I’ve Made a Huge Mistake: The Drunkest Man Alive

jimmorrisonEverybody who gets into rock music goes through a phase where they live and breathe Jim Morrison and the Doors. Something about Morrison’s wild baritone and abstract impressionistic lyrics resonate with people. More often than not, these people tend to be 11 years old. Arguably, that’s the only demographic that shouldn’t be embarrassed to like the group. It’s not that I don’t like the Doors. A few of their songs are legitimately great (“Break on Through,” “The Crystal Ship,” and “Strange Days” are some examples). They just don’t speak to me the same way they did when I was 11. It’s probably because the Doors, when you lay it all out, are completely ridiculous in this day and age. For the purposes of my story, there are 4 “great” California bands that did their best work during the 60’s-and 70’s. The Grateful Dead‘s influence can be felt both in the communal aspect of acts like Phish or Widespread Panic, and also in the folk-accented rock of Mumford and Sons and other bands who kind of blow. The Beach Boys have clearly left a wide variety of imitators in their wake, both in their use of intricate harmonies and complex studiocraft, and Fleetwood Mac* codified the modern supergroup, complete with inner turmoil and excessive amounts of scarves. So where does that leave the Doors? I suppose Jim Morrison would say that “We are the echoing music across the desert, the spirit of an ancient shaman who can do blood magic.” Then, Ray Manzarek would say, “Isn’t Jim Morrison great?”

Of these other great California bands, most of their output seems fresh today. The Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” doesn’t seem particularly dated in 2015, partially because it wasn’t especially “of the times” in 1970 when it came out. Fleetwood Mac feels a little cocaine-dusty, but Rumors holds up pretty well. But the Doors are so quintessentially 60’s that their music is bound to have less impact 50 years on.

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I ask you this, dear reader: Where can the influence of the Doors be felt in modern times? I suppose a bit of Morrison can be found in outspoken frontmen like Eddie Vedder and Scott Weiland. But even those references are 20 years old. The Doors represent a movement that could have only happened in the mid-60’s. In light of the Beatles clones of the time, Morrison’s weak ass poetry must have seemed revelatory. He was probably the first artist in 10 years to write a song without the words “You,” “Baby” or “Love.” If we were dying of thirst in the desert, we would even drink New York City water. That doesn’t make it especially good, or even potable in the technical sense. The Doors, in a way, present the perfect narrative, the antidote for the shaggy-headed rock of the era. Morrison was a disillusioned UCLA film student. His ideas were too big for the medium of film. He’d read Aldous Huxley and Arthur Rimbaud. He had a dark streak. He may or may not have had a dead Native American inside him (probably “may not.”).

The whole thing seems contrived in modern times. It feels like an excuse for Morrison to exercise his favorite hobby of getting way too drunk and being insulting without fear of repercussion. After all, he is a mouthpiece for truth itself, and if you don’t like the taste of it then get the hell out of the soup, Jack!

In the 60’s it was commonplace to call everyone “Jack.”

It may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but based on everything we know now it’s kind of hard to buy in to the “Jim Morrison as High Priest” thing. The assertion that Morrison was anything more than a severely damaged human being is fairly well torn apart by what a completely irredeemable asshole he was throughout almost all aspects of his life. This is based on literally every account available at the time. He was a bully, a misogynist, completely unreliable friend and an unfaithful partner. He was an art school kid gone wild, lost in his subjective reality, completely alien to the ways of human interaction. James Douglas Morrison was an insufferable open sore of a human being. He warbled his failed souffles, items that never quite filled with air, and was fortunate enough to know a decent keyboard player, who is now also dead.

And yet, none of this has anything to do with his songs. In fact, I will sing “Love Her Madly” at karaoke if the mood strikes me. I kind of like the Doors, which is a testament to the power of Morrison’s lyrics. You know, some of them. I guess the lesson here is that we always have to separate the singer from the song. When you listen to a song you like, you aren’t necessarily buying into that artist’s entire life philosophy.

Much props goes out to the instrumental Doors component. We have to acknowledge Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore. Without them, we would be forced to hear all the poetry.

If there is a moral (and articles don’t need to have morals, so I’m totally throwing you a bone) it’s that good songs come from a variety of sources, and we shouldn’t write a band off just because their lead singer is a piece of literal human garbage.

Weird scenes inside the goldmine, indeed.

Mistake or Not: As far as being a mistake, I give The Doors 5 Nuts. 5 being the most Nuts and logically a huge mistake.

But I still recommend about ten songs. Maybe I give the Doors as a band 2 Nuts, but the idea of being objective and brutally honest about your past deserves 5 Nuts.

This is why we don’t assign numbers to life experiences.



































*I realize that Fleetwood Mac is a British band by origin. However, their most successful era and arguably their most influential as a band occurred during the period of time where Buckingham/Nicks (American/California artists) were major creative forces. Also, the band primarily recorded Rumours in Sausalito, CA.

Photo credit: By Elektra Records (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

15 comments to “I’ve Made a Huge Mistake: The Drunkest Man Alive”
  1. I’ve always believed it was Ray Manzarek’s keyboards that make the Doors music sound so dated. Manzarek was a talented guy, and he pioneered a certain sound, but that keyboard style became a caricature of 60s music, and I don’t think their body of work could overcome that caricature.

  2. Posner, Its only your opinion of the doors. As for your choice of the gd’s, it is pathetic! Worse group ever! Whimsy, washy, goofy, druggy Garcia pos! Although Morrison was a pos also, at least its listenable unlike gd’s puke! As far as your political leanings, and schooling I see why you favor leftist’s

  3. I don’t think The Doors were the first example of an artist from the sixties writing about something other than “loving their baby”. There was a certain artist named Bob Dylan around back then, if you recall.

  4. The fact that we’re talking about the Doors so long after Jim’s death says he’s going to be remembered!!! RIP!

  5. Right now, in the beginning of the social media era your allowed to write whatever shit you want to get famous.
    I think your wrong:)

    • I cannot disagree more. There are people given certain jobs in this world that have no business being there. I think the Doors have way more than 10 songs that are great. I guess you watched Oliver Stones’ The Doors one to many times. I do not love The Doors because of drunken escapades or Shaman stories. I love The Doors for some great lyrics and music. Dated music? Or uneducated mind? Go back to law school, because you failed this assignment. Sorry, I am calling it like I see it.

  6. There really is not many bands that sound like the Doors. 50 years later I still have there 5 CD’s. I still enjoy listening to them. Their first Album is still in my 100 best albums. So I guess I disagree with the article. Grateful Dead were a long lived group with an loyal following, but I would not put their song catalog as particular great.

  7. I can’t take anyone seriously who lists Husker Du and Guided by Voices as 2 of their favorite all time bands. Gimme a break. LA Woman record is damn good and that was at the end…

  8. Yeah the doors are meh.

    However, CSN are a great california band

    and new york city water is great. Comes from the mountains upstate.

  9. You know what, Dude Is Right? You’re right! I probably should have picked CSN. Especially because Fleetwood Mac originated in England before the Buckingham/Nicks era. Glaring omission!

  10. My two cents? I think it is generational thing. I’m in the same age group as the writer and man oh man did i love The Doors as a kid/young teen. Now I see them a little differently, still good, still some striking lyrics, but they definitely sound dated, and no Mr Mojo Risin’s personality doesn’t help matters much. I agree it is kinda hard to really pick out the Doors influence in later music. There were a lot of poetic, bluesy, dramatic, trippy rock musicians out there! You certainly don’t hear the organ anywhere anymore. Now, ask my dear old Dad who was a contemporary of The Doors, and who will happily play Waiting for the Sun on loop? You’d get a very different answer. I think The Doors really captured the spirit of the times for a lot of people. Will people say the same stuff about my favorite contemporary musicians in 50 years? Of course!

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