THE DOORS OPEN
by Richard Goldstein 1967
"We are from the West. The world we suggest should be of a new Wild West. A
sensuous, evil world. Strange and haunting....the path of the sun, you
That's what Jim Morrison, vocalist and writer-in-residence of The Doors, has to
say about his music and his hometown. As part of the new wave in Los Angeles
rock, he should know where things are at. Since a pop generation happens every
two years or sooner, The Doors have the proximity to revere their elders, and
the distance to be original.
Their initial album, on Elektra, is a cogent, tense, and powerful excursion. I
suggest you buy it, slip it on your phonograph, and travel on the vehicle of
your choice. The Doors are slickly, smoothly, dissonant. With the schism between
folk and rock long since healed, they can leap from pop to poetry without
violating some mysterious sense of form. But this freedom to stretch and shatter
boundaries make pretension as much a part of the new scene as mediocrity was the
scourge of the old. It takes a special kind of genius to bridge gaps in form.
Their music works because it's blues roots are always visible. The Doors are
never far from the musical humus of America- rural, gut simplicity.
The most important work on this album is an extended pop song called "The
End." When Dylan broke the three-minute mold with "Like A Rolling
Stone," pop composers realized that the form-follows-function dictum which
has always guided folk-rock applies to time as well. A song should take as long
as it takes.
"The End" is eleven and one-half minutes of solid song. It's hints of
sitar and tabla and it's faint aroma of raga counterpoint are balanced by a
sturdy blues foundation. Anyone who disputes the concept of rock literature had
better listen long and hard to this song. This is Joycean pop, with a
steam-of-consciousness lyric in which images are strung together by association.
"The End" builds to a realization of mood rather than a sequence of
events. It is also the fist pop song in my memory to deal directly with the
Oedipus complex. "The End" begins with visions of collapsing peace and
harmony, and ends with violent death.
The entire song revolves around a theme of travel, but this journey is both
physical and spiritual. It leads to the brass-tacks fantasy of incest and
patricide. Morrison provides us with a series of womblike halls and doors and a
reference to Greek tragedy in the ancient gallery of masks. And he juxtaposes
this root fantasy with a bluesy refrain which begins: "Come on baby, take a
chance with us" and ends with the proposition: "Meet me in the back of
the blue bus."
There is, of course, a danger in so academic an interpretation of a song like
"The End." It's whole value is it's freedom to imply. Morrison's
delivery (during the murder fantasy, it approaches gospel wailing) tells us to
absorb first, and search later.
The Doors are a major event for Los Angeles. Their emergence indicates that the
city of Formica fantasy is building a music without neon, that glows anyway.
New York Magazine
March 19, 1967