The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Wild Years

Greil Marcus. Public Affairs, $24.99 (240 pages) ISBN 978-1-58648-945-8
Music critic Marcus (Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus) offers a relentlessly beautiful and insightful evaluation of the music of the Doors—a fitting tribute on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Morrison’s death in 1971—but also a complete rethinking of the Doors’ work as an entire story that captures the 1960s as “a place, even as it is created, people know they can never really inhabit, and never escape.” He begins with the band’s first album, The Doors, and offers a tribute to the power of the work as a whole, especially the lengthy and much-maligned “The End,” to make “everything seems tentative, uncertain, unclear: that’s the source of the song’s power, it’s all-encompassing embrace of darkness, doom and dread.” He argues that the band’s second album, Strange Days, perfectly captured the end of the 1960s ideals: “Already in 1968 the Doors were performing not freedom but its disappearance.” And he contrasts a fascinating range of official and bootleg live recordings of such hit singles as “Touch Me” to show that by 1970 “a war between the band and its audience was underway, a war whose weapons were contempt on both sides.” This is an impressive tribute to “the revolt the Doors momentarily embodied, and acted out,” as well as to Jim Morrison’s artistic attempt to move beyond the hatred he felt for the band’s pop success. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
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