There’s no band in lower regard within hip circles these days than the Doors. They’re like the anti-hipsters. And that’s because the Doors are synonymous with Jim Morrison, probably the least funny, least ironic, least self-conscious, and maybe least likable musician of the last 50 years. He’s earnest to a pretentious fault, rambling about scattered Indians and bleeding ghosts; there’s a reason he became a punchline from The Simpsons to Wayne’s World.
But the Doors have a bit (a bit!) more cachet in musician circles, in large part because of Ray Manzarek, the founding member and keyboardist who died from bile-duct cancer in Germany yesterday at 74. What if we pushed for a paradigm shift—what if we stopped equating the Doors with Morrison and started equating them instead with Manzarek? If we could simply tolerate Morrison’s presence—when he’s not off on some bullshit, he’s actually a pretty solid lead singer—rather than foreground it to the point that we can’t get past it? The Doors are an awesome band. Let’s walk through some examples.