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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (125 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Greil Marcus Narrator: Ray Porte Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The best critic of popular culture in America considers the attraction of the Doors, which has endured despite the band’s short life, sampling the lasting songs and legendary performances that made Jim Morrison and his band rock ’n’ roll legends.

A fan from the moment the Doors’ first album took over KMPX, the revolutionary FM rock ’n’ roll station in San Francisco, Greil Marcus saw the band many times at the legendary Fillmore Auditorium and the Avalon Ballroom in 1967. Five years later it was all over. Forty years after singer Jim Morrison was found dead in Paris and the group disbanded, one could drive from here to there, changing from one FM pop station to another, and be all but guaranteed to hear two, three, four of the Doors’ songs in an hour—every hour. Whatever the demands in the music, they remained unsatisfied, in the largest sense unfinished, and absolutely alive. There have been many books on the Doors. This is the first to bypass their myth, their mystique, and the death cult of both Jim Morrison and the era he was made to personify and focus solely on the music. All these years later, it is a new story.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Nobody reads a song like Greil Marcus, whose prose is as passionate and omnivorous as the music he loves. Here he travels by way of Thomas Pynchon, Pop Art and Charles Manson to bring the chaotic, majestic, death-haunted Doors back to doomed and haunting life.”

    Salman Rushdie, Booker Prize–winning author

  • “No one thinks or writes like Greil Marcus. He has a genius for putting the aural dream-language of music into words, for making you ‘hear’ songs you thought you knew as if for the first time. Not just hear but, as he puts it, ‘feel on your skin’ well after the song is over. Because ‘the story it’s telling is still going on.’”

    Mary Gaitskill, author of Bad Behavior

  • “I can’t remember why I skipped the Doors the night they played at my high school, but Greil Marcus’ new book pours salt into that old wound. No one pays better attention to the implications of the spaces between notes, elevating those spaces to monuments, and making the songs as strange and important as the first time you heard them. His defense of popular culture has never been stronger or more welcome.”

    Michael Tolkin, author of The Return of the Player

  • “Mr. Marcus’ acute and ardent new book…[is] among his best…Mr. Marcus’ achievement in The Doors is to isolate and resurrect this band’s best music and set it adrift in a swirling and literate cultural context…The Doors will never mean to me what they mean to Mr. Marcus. But this book means more to me than most rock books.”

    New York Times

  • “Greil Marcus is an American original whose reflections and digressions are always thought-provoking.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “‘Writing about music is like dancing about architecture,’ goes a famously derisive quote whose provenance is mysterious but which is often attributed to Elvis Costello. Greil Marcus’ body of work stands as a repudiation of that quote as well as, perhaps, its embodiment…While he’s unsparing in his criticism of the band’s lesser work, Marcus holds out the possibility that at their best, the Doors hit on something much greater than themselves.”

    The Daily 

  • “[A] fine new book…Published on the anniversary of the band’s last album and its singer’s death in Paris, the book comes to grips with the Doors without being derailed by the legacy of the egomaniac behind the microphone…Marcus is America’s greatest living cultural observer because he’s less interested in whether a CD or movie is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ than what it contributes to a larger picture…His passage on ‘Light My Fire’ is the best ever written about a record that most people barely can hear in an old way anymore let alone a new one.”

    Los Angeles Magazine

  • “When Marcus is full-on into ecstatic writing mode, spending several pages at a time detailing the most minuscule subtleties of a performance—and this book is all about the Doors as a performing band, more than as writers or icons—the rush is more than contagious…The way Marcus is able to construct an engaging narrative out of a tune that was recorded on a lousy cassette recorder in the middle of an ancient auditorium produces small miracles of revelatory rock writing…And, suddenly, Marcus does make you remember what an anomaly their particular brand of noir was in the late 60s…along with how few of today’s Phish bootlegs will be prompting entire books in the 2050s. Marcus is just the discriminating wheat-from-chaff separator the Doors have long been in need of to reconfirm their legend among the intelligentsia.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “With an astounding breadth of knowledge, Marcus unmasks The Doors in his latest missive from the cultural trenches.”

    San Antonio Express-News

  • “A relentlessly beautiful and insightful evaluation of the music of the Doors…An impressive tribute to ‘the revolt the Doors momentarily embodied, and acted out,’ as well as to Jim Morrison’s artistic attempt to move beyond the hatred he felt for the band’s pop success.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Marcus’ books have always combined a historian’s scrupulousness with facts with an alertness to the larger-than-life dimensions of what British critic Nik Cohn once called ‘Superpop…the image, hype and beautiful flash of rock’n’roll music.’ As rock’s first self-conscious mythographers, the Doors are such a perfect subject for this approach that it makes you wonder why Marcus waited so long to write a book about them…The triumphant sections of The Doors re-create the sensation of hearing these songs for the first time. There’s a thrilling blow-by-blow account of ‘The End,’ two great takes on different ‘Light My Fire’ performances, and many marvelous evocations of particular passages of playing…The closer that Marcus sticks to the music, the better; he draws strength from its inexhaustible vigor.”


  • “Marcus minutely dissects the Doors and their songs in his familiar bombastic yet mellifluous style.”


  • “It’s a passionate book, with Marcus focusing on fifteen or so songs in the Doors’ canon, combining a whole lot of close listening with an erudition alternately staggering and bewildering. Marcus clearly loves the Doors, but not unreservedly.”


  • “Marcus eagerly strips the Doors of the psychedelic clichés that have attached to them…[His] enthusiasm is often infectious.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Andrew Price | 1/30/2014

    " I love the doors and many of the writers other books. That said he seemed to be struggling a bit here with any real point, purpose or any real new insight. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Gary Pilkington | 1/20/2014

    " A good read. I have always enjoyed Greil Marcus' work especially his earlier years in Rolling Stone. His solid writing and my love of the Doors were what drew me to read this book. The book really says more about Marcus' relationship with the Doors' music than anything but it was still interesting to read about them through his filter. Doors fans will enjoy it, not sure if people who are not Doors fans will get a whole lot out of it though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Phil Overeem | 1/2/2014

    " Despite cannibalizing a lot of his past writing and barely surviving a passage where he breaks down a Morrison "blow job" stage interlude (yuck--why???), Marcus succeeds here in many ways. A band that promised much and couldn't quite deliver; a decade that promised much and didn't quite deliver; a front man who despite being a huge asshole and drunk and a hugely bad poet STILL can't quite be dismissed; some GREAT songs that sent bolts through listeners quite unlike any since--Greil does it all justice. And passes my A#1 test for books such as these: makes me want to listen harder. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Angie Strunk | 12/7/2013

    " The book was odd and rambling, much like the Doors music "

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About the Author
Author Greil Marcus

Greil Marcus is the author of Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus, When That Rough God Goes Riding, The Shape of Things to Come, Mystery Train, Dead Elvis, In the Fascist Bathroom, Double Trouble, Like a Rolling Stone, and The Old, Weird America. With Werner Sollors he is the editor of A New Literary History of America. Since 2000 he has taught at Princeton and Berkeley, in Minnesota, and at the New School in New York. His column Real Life Rock Top 10 appears regularly in the Believer. He has lectured at University of California, Berkeley, the Whitney Museum of Art, and Princeton University. He lives in Berkeley.