The Lizard King: the Most Essential Albums of the Doors

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It might be easy to say with nonchalance that songwriting essential is poetry, but in calling all songwriters poets, you would be doing Jim Morrison a grave disservice. With a depth and clarity that implies the ability to conjure ancient deities, insight riots and orgies, and form movements or religions, his lyrics rise well beyond the heights of rock and roll intellect, placing themselves amongst the words of humanities greatest thinkers. Add to this the immaculate accompaniment of Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger and you have much more than just your typical rock band, you have The Doors.

Enjoy them on whatever level your little pea brain will allow. Part of their greatness lies in transcending intellectual boundaries so even the dummy can enjoy their music, however the educated listener certainly benefits most. To help my more meager minded friends, I’ve compiled a list of their 5 best albums. Don’t get discouraged by big scary words and unfamiliar concepts, just relax, put some headphones on (or ear-buds in) and zone out. After all, atypical and deviant as they may be, they actually exemplify rock and roll.

5 An American Prayer

Yes, An American Prayer. Does your inability to accept an album of poetry and backtracks in this list sway the decision?Obviously not. Equally obvious is your complete and utter lack of understanding of what this band actually was. I will not highlight specific tracks, I will not summarize the album as a whole, and I will not suggest this one to those of you with short attention spans. This album is simply too good for you. Come back to it when you’ve matured some and aren’t so tormented by those formidable abstractions. This album will blow your mind when you are ready to let it.

4 L.A. Woman

I fear it may become redundant to continue discussing Jim Morrison’s discernment, but it would be difficult to encapsulate a track like “Riders On The Storm” without doing so. “The Hyacinth House,” “Love Her Madly” “The Wasp,” these are timeless pieces, thoughtful and passionate, embracing wholly the music and the words. This album might be too delicate for you, there is balance here, there is nuance, there are musical virtues beyond your comprehension, and again, despite it’s intelligence, this album is pure, unadulterated rock and roll.

3 Waiting For The Sun

Finally something for the laymen and the teenybopper, “Hello I Love You” caters to the radio masses. It’s an undeniable hit, and poppy as it may be this opener manages to maintain respectability. Plus it gives something to those unable or unwilling to wade into the deeper waters of “Five to One” or “Not to Touch the Earth,” or to explore the politics of “The Unknown Soldier”. Jim has personified the shaman at this point, and there is intensity within their productions seldom found elsewhere in entertainment.

2 Strange Days

It’s a close second; there is no question about that. “People Are Strange” alone could have put this album in the number one spot. Sinister and menacing, this album flows along as a fog through a darkened ally. “You’re Lost Little Girl,” “Strange Days,” “I Can’t See Your Face In My Mind”: these songs provide insight to the mind of a madman, innocently and sweetly lulling the audience to join the insanity, withan air of romanticism. Lunacy and sensuality wed in harmonious bliss. “When the Music’sOver” you might have a clearer understanding of derangement and you might like it.

1 The Doors

You’d be a fool to argue the self-titled The Doors is not their best album. Not only is it their highest selling, it is the firstalbum they released and there is little to imply they are rookie rockers. This album showcases their dynamic immediately. Albeit vague in its assertion, the opening “Break On Through” comes through with such musical impetus, the audience is instantly made aware of the cosmic journey about to embark. The chart topping “Light My Fire”, chilling and cryptic, yet catchy and up-tempo, is perhaps one of the best-known rock songs of all time. And (put the kiddies to bed for this one) “The End” delves into the realm of Freudian psychology focusing itself mostly on the mind of a murderer with an Oedipus complex: serious subject matter for a rock song.

So if you are up to it, if rituals and trances, maniacs and healers, ghosts and gods do little to deter you, here’s a good starting point. If you’re one that’s made the quest, maybe your insanity has itself organized differently, if so “Touch Me” with your opinion.

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