Jim Morrison Michael Watts - Essay

Michael Watts

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["L.A. Woman"] stands as [The Doors'] nadir, a spunkless, sterile effort that sounds as if it's been put out just so's everyone won't forget the name, and of course, the name is Jim Morrison. The Doors have always had two things going for them: an ability to throw some catchy riffs together in a brief context …; and Jim Morrison, who was built up as America's answer to Mick Jagger. Morrison, as Mick Farren pointed out in this paper last week, has always been a mediocre singer, but he's disguised it to an extent by his ability to come on like some rock Messiah.

Michael Watts, "Stale and Sterile Mister Morrison," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), July 10, 1971, p. 43.

What ["Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine"] shows is that the Doors changed very little in the four years between "The Doors" and "L.A. Woman." But what always made them sound so fresh was not their musical inventiveness but Morrison: his superb voice and unique talent for writing lyrics rich in imagery—"Strange eyes fill strange rooms / Voices will signal their tired end / The hostess is grinning / Her guests sleep from sinning."… While all their contemporaries moved to pastures new, The Doors—and particularly Morrison—were still being outrageous, still starting off numbers with lines like "The human race is dying out …" But the revolutionary Doors, who once had said: "We want the world and we want it / Now!" and: "They got the guns but / We got the numbers / Gonna win, yeah / We're takin' over!" became discredited. So much so, that when Jim sang "When The Music's Over" on "Absolutely Live" he had to scream: "Shut up! Now is that any way to behave at a rock and roll concert?" to the noisy audience. Events overtook them. Those who had shouted out the anthem had now got the guns and were taking over. Then it was The End for Jim, the Lizard King. But he did leave one message for posterity, a message that aptly closes "Weird Scenes"—"The music is your only friend. Until the end."

"Golden Doors," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), March 11, 1972, p. 26.