NPR logo A Plea For Banishment

A Plea For Banishment

I was cleaning out a drawer the other day when I found a CD my friend made for me labeled 'The Doors-Live in Stockholm 1968.' I then proceeded to pull out the three or four Doors albums that I have and gave them a listen. It was bright and sunny and I had the windows open and I will admit to a small amount of embarrassment when "Light My Fire" just wouldn't seem to end. I imagined by mailman walking up my front steps and hearing the Ray Manzarek solo through the wall and the moment felt right out of The Big Chill to me. No, I wasn't wearing a cowl neck sweater, drinking Chablis, swaying to the music, or hanging out with Tom Berenger, yet the feeling of awkwardness lingered. (As a side note, that movie ruined at least a handful of decent songs. Merely hearing a song from The Big Chill makes one feel so self-conscious and contrived that even the act of listening becomes a parody. And, yes, I know that The Doors are not on that soundtrack, but the ubiquity of "Light My Fire" has the same effect.)

But I digress. My point is that many people I know hate The Doors. And by hate I mean that they seem to have a "Why Jim Morrison and The Doors Are The Worst Band Ever" essay memorized and ready to go at any given moment. (Possibly this essay is available on the Internet in order to help the cause). I'm sure you've heard the anti-Doors diatribe, it usually begins or ends with the words "pretentious" or "Lizard King". Fair enough.

There are some bands on whom people don't agree—turns out not everyone thinks The Beatles should be deities—but these bands tend to garner at least a begrudging amount of respect from the naysayers. Or, their importance in the grand scheme of music is hard to deny even if one doesn't particularly like it. I would put the entire Jazz genre into this category as well as Bob Dylan and James Brown (yet there are many others, for sure). But then there are a handful of bands that are so vehemently abhorred that the mere mention of them might ruin, say, a perfectly relaxing road trip or a dinner with friends. These are bands or artists for whom the haters can find no good reason for them to have ever existed. (Yet they have to have been big enough to be worth arguing over. No one is going to get literally or figuratively punched out over a band like Bush or Marcy Playground).

The Doors fall into this latter category. And if I were pressed to give a few more examples of artists in the same contentious vein, I would add: the Eagles, Joni Mitchell, the genre known as Riot Grrl, Phish, Metallica, Hole/Courtney Love, Moby, Sting, and to a lesser degree (because most everyone realizes their importance eventually) the Grateful Dead.

Are there any bands whose popularity you feel is a complete affront to music?

Lastly, for all of you Doors haters, all I have to say is "ride the snake, ride the snake".
No, wait, don't. My affection for the Doors doesn't extend to quoting lyrics.

OK, this is the end.