Thursday, October 16, 2008
This is the best part of the trip: Five Songs From The Doors
I’ve never liked it when people categorize and subcategorize music into overly specific genres. It just never really works. Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Acid Rock, Glam Rock, Grunge Rock, Metal, Speed Metal, Thrash Metal, Emo, Scremo, Punk, Pop Punk, whatever. Trying to corral the enormous variety of Rock and Roll into a million preset classes is futile and counterproductive. It requires one to lump together bands that sound nothing alike for the sake of convenience.
I say this because The Doors defy any attempt to categorize. No one has ever sounded anything like them. Sure they were heavily influenced by the Blues. But their take on the Blues remains completely distinctive forty years after their records were made. Jim, Ray, Robby and John made a total of six albums in span of about four years. (There were three made after Jim’s death, but I’m not counting them.) On those six albums, they don’t have a bad song. When you consider how totally unique and downright strange their sound is, that is an incredibly impressive accomplishment.
Now, I realize that it is necessary to classify different eras and varieties of music into genres. I just don’t like it when people use those terms in an effort to define that music. For the record, in my Itunes I have The Doors filed under the genre “Music So Good, It Makes Me Weep”.
Peace Frog - Morrison Hotel 1970
It’s kind of Funk, kind of Jazz, certainly Blues and Rock. Peace Frog illustrates The Doors’ talent in seamlessly crossing musical boundaries.
I Looked At You - The Doors 1967
This is really just a poppy little love song. Seriously, The Monkees could have sung this song. But when you filter its puppy love lyrics and catchy hook through Ray’s funeral organ and Jim’s aggressive and primal delivery, it becomes dangerous. And the threat of danger is a definitive element in their music.
Five to One – Waiting For the Sun 1968
Jim tears the hell out of the vocals in this song. I love his mumbly ad libs. “I love my girl. She’s looking good. One more.” Morrison is without question the greatest front man of any band ever. Whenever I lose myself in a rock star fantasy (screw you for judging me, you know you have done it) I am always Jim. I’m actually me, but I sound and act like Jim. Not Mick, Plant, Freddy, Bono, Ozzie, Axel or Eddie because Jim beats the hell out of every one of them.
I love Zeppelin, as I have previously documented. I love them just the way they are. But imagine for a moment if Jim Morrison sang the vocals for Whole Lotta Love. It would kick complete ass. Now imagine if Robert Plant sang Light My Fire. It doesn’t work.. This is not a rip on Robert Plant. It’s just something to thing about.
The Soft Parade – The Soft Parade 1969
Of the six Doors records, The Soft Parade is the unloved, weird looking, smelly step child. A lot of Doors fans don’t like it very much. When I previously declared that they never recorded a bad song, I bet a few of you said to yourself, “But Soft Parade sucks.” If you did say that, you are wrong. Yeah, a lot of it sounds like a Frank Sinatra impression. But I love the use of the horn section. And damn it, if Jim Freakin Morrison wants to croon, I’m gonna let him croon. Check out this performance of Touch Me. They're almost lampooning themselves. Completely different from anything they had done, but it totally works.
The song The Soft Parade is a strange one. It drastically changes like 6 times. It starts slow, but stick with it. At about three minutes you hear this: “The monk bought lunch!” What does that mean? I have no friggin idea. But at that point the song settles into itself with a badass rhythm section and more of Jim’s patented delivery.
Riders On the Storm - L.A. Woman 1971
The Doors are unique as a band in that they feature the organ more than the guitar. Robbie has some blistering hooks and solos, but Ray’s organ work does most of the heavy lifting. It gives the music its bizarre character. Riders On the Storm is a song that is both disturbing and peaceful. Play this one loud while driving by yourself late at night on an empty highway.