There are so many ways to describe such an ambiguous group as The Doors; rebels, role models, rock deities, idols, weird, extreme, but definitely one of the greatest rock groups of the century. For some, The Doors were an undoubtedly talented group of musicians, who merged the most improbable influences possible, but shot their own feet because Morrison exhausted his unequalled theatrical and poetic talent too fast by becoming self-obsessed and erratic way too soon. For others, The Doors were the ultimate representatives of the pop culture of the 1960s, the group that unveiled the dark desires of rock and channelled them through the lyricism of French symbolism, the European philosophy of Nietzsche as much as numerous psychological inferences. It’s true that lots of Morrison’s lyrics evolved around his gloomy visions, controversial attitude, adolescent exhibitionism and mythic alter ego.
The sound of The Doors was a combination of blues, jazz, classic, and pop music with Eastern influences. This aggregation of sounds characterized the diversity of the group. Ray Manzarek, the group’s keyboardist liked to parallelize The Doors with the United States saying that as America combined so many cultures forming a multidimensional nation, The Doors emanated from different musical regions accomplishing an astonishing blend.
Their debut album ‘The Doors’, released in 1967, featured the breakthrough hit single ‘Light My Fire’ that made it to #1 on the Billboard’s Hot 100. The song was originally written by Robby Krieger, the group’s guitarist, but it was left unfinished until the band members expanded upon it. The song came out in two versions, but The Doors finally preferred the 7:06 minutes version for the album and released the 4:40 minutes version only to radio stations.
‘Break On Through’ was the first single of the album that despite being rather unsuccessful, it still remains the band’s signature staple. With its jazz-prominent intro and Krieger’s slippery guitar provisions, ‘Break On Through’ is a great 145 seconds of Morrison’s wild howling that got censored for using the word ‘high’ repeatedly in its middle section. Although the original album version and any reissue until the 1990s do not include the word high, live versions and all remastered releases include the full line ‘she gets high’.
However, the most controversial and provocative song of ‘The Doors’ album is ‘The End’, a mysterious and dark track that reveals both the theatrical skills of Morrison and perhaps a psychedelic revolution that evolves around the Oedipus complex. ‘The End’ was censored for its lyrics ‘Father, Yes son, I want to kill you / Mother, I want to f*k you’, although uncensored versions were released later with Ford Coppola using the song in the ‘Apocalypse Now’ soundtrack. Morrison never thought he was actually insulting anyone with those lyrics. He never really meant to f*k his mother. All this was a setting of Greek drama, a theatrical setting where the mother was the mother earth, the mother birth and the father that Morrison wanted to kill was his inner self that was mostly unwanted and wanted it to come to an end. Despite the criticism, ‘The End’ is admittedly one of The Doors’ most famed songs that mingles Indian sounds with rock and roll swings and folk elements of the 1950s; a real masterpiece.
‘The Doors’ was a huge success reaching #2 on the Billboard Music Charts and going multi-Platinum. Other great tracks in the album were ‘The Crystal Ship’, a slow tune on a classical piano background that features Morrison’s extraordinary songwriting skills, ‘Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)’, a track based on Brecht’s opera with rather simple lyrics, which however remains classic, and ‘Soul Kitchen’ that features great keyboard tempo, mellow guitar solo and great vocals.
‘The Doors’ remains an all time classic album and one of the most fascinating and radical albums of psychedelic rock.