The album has an original cover. It is the top of a pair of jeans with a gimmick zipper done by Andy Warhol. You grab the zipper with trebling hands, and pull down slowly to reveal OH NO! It’s Jim Morrison! Why you sly dog, you, Jim, and after all the trouble you’ve been through!
Warm blooded animals seem to loath reptilian forms of life. That might have been the reason for the incredible wellsprings of disgust that washed over the Doors, who were almost universally loved, after Jim Morrison proclaimed himself to be the Lizard King. No other rock group went so dramatically from a position of admiration to sheer hatred in so short a time as did the Doors. Something about them must have just rubbed people the wrong way.
It couldn’t have been the music. The Doors are intimately greater musicians than groups like, say, the Grateful Dead. Check it out. Take out the first Doors album, and compare it to the first THREE Grateful Dead albums. The Summer of Love was a long time ago, and those first experimental, “trippy” acid rock albums sound so quaint, and transparent that they would be funny if they weren’t so embarrassing. By contrast, the first Doors album has lost none of its hard onyx sheen that will make it a rock and roll classic. Only the Jefferson Airplane, of all the groups of the San Francisco “sound,” will have the same value in five years that they had in the beginning. The rest will fade in impact, and influence, until people will wonder what it was that made the Frisco groups the heralds of a new age, Monterey Pop and the trips festival not withstanding.
The Doors might have been treated with disdain because they were from Los Angeles, which seems to hang like a pall of smoke over all the bands that start out there. The Byrds, Love and The Doors were all hurt in the minds of the intelligentsia, for having the crass lack of taste to actually like ol’ Rip Off City.
It might have been Jim Morrison’s sometimes-silly apocalyptic poetic lyrics. Thousands of flower children, and their intellectual cohorts, who were trying to save the worlds through love, were put off by that spunk in his black shirt and pants made of leather of an unknown lamb, or whatever it was singing about killing his father, raping his mother, throwing animals out of boats in the midst’s of horrible storms, walking in streets with blood up to his knees, and so on.
Their image was definitely wrong. I remember seeing them on television only once on a rock survey show hosted by Murray the K, back in 1967. After a half of stars, meadowlands and velour caftans, the Doors came on looking like a road gang and completely ruined the effect. We used to hear strange rumors of the Doors forsaking acid for heroin. And this was at a time when Timothy Leary was still stomping the Ivy League circuit. Of course, later when all the superstars were using cocaine, and heroin, everybody was scandalized to find out that Jim Morrison had turned into a beer hound.
What kind of sex symbol can a group have once the lead singer has grown a full beard and a beer belly? That would be like John Wayner with his toupe off, or Iggy Stooge with a partial plate. If Papst Blue Ribbon Beer was smart, they would sign up the Doors for a whole sense of commercials. They could increase sales by as much as a hundred present. Mostly by me.
“L.A. Woman” is the last album of the…