Thursday, May 1, 2014

Top 5 Songs by The Doors

Talk about a tough one.  What a band!  What a catalog!  So many great albums loaded with classic tunes, and so many of these tracks are so very near and dear to my heart.  I puzzled over this a lot, and it's still so easy to second-guess my choices.  Before I drop my list, let's talk a bit about The Doors and I. 

When it comes to art, I got a head-start.  Let me rephrase that, my dad gave me a head-start when it comes to art--music, movies, and books in particular.  These are things that happened in my life:

-I read my dad's copy of Christine by Stephen King when I was 8.

-When I was 10 or 11, I was getting ready to rent My Pet Monster or something like that.  "You should try this instead," dad said, handing me Phantasm

-Also at 11, dad gave me a double-cassette (That's right, double-cassette!  That's how we rolled once upon a when) greatest hits set of The Doors.

When it comes to that last one, well, honestly I was a bit perplexed.  I didn't know who The Doors were.  It wasn't one of the things I had asked for.  I remember looking at the picture on the front and expecting something like The Monkees at worst and maybe Aerosmith or The Rolling Stones at best.  I was into Van Halen and The Beastie Boys, and it didn't seem like a fit.

And then there came The Doors.  I'm not sure that I listened to anything else that summer.  I was totally lost in the music, totally riveted by what I heard, and there followed a lifelong love of that seminal band's unique and daring approach.  At some point thereafter, dad and I watched Apocalypse Now, and it was pretty damn cool to see a legendary band's music married to such a legendary picture to magnificent effect.

Also, I feel the need to talk about the talent involved.  This was one hell of a group.  Jim and his theatrics seem to get the lion's share of the credit.  His ability and his creativity were more integral to the group's success.  Additionally, the entire band was very talented.  If one wants to make a case for either Ray or Robby being more essential to The Doors than Jim, I'm not going to object.  Ray is actually my favorite contributor, but those three guys were all totally amazing.  It's not just that they were gifted either, they were passionate about sharing those gifts.  Densmore was also a quality percussionist and songwriter, and I'm certainly not trying to insult his contributions even if I have him a rung below his peers. 

So, yeah, . . . I had a tough time with this one.  Here's what I have:

Top 5 Songs by The Doors

#5 - Five to One

This one is so intense and so powerful that it almost feels like metal.  Morrison is so on, and the whole thing smokes from start to finish.

#4 - Hello, I Love You

Are there people who don't song along when they hear this one?

#3 - Riders on the Storm

Creepy, masterful, and so incredibly vivid.  Some songs really paint a picture--this one paints a lot of them.  This is a great example of the special kind of magic that The Doors possessed.  I just don't see how anyone else could have put together something like this.

#2 - Roadhouse Blues

Rowdy and fun, this is one of my personal favorites.  This one puts a smile on my face and showcases the blues sensibilities that gave the music such an edge at times.  Of all my choices, I feel that this one is the one I'm probably placing too high on my list, but I try to be honest with my decisions.  This is where I feel this track belongs.

#1 - The End

I'm tempted to wonder how much of an influence the movie had on my love for this one, but I have to remind myself that even before dad and I watched Apocalypse Now this was my favorite track.  Why wouldn't it be?  It's positively haunting, it's equally mesmerizing, and it has such an impact on the listener.  I could be wrong, but I feel like this is the most obvious choice on the list, and I'm not going to argue the point.

. . .

Seriously, what do you think? 

Is The End an easy choice in the top slot? 

Did I go too far with my love for Roadhouse Blues? 

How did so many great songs wind up on the shelf--what about Light My Fire or L.A. Woman?  There are others, many others.  

Did I disrespect John Densmore?

I would love to hear your take on The Doors and my Top 5.  Social commentary and questions regarding my father and his parenting choices are equally helpful; the healing process is going smoothly, but talking things out never hurts.


  1. There is no Touch Me, that invalidates your list.

  2. That would probably be #1 on the list of songs by The Doors that I am most likely to sing. Honestly, my Morrison isn't all that bad. Seriously, I'm wounded by the absence of at least 3 songs on this list, and I totally understand people being upset over several tracks that I left out in the cold. This wasn't easy.

  3. OK good list for sure.

    Here is Reinholds -

    1. Touch me - I mean its poetry through and through. And it ends with "stronger than dirt" - classic.

    2. Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) - its a song I can play anytime, anywhere for anyone. It just fits in some strange way -- its my circus night life played out in song.

    3. Riders on the Storm - I think you covered that one pretty well.

    4. Spanish Caravan - this one could move up at any given time. The music really stands out for the band on this one. Another song that feels like it exists in some other land or world.

    5. Light my Fire - So I thought about this list and was not going to put it on here in the top five. But after listening to it again - well its just so damn important in so many ways. The live versions, the rebelling against the producers on Ed's show, the overplay of it. --- all of it. And in the end it still stands up pretty well.

    Side note: I love the version by Jose Feliciano -

  4. I can't wrap my head around doing this Top 5 without "The End", but I like the reasoning behind your choices.