Released January 4, 1967 this debut album was the core push forward of psychedelic rock. With themes addressing civil rights, anti-war, sex-positive, women’s reproductive rights and more in their lyrics, The Doors were considered controversial and part of the popular counter-culture movement of the era. Due in part to that, this album has sold 20 million copies to date. Both the album and the song “Light My Fire” are in the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.
Jason: Hello, I love you. Won’t you tell me your name?
Brad: It’s Brad.
Jason: Great. So…how familiar with The Doors were you?
Brad: I briefly got into them in 1991 when the Oliver Stone’s The Doors movie came out. However, I realized when listening to this I must have only listened to “The Best of The Doors” because I didn’t know about half of these songs.
Jason: I haven’t ever seen that movie but I know of The Doors because in 7th grade I remember walking in to school behind a group of 8th graders and they had written THE DOORS on the back of their jean jackets just below the collar. And I remember thinking “What are The Doors?” then after I found out I thought “those guys are cool and they like The Doors so I want to be cool and so I will also listen to The Doors.” So I got my hands on this LP from either my dad or my uncle and listened to it. I remember thinking “this is some hippie rock music and I think it’s about sex and drugs and those kids are heads (aka burnouts) and I don’t want to be like them” so I went back to Top 40 pop.
Brad: Oh wow, that was a journey.
Jason: Yes, it eventually led me to Depeche Mode so it all worked out.
Brad: What do you think of the album now?
Jason: I don’t mind it. It is a very counter-culture “turn on, tune in, drop out” kind of sound. I can see how the late ’60s “radical youth” as it were, were into taking LSD and just melting into am 11-minute song by them.
Brad: I agree. You can see how this album must have been a shocking sound for 1967. I like it quite a bit. I’m impressed that this is their debut album and it has so many memorable songs that you still hear today like “Break On Through” & “Light My Fire”
Jason: Yeah, it’s pretty good. It has some weird moments but overall it’s definitely listenable. Except “The End” which is too long and kind of annoying but it’s not terrible. In high-school some of the guys, again the heads, were into them and so at school dances they would always play a few songs. Not that they would dance to it. I think it was “cool” to like The Doors in the late 80s because Jim Morrison was a radical. These are the same people, the aforementioned jean jacket crew, that would carve the Anarchy symbol into desks or “tattoo” them on their arms in Bic pen. I doubt they even know what any of that meant or what The Doors stood for. It was just that Jim Morrison was cool and dead and it wasn’t Phil Collins or Madonna or Van Halen or whatever else Top 40 music was popular at the time.
Brad: I think it holds up pretty well. “Hello, I Love You” is pretty great song too. My favorite song by The Doors is “People Are Strange” which makes me think of the Echo & the Bunnymen cover that was in one of my favorite movies “The Lost Boys”.
Jason: Another movie I have never seen. The album does hold up well and has a good sound over all.
Brad: On this album, one of my favorites is “Alabama Song” which I always thought was written by The Doors until I recently discovered it is a Bertolt Brecht & Kurt Weill song
Jason: Oh, that’s interesting. I guess it is the most different song on this album. By that I mean it sounds not like anything else on here.
Brad: Yeah, I guess it makes sense now that I know but up until now, whenever I’ve heard a cover of that song, I thought they were covering The Doors
Jason: We have both been to Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris. What did you think of it? I was there in high school and thought “this is a mess and also who cares? Stop pretending he was a god, you are a 17-year-old from Pittsburgh. Why are we wasting time here? Can’t we go shopping instead?”
Brad: You sound like you were a brat when you visited the grave.
Jason: I said I THOUGHT it, i didn’t say it. Besides I think we were in the cemetery for like 20 minutes. Did you find it inspiring? Was he a poet to you?
Brad: I thought it was pretty cool to be at his grave but the fans did make a mess of it. I was really impressed to see a “Rock Star” buried in a cemetery with so many amazing people like Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Frederic Chopin, etc…
Jason: Jim Morrison was a sex symbol. I think people that don’t even know their music could recognize a photo of him. Personally I like the chunky bearded Morrison better.
Brad: Yeah, he always looked sexy in those old photos. However, I read Linda Ronstadt’s book a few years ago and she tells a story about being the opening act for The Doors on their tour in 1968. Jim actually sounded like a nightmare to be around. Always high, violent and out of control. I don’t think we would find him sexy if we knew him.
Jason: I think that’s true of most stars. He died young, in 1971 at age 27, which added to his fame. There is no denying that their music is pretty good. I have listened to a few later songs and I generally like them.
Brad: True. He is one of “27 Club” along with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, etc… I find it amazing that The Doors were only recording albums together for about four years and created so much great music in that time. I think they were releasing two albums per year before Jim died.
Jason: Six albums between 1967 and 1971 plus a Live album and 15 singles that all charted including several #1s. That’s pretty impressive. That era yielded a lot of influential art and music. The culture was shifting to the youth wanting equal rights, sexual and drug experimentation, pro-choice views, anti-war etc. It gave birth to a lot of art and unfortunately some of that excess (drugs) took some of them too young.
Brad: Yeah, it really is impressive. And sad that Jim died so young. So what grade would you give this album?
Jason: Before listening to them I was preconceived to “meh” but after spending some time with it I realize that I do appreciate The Doors. I would give the album a B+ because I now want to listen to some of their later works as well. That’s the mark of a good debut album. #edsheeranfailedthattest
Brad: Ha! I completely agree with you and also give this one a B+. However, I’m not sure I want to learn much more about Jim Morrison as a person.
Jason: No but I will google “Jim Morrison naked”.
Brad: I’m surprised you haven’t already.
Below is the scratch-off artwork from the 100 Bucket List poster.