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Greil Marcus Listens To The Doors

Music philosopher Greil Marcus listens back to The Doors and hears dread and light and Thomas Pynchon.

Members of the Doors pose for an undated publicity photo. From left; John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison. Morrison died in 1971 at age 27. (AP)

Members of the Doors pose for an undated publicity photo. From left; John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison. Morrison died in 1971 at age 27. (AP)

Everybody knows the story of Jim Morrison and The Doors.  Rock and roll’s wild child.  The band’s dark charisma.  Light My Fire.  L.A. Woman.  Break on Through.  Riders on the Storm.  .

But it’s different when music philosopher Griel Marcus tells the story.  We get The Doors plus Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Lady Gaga, The Manson Family – the existential dread of a generation.

This hour On Point: we’re listening to The Doors, with cultural critic Greil Marcus.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Greil Marcus, music journalist, cultural critic, and author of The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years.

From Tom’s Reading List

Village Voice “As is so often the case when you’re talking to Greil Marcus (or reading his writing), the route that got us to his iPhone began with something seemingly unrelated: a passage in his new book, The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, in which he defines pop culture as “the folk culture of the modern market… an unknown station playing unknown music, until both turn into secrets everyone wants to tell.” In today’s world, he thinks the iPhone has that quality.”

St. Petersburg Times “Greil Marcus had just moved, but he didn’t have any trouble finding what he was looking for amid the boxes of books and records strewn around the downstairs office of his new house in a leafy neighborhood not far from the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. He had been talking about Bob Dylan’s singing style, and how it has been ever changing through 50 years of performances, and he wanted me to hear a rendition of Like a Rolling Stone from a concert in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1966.”

The Examiner “It looks like November is going to be a good month for Doors book releases. I’ve already written about The Doors FAQ coming this November, and now, noted rock and cultural critic Greil Marcus is releasing a book in November, The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Wild Years.”

Excerpt

As the title track of the Doors last album, released in April 1971, three months before Jim Morrison died in Paris, his ideal of following in the footsteps of Rimbaud replaced by an image of Marat dead in his bathtub, “L.A. Woman” emerged over the years, until after four decades you could turn on your car radio and find all eight minutes of it still talking, jabbering, this bum on Sunset Strip going on about a woman and the city and the night as if someone other than himself is actually listening. You can hear it there, anytime—and you can hear it playing between every other line of Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 L.A. detective novel Inherent Vice, set in the spring of 1970, just before the Manson trial is about to begin, a time when, as Pynchon calls it up, the freeways eastbound from the beach towns “teemed with VW buses in jittering paisleys, primer-coated street hemis, woodies of authentic Dearborn pine, TV-star-piloted Porsches, Cadillacs carrying dentists to extramarital trysts, windowless vans with lurid teen dramas in progress inside, pickups with mattresses full of country cousins from the San Joaquin, all wheeling along together down into these great horizonless fields of housing, under the power transmission lines, everybody’s radios lasing on the same couple of AM stations.”
The book is a love letter to a time and place about to vanish: about the fear that “the Psychedelic Sixties, this little parenthesis of light, might close after all, and all be lost, taken back into darkness . . . how a certain hand might reach terribly out of darkness and reclaim the time, easy as taking a joint from a doper and stubbing it out for good.”

At the very time in which Pynchon has placed his story—about a rock ’n’ roll musician supposedly dead of a heroin overdose who turns up in his old band unrecognized by his own bandmates (“Even when I was alive, they didn’t know it was me”), a disappeared billionaire developer, a gang of right-wing thugs called Vigilant California, a criminal empire so vast and invulnerable even to speak its name is to make the earth tremble, the first, primitive, bootlegged version of the Internet, and an old girlfriend—people were already talking about the great hippie detective novel. About a dope deal, of course—and an outsider version of Philip Marlowe or Lew Archer. Roger Simon’s Moses Wine—starting out in 1973 with The Big Fix and still on the case thirty years later, wasn’t it. In 1971 Hunter Thompson played the role well in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” but soon dissolved in his own aura. Pynchon’s Doc Sportello somehow realizes the fantasy.

About to turn thirty, he lives in Gordita Beach, halfway between Hermosa Beach and El Segundo, though not on any real-life map. He thinks of himself as John Garfield; he’s the same height. On his wall is a velvet painting he bought on the street: “a Southern California beach that never was—palms, bikini babes, surfboards, the works.”

He thought of it as a window to look out of when he couldn’t deal with looking out of the traditional glass-type one in the other room. Sometimes in the shadows the view would light up, usually when he was smoking weed, as if the contrast knob of Creation had been messed with just enough to give everything an underglow, a luminous edge, and promise that the night was about to turn epic somehow.

That’s as good a description of “L.A. Woman” as any other. It has the textures of ordinary life, and everything about it is slightly off, because the epic is what it’s reaching for, but without giving itself away, without makeup, cool clothes, photo shoots, or any other trappings of Hollywood glamour. Robby Krieger’s guitar is in the front of the music, thin and loose, intricate and casual, serious and quick as thought. Jim Morrison is in the back of the sound, as if trailing the band on the street, shouting that he’s got this song for them, a new-type song for a dime, it’d be perfect, and you can see the Morrison who’s singing, a man who in 1970 did look like a bum, a huge and tangled beard, a gut hanging over his belt, his clothes stained. The voice is full of cracks and burrs, and an inspiring, crazy exuberance, a delight in being on the streets, in the sun, at night under neon, Blade Runner starring Charles Bukowski instead of Harrison Ford—this bum doesn’t shuffle down the street, he runs, stops, twirls, runs back the way he came. Maybe the city doesn’t want to see him, but he’s in love with the city and that’s the story he has to tell. He’s not blind. “Motel money, murder madness,” he muses to himself; he can see the fear the Manson gang left in the eyes of the people he passes even as they avert their eyes from his, but he’s not afraid, and he knows he’s not the killer they’re afraid of. The whole song is a chase in pieces, the guitarist tracing half circles in the air, the singer dancing in circles around him, the guitarist not seeing him, the singer not caring.


From the book The Doors by Greil Marcus. Reprinted by arrangement with PublicAffairs (www.publicaffairsbooks.com), a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2011.

Playlist

“People Are Strange” (STRANGE DAYS, 1967)
“Light My Fire” (LIVE) (THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, 1967)
“L.A. Woman” (L.A. WOMAN, 1971)
“Strange Days” (STRANGE DAYS, 1967)
“End of the Night” (THE DOORS BOX SET, 1965/1997)
“The Crystal Ship” (THE DOORS, 1967)
“The End” (LIVE) (BOOT YER BUTT! – BOOTLEGS, 2003)
Gloria” (LIVE) (LIVE AT THE MATRIX, 1967)
“Mystery Train” (LIVE) (LIVE IN PITTSBURGH, 1970)
“Take It As It Comes” (THE DOORS, 1967)
“Roadhouse Blues” [Takes 13-15] (MORRISON HOTEL, recorded: 1969)
“Queen of the Highway” (Original Version) (MORRISON HOTEL)
“Queen of the Highway” (Alternate Version) (THE DOORS BOX
“Riders On The Storm” (L.A. WOMAN, 1971)

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  • Long Time On Point Listener

    After 40 years, the music of the Doors is timeless and still being listened to by people around the world.

    You won’t be able to say that about Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Jay-Z or Justin Bieber.

    • steve

      when the music’s over….

    • nj

      You perhaps have judged too quickly.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPAmDULCVrU

    • American #1234

      I agree however, I think there may be a problem with lumping Jay-Z in there, he’s been around longer than any of the others mentioned. And honestly is a great rapper, not sure if you listen to hip hop, but you should use someone like Wocka Flocka, or any of the other one hit wonder pop hip hop artist.

  • cory.

    Music philosopher?

    • Brett

      Nice work, if you can get it!  

  • Alex

    how do you get a job like that?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      A machine makes it for you?

  • Terry Tree Tree

    I enjoyed listening to the Doors’ music, and did detect darkness in some of it. 
        Will there be a psychological evaluation of each group, or individual performer?  I know there has been a lot of analysis of Hank Williams’ music, and some others’.
        Will analysis change the enjoyment of the music?

  • Dallas

    The Doors were nothing without Morrison. That being said, The Doors would be nothing without Manzarek, Robby Krieger or John Densmore. They were a classic, unique mix of talent and personality that produced a very unique sound and concert experience.

  • john

    Dionysian eruption/sacrifice ushering in a new level of consciousness while utterly destroying the old and stagnant. Messy process.

  • Anonymous

    I lost my virginity to the Doors. In 2002.

  • Erin in Iowa

    The Doors were anti-hippies. The reason this music is still around and still affecting younger generations (me in my 30s) is because it’s truthful and not idealistic.  A kindergartener can write a love song (which is most of what’s out there today) but few can turn the truth into something beautiful the way they did.

    • john

      your understanding of what “hippies” were is understandably limited and diluted by decades of misinformation. The Doors were born from psychedelic culture and from psychedelics directly… don’t ever forget the significance of that. Hippies were at the time their only audience and devotees… if not for them The Doors would be unknown.

      • John Hamilton

        I agree. People use the term “hippies” in a generic sense, that people of that era were all the same, some kind of drugged-out zombies. The Doors were a great band among many great bands. We had an embarrassment of riches in those days. 

        During most of the Doors era I was in the Army, mostly in Germany, and just about everyone I hung out with had a Doors album, but only one guy I knew was really into them. He deserted. The anti-war, “hippie” crowd in the Army was huge, growing to about half by the time I got out in 1971. It might have been higher. It of course morphed over the years, became more open, more mutinous, and more hard drug oriented, scarily so.

        What really mattered was the sound, and that’s why I still enjoy their music. Like I said in my post above, you can make the music mean whatever you want. 

        As for the guest’s generalizations, he wouldn’t have much of a book if he didn’t exaggerate and embellish. 

      • Peter Baum

        Maybe, John, but like Frank Zappa, the Doors hardly embraced “flower power” although the hippies loved both artists.  Most bands of the time were passive in their drug-induced blissfulness.  Not the Doors, whose music was dark, sometimes angry and often confrontational.  (“Five to One,” “When the Music’s Over,” “The Unknown Soldier” for example.)  And, yes, Morrison was a druggie but did some of his best work when he traded that for booze.  I and I’m sure many other non-hippies took their music immediately upon the release of that great first album.

    • Emiller

      I think you’re really onto something here Erin and I love your closing sentence. I do think, though,that the Doors were more hippy than we often realize.

  • Rick

    Pleeeze, let’s not make more of this band than they are worth–namely the organ solo in Light My Fire. If Jim Morrison didn’t die young these guys would only be a musical footnote like Iron Butterfly and Morrison would be a lounge act or on an oldies tour. Their influence on music is minimal.

    • Matthew_H

      This has to be a troll.

      • Rick

        No Matt, I was there in the ’60s, the greatest era of rock music. Marcus “talks much but says nothing.”

        • Shekhar

          Sorry to say, but “absence of musicians claiming influence” –  does not fit the bill as a valid reason. You say we are influenced by so and so when you can copy them, the doors were original in there imperfect way. Show me any copycats…..

    • John

      The Doors would not be just a lounge act.  They wouldn’t be as bad as The Stones or Dylan or McCartney in their old rich age either.  Jim if not the others wouldn’t have let that happen.  Jim died young, that’s the bands story.  It worked out perfectly, as it were.  They most certainly would not be a “footnote like Iron Butterfly”.  Their music is what it is, no matter what age Jim died.  To deny their great influence on music is senseless.

      • Rick

        Has anyone ever heard any musician claim they were influenced by the Doors? The Beatles, yes, Van Morrison, yes, Dylan, yes–the Doors, no.

  • Roy Silver

    When
    I was a Freshman at the University of Toledo, in 1969 the Doors
    were scheduled to perform. After the incident in Miami the powers that
    be at the University and Community cancelled the concert. By doing
    this they helped to radicalize many.

  • Dan

    the DOORS Rule…..man………….Alive she cried;;;Weird scenes in the gold mine..Horse Latitudes,and Texas Radio and the big beat..cool man

  • Jay Reeg

    Thanks Greil for MASKED MAURAUDERS review/LP in 1969 and ROCK and ROLL WILL STAND book!

    Q – Morrison aaw Velvet Underground at Trip in May 1966; had fling with Nico….any comparison of the Doors and VU?   BOTH were dark!
     

  • Brittany-Norfolk,Va

    I was born in 1985, so the Doors appeal is more than nostalgia, The Doors speak (atleast for me) to a dark and beautiful rebellion. And not the popular rebellion to the status quo or politics that were going on during those times and even now, but a rebellion against neatly packaged emotion. It shows a respect to the true rawness of a full range of emotions. You can really hear how much of a loss soul Jim was in all of their music, and shows how music allows one to release feelings that one usually runs from.

  • Jymwrite

    Hi Tom!
    Thank you for linking to my Doors Examiner review in your reading list!

    Best!Jim Cherry

  • Kathleen

    I found the Doors to be romantic and yes, even erotic.  I still sing to my husband of 35 years “Come on now touch me baby..”. and then the most romantic of melodic lines ” Now, I’m gonna love you Till the heavens stop the rain, I’m gonna love you Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I”
    Nothing can beat that for a love song!

  • racman

    R U kidding me?  Talk about making a big deal about nothing. They were a pop band for goodness sakes! Monotonous and generally uninteresting. Sorry, but Morrison was no Dylan or Lennon in the lyrics department.   Oh, and next time you reference another author, please be kind and give credit. (the Hunter Thompson allusion to the 60′s being a big wave about to crest)

  • Sri

    Tom
    I treat Jim Morrison as a poet. nothing says it better for me than the line ….”No one here gets out alive”. I still listen to Doors almost every week.

  • Peter from Newton

    Read the poetry of “Horse Latitudes”. What a gift!
    Studied Jim Morrison’s writing, along with Paul Simon, in an honors english class in 1967.

  • Emiller

    One thing I find interesting about the band is that its lyrics reflect themes that are often found in harsher musical styles today like death metal, rap, etc. but the music is much more melodic and complex. Can you imagine horns in a metal-band song?

  • Eric

    We owe Mr Marcus and the other music writers of that era a debt in recognizing the greatness of the music of the time and placing it in a broader context in American culture.  But I’m disappointed to hear that 40 years hence he hasn’t been able to take off his rose colored John Lennon glasses and view a band like the Doors with a more dispassionate eye.  Sure they had a lot of great music, but I know I’m not alone in thinking that they were also responsible for creating some of the most overwrought, pretentious songs of the era. Instead of yet more myth making, it would have been interesting to hear Mr Marcus actually take a more critical view of some of the more overrated artists of the time.

    • David

      Any particular songs in mind when you talk about “pretentious”?

  • Stuart

    Living in Copenhagen, summer of 68, I became friends with the advance man (Vernon Leon Barnard) for the Doors’ first tour to Europe. I asked him what Morison was like. He looked up at the tallest building nearby and pointed. “If someone were to suddenly be there at the top of that building, for no reason, that would be Jim Morison.”

  • Anonymous

    Jim Morrison was one of countless sexy addicted sociopaths in the music business. The homoerotic fascination that some still have for him seems a bit adolescent. The Doors music was innovative for its time. It’s no longer its time. It is part of the history of music. Listening to an hour of someone verbally obsessing on one band’s music isn’t innovative radio. This sounded like The Old Stoner Hour.

    • Anonymous

      Fools rush in!!

    • strass

      ‘sexy addicted sociopaths’….’homoerotic fascination’…sounds like someone’s got delusions of being a bitter intellectual. First of all, you listened for an hour, so I guess it was interesting enough. Second, if you don’t have the attention span to think about a single artist’s work for 60 minutes, do we really care what you’re opinion is? I suppose you spend most of your music listening on shuffle mode, treating the music as aural wall paper and never really considering what you listen to and why.

      • strass

        sorry…I meant ‘your’ when I wrote ‘you’re’

  • Emiller

    Yin, yours is an aggregious example of presentism and is unjustifiably dismissive of a entire generation of people. Open your mind! Would make such gross overstatements about members of another culture? It should be the same with generations.

  • Matthew

    Calling all Doors lovers…

    If any musicians, on the casual side, are intersted in rehearsing and and making Doors music in the greater Boston area, consider e-mailing me. I do not play any instruments, but I do a fairly good Morrison in the vocals department. This would certainly be a casual thing. (My favorites are ‘I Looked At You’ and ‘Wishful, Sinful’. I just had to throw that in.) I am hard core Doors. Happy to just share thoughts on the Doors as well. auto377517(at)hushmail.com Matthew_H

  • Coyote Angel

    No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.

  • Brett

    Why does Tom mention Lady Gaga in  EVERY show involving music?!?!

  • kay

    Really? Greil Marcus may have avoided 60s sentimentality in his other work, but it shows through strong here. 2 middle-aged white men talking about a dead white man and his music. This will be like me in 30 years talking about Nirvana (I’m not white, a man, nor middle aged… right now at least.)

    • strass

      a bit knee-jerk, from one Gen-Xer to another (I assume). I don’t think he’s waxing nostalgic, so much as putting his finger on the fact that there’s something lingering and lasting about the mood and the sentiment conveyed by this band. Are they a great band? I don’t know (I lean towards Tom Waits, The Replacements, and lots imbetween), but no one sounded like them then and no one has since. And there’s a quality about them that does speak to the impending disillusionment and seediness of the death of sixties utopianism in LA. There’s nothing wrong in talking about The Doors and what made them interesting and relevant, and I don’t think there will be anything overly nostalgic about talking about Nirvana in 30 yrs…great music is worth discussing, whether Jazz, classical, or rock, long after it’s made. It would be a mistake to assume that any conversation about music made a generation ago has to be an exercise in nostalgia…you do Nirvana a disservice with that implicit assumption, and I think you’re off-the-mark giving Marcus grief for wanting to take a second look at this stuff.

  • John Hamilton

    I think this guy is full of crap. I can tell you why I like the Doors. They had a great sound. The three musicians played with mastery, and Jim Morrison had a voice for the ages. They also had great songs. 

    There wasn’t a “love crowd” and then the Doors fans. What silliness. I was in the Army in Germany for most of the Doors’ heyday, and they were among many bands that I listened to, including the Beatles, Stones, Janis Joplin, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Muddy Waters, Cream and many others. I suspect that the Doors didn’t play Monterey or Woodstock for reasons other than not fitting in. Such as Jim Morrison’s drinking.

    A perfect example of a Doors song that can be listened to purely for its beauty is Riders on the Storm, which came out after Jim Morrison died. You don’t have to go into depths of darkness to listen to it, but can just enjoy it. I have a Doors hits CD I listen to every so often, and The End is my favorite song. I enjoy it purely for its musical beauty. With any rock ‘n roll, jazz, folk meld you can make it mean anything you want. We live our own lives, and the music becomes our theme music. 

    • David

      Riders on the Storm was released in April of 1971, three months before Morrison died. He talked about the success of the album with John Densmore. Out of curiousity, do you think that “you can make it mean anything you want” applies to all poetry?  

      • John Hamilton

        Hmm. I thought he died sooner. As far as making “all poetry” mean whatever you want, sure. Meaning is derived from experience, such as the experience of reading a poem. You aren’t experiencing the writer’s experience, but your own of reading it. The meaning anything you want part is in how you experience it. 

        A good example, again, is The End. I don’t beleaguer myself with trying to figure out what Morrison “meant” by the song. I don’t care.  I don’t care about what Jim Morrison thought about anything. He drank himself to death. This was not a path to enlightenment. What I care about is if I enjoy the music, and I listen to the words and derive as much meaning for me that I can. I am thankful and honor his gift, but that’s as far as it goes. My life is what is interesting to me.

    • Jimtuzz125

      I listened to the doors from day one in high school and though i did like other bands this one was close to me.  Needless to say when i went to NAM the music was even more haunting.  Now i never did drugs and fell into a deep sleep and all that crap but the music and the darkness tells u all u need to know.  Light my fire will always be my favorite and still is but when i hear    The killer awoke before dawn………damn want to grab my m16 and go look for the enemy (and no i don’t have a 16 i was a compter scientist for bell labs so don’t call the fbi on me !!!

    • Guyauxchristiane

      jai aussis vecus en allemagne et tes analises sons corecte aimer un groupe ne veux pas dire sindentifier au croupe

  • Tom Adams

    yada yada yada. Not a big fan of overly academic assessments of rocknroll freaks who used to piss in hotel hallways, but whatever…I’m a huge fan of the Doors & Jim Morrison …whether they were a bunch of California bozos following their Dionysian shaman leader or not. Their music was great and it helped me navigate my way through the shlock-rock of my youth.

    To quote another real rocker:  “It’s only RocknRoll but I like it, like it, yes I do”

  • Stillin

    Scarygood.

  • Wheatsheaf

    the guy’s an author and says supposebly not supposedly?

    • strass

      he’s an author…not an intern looking for typos, you putz.

  • Alan

    The comment from “Denny,” my Vietnam vet brother, hit the bull’s-eye.  I returned to “The World” in early February, 1968, and soon concluded that the USA I had left had disappeared, replaced by a sort of dark circus.  (Naturally, part of my view was colored by the dark circus I had left overseas.)  It was difficult to comprehend until I heard The Doors.  For the next year I fashioned a “way,” if you will, from The Nam and The Doors.  Later, like my bro Denny, I left The Doors behind me, but I have never forgotten their dark, disjointed message, a genuine description then of the rising tide of decadence in our nation.  Did they see what was and what was coming?  Look around you.  Ten years of war and three years of recession have not seemed to capture the attention of the fabled Baby Boomers.  “The future’s uncertain, and the enemy’s always near.”

    Denny, if you happen to read this:  Keep the faith, bro.  Hoa binh.

  • Père Lachaise

    A small detail, but I love hearing the music in the background while Tom and Greil are discussing it.

    Also, I always forget how great this band was. So darkly appropriate for the times. And when I remember, I’m so glad I can go back and listen to their many brilliant songs.

  • Barry3216

    I can only speak for myself, but the Doors is the one band I cannot live without. I listen to their albums incessantly, almost exclusively, in my car, and I never tire of it. Other bands of the era– with few exceptions– and most contemporary output ,lacks the gravitas and weight of the best of the Doors offerings. Variety, substance, talent….

  • Billyboy

    Greil Marcus, music journalist, cultural critic, and author of The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years is the most pompous blowhard to ever write about rock and roll. 

  • Matterlenbusch

    Loved the discussion on a band I’ve loved since my early teenage years a few decades ago.  I appreciate On Point’s academic dissection of issues, especially when it’s something lewd and brooding like The Doors.  Bravo to Tom and Greil!  Great nod towards “Crystal Ship”- a gem in their canon. The debate on how “good” they were always fascinates me.  I recently read Patti Smith’s book “Just Kids” where she recalls watching The Doors perform in NYC and quickly feels she can see through Legend Lizard King, yet didn’t dismiss him.  I wanted her to be electrified by them since I respect her musical judgements.  She gave that coveted yes-at-first-sight to The Velvet Underground instead.  Regardless of how good The Doors were or not I still move deeply to their records and adore the Venice-Beach-drifting/Shaman-in-leather-and-conchos/American-Poet/Mr-Mojo-Risin/rock-deity caricature he possesses in our pop culture today.  “It’s only Rock and Roll.”
     
    Terrific On Point episode!

  • PA Girl

    Wow!  Many great memories from one special summer at college in 1980.  My sorority sisters, a couple of fraternity friends and I lived by The Doors that summer!  Still enjoy their music — it takes me back!

  • http://www.glasspoole.com Joanne Glasspoole

    Tom, may I reprint this on http://www.jimmorrisonproject.com?

  • Anonymous

    Greil Marcus is the most overrated blowhard rock critic ever.  He is one of a long line of Rolling Stone writers who rarely get it right.  I mean it is easy to like the Doors. But look at his past writings – the guy is a hack – part of Wenner’s cabel of know-nothings who elevate crap like the Ramones and Patty Smith into artists worthy of the Rock Hall, where Wenner unfairly controls the board of directors. My approach to Rolling Stone is that anything they like I generally find to be crap.  Rolling Stone ended for me when Ben Fong Torres left and Wenner moved to New York to become a celebrity culture whore, worshipping at the grave of Madonna, etc.  Tom why do you put this hack on? He completely bores me. 

    • kwillie

      You, sir, are so out of touch with music of any type, of how and why it moves people, that this rebut is likely a waste of time.  If you don’t understand Greil Marcus’s perspective, fair enough, but to scortch it as worthless speaks only of your limited perspective, not that of others.  Then to casually dismiss the Ramones and Patti Smith, this seals the deal way beyond any further words I can offer.

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  • Rich

    Just this summer I read Inherent Vice and I made that same association being a fan of the Doors. The way that Pynchon paints the images of the beaches of California are the images typically associated with these sounds, and we can hear these Images every time we listen to the Doors today.

  • kwillie

    The Doors still have a mystique, which leads to their music “holding up” with limitless longevity, for reasons hard to define.  One can not “hear” many other previous bands in their music, and there have been very few imitators since.  The Doors had a unique sound assisted by some hot producers at that time in music.  The Doors started with limited musical talent, but one unified vision, and an imperfect leader with a perfect destiny.  This added up to a form of magic.  As mentioned in the interview, the songs reflected 60′s politics, and California sub culture,  without overt reference. Several songs reveal Morrison, at times, painfully out of tune, voice flat or straying to strange places. This was likely noticed later, but legend has it he was nowhere to be found, or was unfit for additional takes.  The music from that era had many bizarre and unique story lines. The Doors stand out as one of the most compelling.  Thank you Greil for your insights.  You are a fine communicator.  And thanks to the Doors for being so beautifully wierd, and to the surviving members for running with it.      

  • Slipstream

    A great band (well, sometimes anyway) and an interesting discussion.  Marcus provides insights and interesting phrases to help us understand the experience.  They were brilliant, but Morrison was a magnificently self-destructive individual.  My 2 cents is that the first album was an all-out masterpiece, still sounds fantastic, the rest was aaahhh…mixed.

  • Sarah

    Does anyone recall the book Greil Marcus mentions about 1/3 of the way into the interview? He says he read it about 4 or 5 times – about “the collapse” of the ’60s, as Manson is on trial, etc. I gotta check it out!

  • Bev

    Greil Marcus, you are amazing. I would love to be able to listen in on a blog you’re writing. I’m in the middle of “Like a Rolling Stone” and totally absorbed, 10 or more Dylan biographies later.

  • TJPhoto40

    I don’t find the comments by Marcus in this interview either articulate or insightful much of the time. He keeps saying that to be a strong artist you can’t “care,” but that makes no sense, even when he finally refines to saying that you can’t be concerned with the outcome.  Apparently, the book is similarly dissolute and lacking in real insights.  He shifts around in random, unfocused description and then quotes someone, only to say this was “as good a description of ‘LA Woman’ as any”.  Uh, does that mean none of them are more incisive or correct?  I like the Doors, and have since they first emerged, but this writing about them is pretty sloppy and uninteresting jabber.  

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Sep 15, 2014
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President Barack Obama meets with Congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, to discuss options for combating the Islamic State. (AP/Evan Vucci)

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