["The End"] was the first major statement of the Doors' perennial themes: dread, violence, guilt without possibility of redemption, the miscarriages of love, and, most of all, death.
Nevertheless, the last time I heard "The End," it sounded funny. Even by Strange Days, the second Doors album, it was becoming apparent that the group was limited, and that Morrison's "Lizard King" vision was usually morbid in the most obvious possible way, and thus cheap. The whole nightmare easily translated into parody—and there was a supremely sad irony here….
[The] Doors' artistic stock had hit an all-time low with The Soft Parade…. Relying more and more on brass, strings, and anything else they could bring in, they had not only failed to live up to their original promise—they had (Morrison had) turned what they represented into a joke. Morrison Hotel, released in early 1970, redeemed them some-what, but somehow between Morrison's antics and the whole band's musical slippage the Doors had become a dead issue by the beginning of the Seventies. Morrison was by turns painfully and wryly aware of his own absurdity, and you can hear his humor in the between-song banter and semiimprovised lyrics ("Dead cat in a top hat … thinks he's an aristocrat / … That's crap") on Absolutely Live (1970). (p. 262)
Lester Bangs, "The Doors," in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, edited by Jim Miller (copyright © 1976 by Rolling Stone Press; reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.), Rolling Stone Press, Random House, 1976, pp. 262-63.