Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Doors Don't Suck

Posted By on Tue, May 21, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Ray Manzarek Jim Morrison the Doors
  • Ugh, that guy on the right
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.

Peace Frog
If this isn't the best Doors song, it's probably the one that's the most them, both awesome and terrible. I think the best moment in the Doors canon might be the breakdown that starts at 1:18, a funky bass line that's soon joined by a harmonious organ part, quickly built up until the band smashes through into a tight groove led by a high-neck guitar solo. Then 30 seconds later the band basically stops and Morrison goes off about "eggshell minds." Heh.

Love Me Two Times
I'd give the Doors credit for being one of the few white-boy bands who can play a blues and not totally blow it, and that's because of their high level of musicianship, which is not just technically proficient but clever and full of feeling. Listen to Manzarek's harpsichord solo that starts around 1:25: it's a seemingly effortless piece of tricky rhythmic counterpoint, dancing around the beat, but more to the point who the heck plays a badass harpsichord solo over a blues?

Soul Kitchen
"Let me sleep all night in your soul kitchen"? Ugh, whatever. But like I said, forget it; listen to that rolling organ line, how tightly the band controls the rhythm, and tell me the Doors weren't a bunch of great musicians.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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