Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 533
With Morrison …, each Doors concert or album became more than just music—it was theatre; theatre of the macabre, theatre of cruelty; theatre of the absurd all rolled into one. And always living theatre….
Properly performed (it's not done particularly well on "Absolutely Live") "The Celebration Of The Lizard" lulls an audience with a grotesque recitation before Morrison screams at ear-piercing level "Wake up!" then alternates the two sides of Morrison's psyche throughout the song….
[The Door's first album] showed that Morrison was one of the major "poetic" lyricists of the twentieth century. I use the word poetic to differentiate between him and say, Chuck Berry, who wrote in actual images rather than imagery.
I'm no expert in poetry, but the difference as I see it between the two is that while Berry chose one example ("Johnny B. Goode," say) to sum up a whole generation, Morrison wrote about the emotions that everyone of the generation he was writing for was feeling.
Therefore while Berry was writing "Driving along in my automobile / My baby beside me at the wheel / Stole a kiss at the turn of a mile / My curiosity running wild" (in "No Particular Place To Go") Morrison would express the same feeling (in "Moonlight Drive") by "Let's swim to the moon / Let's climb through the tide / Penetrate the evening / That the city sleeps to hide."
Both Berry and Morrison were writing about their age. While Berry's was essentially one of pretend innocence, Morrison's was one of pretend romance.
There's no mistaking what Chuck's up to in his song (if only he can get out of his seat belt); nor is there in Morrison's—only the latter is making love on a deserted beach ("Goin' down, down, down") which was at the time the hippie dream, latterly annexed by the ad-man….
["Horse Latitudes"] is almost a play in itself, with stage directions: "Poise / Delicate / Pause / Consent." Against its almost John Cage style electronics backing, it's the finest example of Morrison's poetry.
But the outstanding cut of "Strange Days" is "When The Music's Over." This cut saw them moving into the mainstream "protest" vein. And it's the least convincing of Morrison's stances.
The lyric starts with "What have they done to the earth?" and ends with "We want the world and we want it / Now / Now? / Now…." The song itself is a magnificent example of the light/dark aspect of Morrison, but I'm of the opinion that he had little interest in revolution and thus that particular section was inserted more for dramatic effect than for any other reason….
The success of the singles—"Hello I Love You,"… and "The Unknown Soldier"—may well have stopped them from going on a limb.
The next two studio albums, "Morrison Hotel" and "The Soft Parade" compound this view; although Morrison's lyrics are as good as ever, the songs themselves are very poppy.
The exception is the title track of "The Soft Parade" which gives further insight into the writer….
The Doors came back with their best album ever "L.A. Woman." It's quintessential Morrison and quintessential Doors….
Michael Oldfield, "The Doors: Sexual Theatre of the Macabre," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), October 20, 1973, p. 41.
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