The Doors' Top Songs From All the Albums

With Jim Morrison, poetry made the song

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While Jim Morrison was still alive, the Doors released only 6 albums recorded in the studio. Similar to the situation with Hendrix, whose recorded output was about the same, it makes for an interesting discussion of what is the Doors best album, and what are the Doors' top songs. Each record is a world of its own, and each one is very different in mood, intent, effect, and overall song quality. Each album also has at least 2 classic songs that would appear on any "best of" list. But there is little doubt about which of the 6 is the Doors' best album.

The Doors
The first album was a labor of love by the newly-signed band, and it remains their best. They had many songs to choose from for their debut, but strangely enough thay decided to put 2 covers of songs written by others on the first album. Maybe they wanted to stretch what they had on hand so that the second album was mostly done, or maybe they just wanted to show their chops. But while they are not Doors songs, Backdoor Man and The Alabama Song fit right in with the mood of darkness, experimentation, ecstacy, and abandonment. They illustrate the dictum given by William Blake, Morrison's favorite poet, who said "better murder an infant in its cradle than nurse an unacted desire," and "the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom."

Morrison also quoted Blake directly in the song Endless Night, one of the best Doors songs. The first side of the album is very nearly perfect, with Break On Through, Soul Kitchen, and Crystal Ship the best at establishing the territory that would be explored - unfortunately, Light My Fire has been played to death and thus lost some of its splendor, but it fits right in. Side two has a bit more second-tier songs that were still masterpieces, but nothing compares to The End - at the top of the list of the Doors top songs. It has no equal in rock and roll, and still manages to send chills down listener's  spines, especially in the uncensored version on the Perception box set.

The Rest
The second album, Strange Days, was of a piece mood-wise with the first, but had a couple of missteps. Still, there is nothing else in the rock canon to match Love Me Two Times, Moonlight Drive, My Eyes Have Seen You, Horse Latitudes, and When The Music's Over. These songs are other-worldly, cinematic in their power to evoke an alien landscape where lovers meet on moonlit beaches and strange rituals are enacted. Waiting For the Sun was the third record, and was originally intended to have an a side-long piece called Celebration of the Lizard. That didn't work out, but the album still has that moonlit strangeness of the first 2 albums. The standout songs are Not to Touch the Earth (Spanish Caravan, showcasing Krieger's flamenco guitar, and Five To One, a concert staple and generation gap tour de force that manages to inspire and instill fear at the same time.

With The Soft Parade, the Doors entered a slump of sorts. Apparently Morrison was running dry, and Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek supplied more material for this album than on the others. Wild Child and Touch Me belong in any list of the Doors top songs, but much of the album is forgettable. Then it was back to basics with Morrison Hotel, a stripped-down live in the studio affair. The unforgettable Roadhouse Blues expresses the classic Doors philosophy of life within a blues framework, while Peace Frog is a look back at how the band used to sound, and pretty catchy as well.

The final album, LA Woman, is a near masterpiece, marred by the cheesy hit song Love Her Madly and a couple of sub-par blues run-throughs. But the best of the record can stand proudly in a list of the Doors' top songs. Been Down So Long, The Cars Hiss By My Window, LA Woman, and the masterpiece Riders on the Storm carry the mood of the Doors forward and establish them as one of the best rock bands ever. Within a short time, the band would have called it quits and Morrison would die at 27 in a bathtub in a Paris apartment, another unwilling member of the forever 27 club.