You Know Who Doesn’t Suck <i>That</i> Much? The Doors.
While I’m surprised at how profuse the reaction was to Dan’s outta nowhere but fairly mundane blast at the Lizard King and his bandmates yesterday, I’m sympathetic to those aggrieved to see that we’d give rock and roll’s preeminent shaman so little respect. So I figured it’d be only fair to share some reasons why I, personally, do not hate the Doors.
1. They are really fucking funny.
My god, did you watch that trailer for the movie? Maybe it hurt at the time, but after fifteen-plus years, that tragedy is comedy now if it wasn’t the second it came out. If Dan didn’t also have some kneejerk beef with Lester Bangs, he might have read a great piece in Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste named “Jim Morrison: Bozo Dionysus A Decade Later” that shows how it easy it was to find and enjoy the camp in the Doors, even while finding Morrison’s sociopathic and self-adoring tendencies repugnant. And that was written in 1981, when it was probably a lot harder to ignore his lionization.
While classic rock hegemony has obviously survived in the Web 2.0 era (I mean, check out that comments section), the increase in differing voices and the rise of nostalgia for years well past the Summer Of Love make it hard for me to resent these dinosaurs the way I did back when there were only 57 channels (and nothing on). We’re not forced to hear that nothing will ever beat the ’60s anymore, so its easier to take the icons of the age at face value.
2. At face value, the Doors are really fucking funny. So this pretty boy poet gets together with an organist he knows from film school. Soon they get a little bass-free band together that mixes supper club schmaltz and classic blues as if it’s all the same trip. And while Jimbo’s a wordsmith, he’s not above singing a ditty by the guitarist that winds up being over six minutes long! And this is what they take to Ed Sullivan! Weirdos!
3. They wrote their share of groovy little tunes. Get over (or surrender to) the idea that you’re dealing with a prophet and it’s pretty easy to get into stuff like “Break On Through” and “L.A. Woman.” As ridiculous as organ-based bands can sound, the band could work up a dramatic backdrop for Morrison’s shtick. Sez Bangs: “he took all the dread and fear and even explosions into seeming freedom of the Sixties and made them first seem even more bizarre, dangerous and apocalyptic than we already thought they were, then turned everything we were taking so seriously into a big joke mid-stream.” That’s actually kind of cool.
4. We’re pretty quick to tolerate trippy ’60s bullshit if the artists are “underappreciated.” Dan talks about not wanting to blame Arthur Lee for getting the Doors signed to Elektra. Arthur Lee? The guy who lived in bottles and pretended they were cans? The guy who dropped garage rock to sing over strings like Johnny Mathis about the snot on his pants? Can you imagine how much people would resent Love if they had a Doors-like cult behind them? Inversely, if you treat the Doors like just another bunch of sixties screwballs, there’s a lot of gold in thar hills. Don’t sleep on The Soft Parade just because Mom got there first.
5. They are really fucking funny.
Ha ha, Tom Jones.