On the surface, it wouldn’t seem like these two bands have a lot in common, but look beyond that: These mainstays of classic rock radio into a Deathmatch were both from LA, did mountains of drugs, and screwed anything that crossed their paths. Both were laughed at by the critics but still loved by millions of people whose tastes haven’t changed since they were old enough to know better. Both had good guitarists, shitty drummers, and lyrics that alternated between pomposity and narcissistic misogyny. So which group is more evil? Leave it to the Popdose staff to answer the question. It’s a Popdose Deathmatch: The Lizard King vs. The Cryptkeeper. Let’s get ready to…ah, fuck it.
Scott Malchus: The Doors.
Michael Parr: I knew I liked you guys for a reason! I give the nod to The Doors.
Dan Wiencek: Interesting conundrum, in that I hadn’t realized they had so much in common until you pointed it out.
I was about to set out on a long mental accounting of each band’s relative (few) strengths and weaknesses to arrive at some kind of objective conclusion. But then a thought came to me that settled the issue immediately:
I fucking hate Jim Morrison.
Yes, he was good-looking and charismatic. Yes, he had a decent rock-caliber baritone until he blew it to shreds on whiskey and dope smoking. But god, do I hate his preening, self-satisfied, posturing, faux-mystic, self-absorbed, one-dimensional, dickhead, can’t-hold-his-liquor, leather-pants-wearing pretentious douchey ass. How I wish I could have been there to see Janis Joplin knock him out cold with that whiskey bottle. Don Henley may be a pompous prick and Glenn Frey a cheap shill, but they are not even in the same league of annoying as Morrison.
Brian Boone: Jim Morrison is on the surface more evil, because of all the drugs and calculated menace, and lizard king bullshit, but at the end of the day he was essentially a smug, pretentious college freshman who read half of “On the Road” and/or Nietzsche and fancied himself a genius poet philosopher. The rest of the Doors however: decent musicians, wide-eyed progressives. I will never question the talent of Ray Manzarek.
This is the first and last time I will ever defend the Doors.
Eagles, however, ALL of them are pretentious jackasses. Except Joe Walsh, of course, the Wes Borland of the Eagles, in that he was way too good and likable to be hanging around with such tools. However, because they extol a lifestyle that didn’t exist that nobody really wanted or asked for – yuppies pretending to be cowboys – they had to have had some sort of cynicism at least or witchcraft at work to convince 29 million people to buy a copy of their greatest hits album. Plus, the whole lacking a definite article in their name thing.
Dw. Dunphy: On the weights scale, the Eagles have far more songs I can listen to without wanting to commit Hari Kiri than the Doors. There are few bands that I can see large numbers of people appreciating and wonder, why the hell are you enjoying this?
David Medsker: I read Don Felder’s book a year or so ago, and will never look at the rest of the Eagles the same way again. On the other hand, I think dying was the best career move Jim Morrison ever made, and time ultimately would have outed him for the hack that he was. The Eagles are horrible people, but I don’t hope to go the rest of my life without hearing another one of their songs. The Doors, however, could disappear from history, and the only thing I’d miss would be that mash-up with Blondie that came out a few years ago. Evil, thy name is The Doors.
Dunphy: YES. GHP’s “Rapture Riders”
Robin Monica Alexander: Wow, seriously? I had no idea there was so much Doors hatred in the world. Strange Days? Would happily listen to it anytime. Never cared much for the Eagles; I suppose I have avoided hating them by simply avoiding them. As for their relative merits as people, I can’t judge, though I will grant that Morrison was obviously a pain in the ass; however, he was, at least, an entertaining pain.
Jeff Giles: The Doors are the most overrated band of all time, but – much as I’d like to punch him in the sack for making it – Brian has a point. Although Morrison was the worst kind of rock ‘n’ roll “poet,” the other guys in the band clearly thought they were reaching for something important. The Eagles were better musicians from a technical standpoint, and certainly superior craftsmen, but you never got the sense that they were living and dying for their art.
On the other hand, if Morrison had lived, I think he would have started making shitty, self-important solo records long before Henley.
Dunphy: See, I think Morrison would have stopped recording and would have moved to become a “writer,” in the tradition of Ginsburg, Kerouac, or Jewel.
Wiencek: Well, he pretty much couldn’t sing by “L.A. Woman” anyway.
Giles: Definitely Jewel. But I think he would have popped up once a decade or so to deliver something like Henley’s godawful Inside Job, too.
Alexander: Think I’ll go spin my (vinyl) copy of Strange Days right now.
Wiencek: If I had to pick one individual from either band that I actually sort of like or at least feel compassion for, it would be Robby Krieger, a good guitarist and songwriter who endured the indignity of not only working with Morrison but of having most people erroneously credit Morrison for the work that he (Krieger) did. How many times do you suppose Krieger has had to say, “No, *I* wrote ‘Light my Fire'”?
I suppose Manzarek may be entitled to points for producing X. But from the interviews I’ve seen with the man, he’s a complete tool, mainly preoccupied with proving that Morrison wasn’t quite as big an asshole as everyone else who knew him says he was.
Jack Feerick: Absolutely echoing Jeff on the musicianship front. Musically, the Doors were a garage band with delusions of grandeur; the Eagles were better players, and had better tunes.
I don’t know if I buy the “living and dying for your art” argument, though. One thing that keeps coming up in our AM Gold write-ups is that it’s possible for Great Art to be made by people who punch the clock, sing what they’re told to sing, and collect their checks, even as any individual Drifter or Coaster may be eminently replaceable.
What I object to in the Eagles is their hypocrisy. The Doors WANTED you to think they were evil; they cast themselves as outsiders and never craved respectability. The Eagles, on the other hand, behaved like assholes personally and professionally, and then had the balls to present themselves as moralists. There’s a deep and distasteful irony to a band whacked out of their skulls on Bolivian Marching Powder lecturing their audiences on the dangers of drugs and drink, people who are personally duplicitous and hateful writing little sermon-songs about the evils of superficiality and lying. Don Henley, especially once his solo career started, climbed way up onto that high horse, and has so far resisted any attempts to bring him down.
Giles: Yeah, that was a poor choice of words on my part, but I couldn’t get at what I was trying to say. Put another way, as much as I loathe the Doors’ music, there’s still a certain clumsy fire in the performances. The Eagles were always technicians first – the whole Laurel Canyon thing was a means to an end, a timely pose.
Will Harris: I’m going to go with the Eagles. As pretentious as Jim Morrison could be, I’ve never gotten tired of listening to the Doors’ music…possibly because I don’t listen it to it all that often, but that’s beside the point. When I got stuck listening to AOR for hours on end during one of my first jobs, it only took about two days before my gag reflex kicked in every time an Eagles song came on. In another time and in a context where they weren’t being force-fed to me, I might’ve been able to appreciate their music a bit better, but as it stands, I’ve got several Doors CD in my collection and not even so much as an Eagles best-of.
Chris Holmes: I’ll call this a draw. I don’t really know enough about the Eagles as people to let it influence my views on their music – which, by the way, I never really warmed up to all that much. Besides, my music collection would be vastly smaller were I to exclude all the assholes from it.
As for the Doors, I love them without reservation. Maybe it’s the inner 13-year-old in me, but I can listen to them any day. So what if Morrison was a complete choad? He was pretty typical of his age group for that time if you ask me. He just had a larger audience.
Giles: The choad argument is valid, and I’d respond by saying that my hatred of Morrison and the Doors’ music has nothing to do with personal conduct – it’s all about the pompous nonsense they committed to vinyl.
Holmes: I could probably come up with a good mixtape of non-douchey Doors songs.
Giles: I dare you to try and put together a mixtape that will allow me to listen to the Doors without remembering all the guys I knew in high school who wouldn’t shut up about how, like, profound “The End” really is.
Holmes: Alright Giles, have at it.
Jason Hare: It’s hard for me to be bothered by the Eagles’ pretension when I hear the tight harmonies in “Seven Bridges Road.” Those voices knew how to work seamlessly together, and that’s not an easy feat by any means.
Matt Springer: I don’t know much about the history of the Eagles, and only a passing bit about the history of the Doors. But I’m Team Doors all the way.
I gotta say I’m mystified by the Doors hatred too. I’d never call them one of my favorite bands but I think they’re pretty damn listenable. I love piano and organ players so I could just listen to Ray Manzarek play all day. I don’t get the idea that they’re just a step up above garage band either; whether it’s feel or technique, I think Manzarek especially is a pretty damned great keyboardist. It’s also often struck me how, even though they’re at such divergent points on the pop spectrum, the Attractions are essentially the Doors with maybe better chops and a much better frontman.
The Eagles always seemed so calculated that it’s hard to even get into their music, except as some kind of clinical attempt to manufacture hit records. It’s like being moved by a math problem–not impossible, but incredibly difficult.
Dunphy: Exposure is a major factor. In the NY area radio realm, you get force-fed Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Guns ‘n Roses, Led Zeppelin, U2, Led Zeppelin, some Beatles, the Doors and Led Zeppelin. The Eagles show up from time to time, but they don’t seem to be presented with them as though you’re supposed to like them.
Giles: I think a lot of the hatred is probably just backlash. The cult around the Doors is huge and always has been. Maybe if Val Kilmer had starred in a movie about Elvis Costello, people would feel the same way about him.
Wiencek: The movie “The Doors” is a reason to hate Oliver Stone, not Jim Morrison.
Dunphy: One reason to like the Eagles: They covered Tom Waits before everyone was covering Tom Waits.
Wiencek: Say what you will about Don Henley, he had the balls to go on stage with Mojo Nixon and sing “Don Henley Must Die.”
Giles: Naturally. It’s a song about him.
Springer: Sounds like it really does boil down to the Cult of Morrison, then. I get what everyone’s saying.
It’s funny trying to look back through history at these bands, not that anyone else here is old enough to have a contemporary experience with the Doors’ music (*cough*LIFTON*cough*). I definitely remember the Doors being on heavy rotation on WCKG, Chicago’s classic rock station while I was in high school, and probably WLUP, which was more of a “generic cock rock” station that skewed toward Van Halen and other 1970s bands rather than the stuff from the 1960s. I’m sure I had friends who were pretentously obsessed with the Doors, come to think of it; I just never had the good fortune to get trapped into any conversations about how “deep” Jim Morrison was.
Dave Lifton: My response to “Morrison’s a poet, man” was always, “Yeah, a shitty one.” Not understanding that poetry could be either good or bad, they usually shut up after that.
Giles: The wadded-up shit in Shel Silverstein’s jeans was more profound than anything Morrison had to say.
Dunphy: “They sang about war and metaphysical stuff, man.” So did Black Sabbath. And every metal head since 1992 tried to pass off the lyrics to War Pigs as their own in creative writing class.
Springer: I gotta admit, part of my negativity toward the Eagles is non-musical. I identify them with really paving the way toward these obscene arena and stadium shows where these baby boomer nostalgia acts can command a couple hundred bucks a ticket to trot out their hits and a few new tunes from a token “new release.” I may have the timing off but that’s what they’re attached to in my mind.
Yet I find it much harder to hate the Rolling Stones. No idea why.
Wiencek: I think you have it dead-on. “Hell Freezes Over” basically started the whole thing. I saw the Stones on the Steel Wheels tour, and whatever you think of that album, at least it’s a *real album*, not just a thrown-together excuse to sell concert tickets.
Springer: I always assume it’s to fill a void in their souls. Same reason I paint the clowns.
So, dear readers. You’ve heard the arguments and gotten some very disturbing imagery in the process. Now make your decision.