The Doors were here and then, nearly as quickly, they were gone: UCLA Jim Morrison and college classmate Ray Manzarek launched the band in the summer of 1965. Morrison, the mainstay of the group died in 1971. The original group recorded only five albums together, but in the past decade, perhaps as many as two dozen live Doors albums have been released. Over the years, there have been numerous biographies of Morrison's life and, indeed, the mysterious circumstances of his death. This book, however, is the first published about The Doors' music. Pop culture observer Greil Marcus (Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus; Mystery Train; Dead Elvis) has been watching and listening and re-listening to the Doors since their glory years. Both deeply personal and disarmingly insightful, his new The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Wild Years cuts past scandalous stories about group feuds and Morrison's drug problems to explore the extraordinary music they made.
The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Yearsby Greil Marcus
A fan from the moment the Doors’ first album took over KMPX, the revolutionary FM rock & roll station in San Francisco, Greil Marcus saw the band many times at the legendary Fillmore Auditorium and the Avalon Ballroom in 1967. Five years later it was all over. Forty years after the singer Jim Morrison was found dead in Paris and the group disbanded, one could
A fan from the moment the Doors’ first album took over KMPX, the revolutionary FM rock & roll station in San Francisco, Greil Marcus saw the band many times at the legendary Fillmore Auditorium and the Avalon Ballroom in 1967. Five years later it was all over. Forty years after the singer Jim Morrison was found dead in Paris and the group disbanded, one could drive from here to there, changing from one FM pop station to another, and be all but guaranteed to hear two, three, four Doors songs in an hourevery hour. Whatever the demands in the music, they remained unsatisfied, in the largest sense unfinished, and absolutely alive. There have been many books on the Doors. This is the first to bypass their myth, their mystique, and the death cult of both Jim Morrison and the era he was made to personify, and focus solely on the music. It is a story untold; all these years later, it is a new story.
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Meet the Author
Greil Marcus is the author of Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus, When that Rough God Goes Riding, The Shape of Things to Come, Mystery Train, Dead Elvis, In the Fascist Bathroom, Double Trouble, Like a Rolling Stone, and The Old Weird America; a twentieth anniversary edition of his book Lipstick Traces was published in 2009. With Werner Sollors he is the editor of A New Literary History of America, published last year by Harvard University Press. Since 2000 he has taught at Princeton, Berkeley, Minnesota, and the New School in New York; his column “Real Life Rock Top 10” appears regularly in The Believer. He has lectured at U Cal, Berkeley, The Whitney Museum of Art, and Princeton University. He lives in Berkeley.
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With a cover of Joel Brodsky's Elektra publicity photo of The Doors dressed in unexpectedly warm colors of the sun, Greil Marcus' "The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years" is an unexpected look at selected songs of The Doors and pop culture. Marcus' book is a fans' book, he says that it started at the Avalon Ballroom with his wife and seeing The Doors and on their way out, took handbills of the show and after a lifetime they still have them. Marcus, best known for music criticism and pop culture, is a Doors fan, but an objective one, he is well versed in all aspects of music and the artists but also the language of music and focuses his lens on The Doors. Marcus' "The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years" is about twenty critical essays on Doors songs, his prose weaves in and out of the songs to where his thoughts take him, either in relation to the lyrics themselves or some aspect of pop culture. The chapter on "Twentieth Century Fox" is a take off point for an extended essay on 50's-60's pop culture and how The Doors fit in. In the essay on "L.A. Woman" he makes the case that it could be used as a soundtrack for Thomas Pynchon's recent novel, "Inherent Vice," and the song is a pop art map of the city. Marcus isn't an easy ride through The Doors, you'll find yourself agreeing with some of his conclusions, such as on "Take it as it Comes" "seemed to start in the middle of some greater song." Or even disagreeing with his conclusions, such as Morrison's tribute to Otis Redding, "poor Otis dead and gone/left me here to sing his song", ".was beyond arrogant, it was beyond obnoxious, it was even beyond racism." which always seemed a heartfelt tribute to Redding to me. As you read you'll find yourself wanting to listen to the songs to see for yourself whether Marcus' critiques are apt or not. Jim writes The Doors Examiner
The worst book about the Doors I have read. The author spends more time talking about himself, not in relation to the Doors, than anything else. There are much better books out there. No One Here Gets Out Alive is a good place to start.