The Lizard King

In the 80s Elektra Records came to the brilliant realization that they could make a lot of money off their back catalog by making their older artists seem trendy. And so cocaine and hookers were passed out to radio programmers and music journalists, resulting in the famous Rolling Stone cover with the picture of Jim Morrison and the caption “He’s Hot, He’s Sexy, And He’s Dead.”

I’ve always found the Doors to be interesting musically but I’ve always thought that far too much was made out of Morrison, to the detriment of the band. His voice was good, at least in the band’s early days, but Morrison’s lyrics never appealed to me. He became such a spectacle that the music became secondary. And I’m not really qualified to pass judgement on his hotness.

Nevertheless the music of the Doors has spawned quite a collection of covers. Here are a few.

The Lettermen “Hello, I Love You/Touch Me” (The Doors)
It’s cool, it’s lounge-y, it’s completely nonthreatening. It’s the Lettermen at their best.

Stevie Wonder “Light My Fire” (The Doors)
Judging by my iTunes library this is by far the most-covered Doors song. I’ve got nine different versions of it. Parts of this one sound almost like an Isaac Hayes song, what with all the strings and horns. But then there’s the harmonica solo that makes it all Stevie.

Johnny Hollow “People Are Strange” (The Doors)
This song does a great job of capturing the alienation in the lyrics. The strings are alternately low and menacing and high and screechy, and the vocals swirl.

McMinnville High School Stage Band “Soul Kitchen” (The Doors)
This is, without a doubt, the most inevitable high school marching band song ever written.

The Doors “Crawling King Snake” (John Lee Hooker)
The Doors could be a very good blues band when they put their minds to it. The musicians fall into a hypnotic groove and Morrison sounds both sleazy and macho without making himself the focus of the song. This is probably my favorite song that the Doors ever recorded.

4 thoughts on “The Lizard King

  1. BM

    Someone once asked, “Jim Morrison or Lou Reed?” to which I replied, Ray Manzarek. Amazing musician and I don’t think they could have made it without him.

  2. Steve McI

    I’ve got several McMinnville Doors covers. I wonder if the music director was a Doors fan or if he was just trying to keep the kids’ attention.

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