krieger says.

Read the rest of this entry »

Light My Fire Chosen by Rolling Stone Readers as #6 Song of the 60′s

Light My Fire chosen as one of the Top 10 songs of the 60′s by Rolling Stone readers. Hits by Dylan, the Rolling Stone, The Beatles, and others also on list.

“This 1967 single – written by guitarist Robbie Krieger – launched The Doors’ entire career. Originally five minutes long, it was cut down to three for the radio by removing the organ and guitar solos. The song’s success got them an invite to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, under the condition that Morrison not sing the line “girl, we couldn’t get much higher.” He did anyway, and they were never invited back onto the show. The Doors had many other hits during their brief career, but “Light My Fire” remains their most famous composition.”

See the video of The Doors at the Hollywood Bowl here:

Note: the song was originally 6 minutes and 50 seconds long. 4 minutes were removed for the AM single.

Fred Powledge’s Prescient Life Magazine Article – Wicked Go the Doors

Life Magazine had Powledge in the right place at the right time – the New Haven bust

New Haven Concert - Jim Morrison Arrested on Stage

Fred Powledge, a 33-year old who wanted to understand rock and roll, wrote a wonderful piece in Life Magazine called “Wicked Go the Doors: An adult’s education by the kings of acid rock.” Although Powledge mistakenly thought of Morrison as “satanic,” “dangerous” and “evil,” one can see why Morrison caused so much consternation and confusion on the part of the authorities, adults, and even Doors audiences. In the article, which features great photos of Morrison being arrested on stage, Powledge gives us some prescient observations that point to future Doors events such as Miami.

“The most satanic thing about The Doors is Jim Morrison, the lead vocalist and author of most of the group’s songs. Morrison is 24 years old, out of UCLA, and he appears – in public and on his records – to be moody, tempermental, enchanted in the mind and extremely stoned on something. Once you see him perform, you realize that he also seems dangerous, which, for a poet, may be a contradiction in terms.”

“He wears skin-tight black leather pants, on stage and away from it and when he sings, he writhes and grinds and is sort of the male equivalent of the late Miss Lilly Christine, the Cat Girl. But with Lilly Christine you had a good idea that the performance was going to stop short of its promised ending-point. You don’t know that with Morrison. ”

“His lyrics often seem obscure but their obscurity, instead of making you hurry off to play a Pete Seeger record that you can understand, challenges you to try to interpret.”

“The words are not what you’d call simple and straightforward. You can’t listen to the record once or twice and then put it away in the rack. And this is one of the exciting characteristics of the new music in general: you really have to listen to it, repeatedly, preferably at high volume in a room that is otherwise quiet and perhaps darkened. You must throw away all those old music-listening habits that you learned courtesy of the Lucky Strike Hit Parade and Mantovani.”

“The songs are really pieces of the theater.”

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Doors in Performance – Jim Morrison is “something for the world to behold, and contemplate”

One of the great passages from this Denver Post review:

“the audience clapped, shouted, and stomped feet and screamed for more. I’ve seen The Doors six times in the last three years and the audience reaction has been the same each time.

And I still don’t know why.”

Obviously, Pagliasotti didn’t get it. But The Doors and their brand of mesmerizing rock and roll has lasted more than 40 years … and counting. Even without Jim Morrison.


Doug Sundling’s Review of Oliver Stone’s The Doors – Part 2

Second part of Sundling’s review of Oliver Stone’s The Doors

After leaving the theater and reentering the dampness of the mid-March dusk, I realized what I was feeling:  “That movie has been one big drug trip.”  Fine, Oliver Stone’s rendition of Jim Morrison is an extended metaphor based on the imagery of a drug trip.  Drugs, sex, violence — the three great metaphors from which creative spirits of the Sixties drew, and Oliver Stone’s film wove an intertwining texture of all three.  The movie is a slice of Stone’s artistic vision using Jim Morrison as a vehicle to deliver that vision through film.

If you expect a chronological ordering and factual presentation of The Doors’ history, forget it.

If you expect a portrait of how the communal spirit worked and how the four Doors related to and conflicted with each other, forget it.

If you expect a portrait of how each individual Door dealt with his own coming of age during this tumultuous six-year span, forget it.

If you expect to see the unfolding blossom of the music, forget it.

You do get enticing snippets of music and some great moving snapshots of Morrison and the Sixties scene.

You do get a great resurrection by Val Kilmer of a sedated Jim Morrison who travels through the entire two hour plus drug trip with his only friend, the tall and bald “end.”

Read the rest of this entry »

40th Anniversary of Jim Morrison’s Death Around the Corner

Excerpt from “Jim Morrison’s Grave” by Katherine Sutherland, The University College of the Cariboo

The way to Jim Morrison’s grave, as everyone knows, is clearly signposted by graffiti, a crude display of youthful irreverence in what may be the most bourgeois graveyard in the Western world, where Jim Morrison rots along with Balzac, Chopin, Moliere, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde. I went there in pouring rain with a nurse from Northern California whom I met at a youth hostel. She told a story on the way about a junkie mother who smothered her infant when she rolled over on it in a pharmaceutical fog. Around the grave itself was a motley collection of inebriated youths, hacking joints, gargling Jack Daniels and at one point breaking into a maudlin medley of Doors’ tunes. The scene seemed somehow connected to an incident of the previous day, when, in the throes of a severe case of food poisoning, I puked with abandon all over the base of the towering monument at the center of the Place de Republique.

And about here you might expect me to launch into a reading of Jim Morrison’s grave which is an ode to post-structural theory, laden with puns about (de)composition. Note the graffiti, for instance: a perfectly post-modern palimpsest of spray paint over spray paint, practically begging for playful deconstruction. Check the tombstone itself, where the bust of Jim Morrison, first grotesquely painted, then finally stolen, sits permanently under erasure. The Doors sell as many albums now as they ever did, constantly reinventing their own mythology with countless bios, videos and a major motion picture, in a signifying system that shifts more often than gears at the Laguna Seca. Jim Morrison himself, dead and not dead, resists closure more than twenty years after his funeral. Representations of the Lizard King do not merely always already open the gap; Jim Morrison IS the gap.

However, in the post-everything period, the world still chokes on its own vomit, the academy still mainlines power and smothers its young, and the young look forward to a future that is more futureless than ever before. And currently the most debilitating obstacle between us and survival in the twenty-first century is the fabrication of a myth of social revolution in the 60′s which has left North America morally, intellectually and politically bankrupt. The weird thing about this myth is that it all seems to start and end at Jim Morrison’s grave…

More info here:
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Doug Sundling’s Review of Oliver Stone’s The Doors

Part 1 of Doug Sundling’s review. Sundling is the author of The Ultimate Doors Companion:


“Films are collections of dead pictures which are given artificial insemination.”

Jim Morrison, The Lords and The New Creatures

March 17, 1991.  I stood underneath the awning out of the cold Sunday afternoon rain waiting for a friend to arrive before we went into the Northcrest Holiday 1 movie theater to watch Oliver Stone’s the doors.  Two weekends earlier, the film had been released, but I had put off the inevitable, not wanting to be a part of the Giant Family, preferring a Feast of Friends atmosphere.  As I waited, I noted on the marquee that next weekend Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II would replace the doors.

Even in the bastion of cinematography, Jimbo can’t escape the halo of juvenility.

Since the early 1970s, I, too, had contemplated the making of a movie on The Doors.  I would open with “Riders on the Storm” and a scene of the desert and the car accident with the Indians, and I would close with the bathtub scene dissolving into the young lion bursting onto stage in a glowing blue spotlight, the credits rolling through as The Doors played a live version of “Break On Through.”  There were numerous other scenes that I had envisioned, but I soon resolved that The Doors was one of those stories that shouldn’t be made into a movie because their story couldn’t be made to fit into the limited scope of the camera (or a book).  Film cannot portray the music, the communal creative spirit, the swirling essence of the story of The Doors.  At best, a movie could capture a few good moving snapshots and snippets of music.  Such irony – for Jim and Ray sprung from the school of cinematography. Read the rest of this entry »

Doors on She-Bang – Photos of Jim Morrison from MildEquator

This show normally aired on Sundays, and was off the air entirely between November 1966 and January 30th, 1967 in which The Doors are believed to have returned from New York on the same day. The Doors lip synch their first single ‘Break On Through’ live on the air. Partway through this performance, Jim Morrison’s microphone appears to have been turned on briefly in which he can be heard mumbling the first chorus. Although a poor quality videotape transfer is known to collectors, a clean copy of this performance does exist.