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Rob Sheffield

Rob Sheffield is a columnist for Rolling Stone magazine. He is the author of two books, Love Is A Mix Tape and Talking To Girls About Duran Duran.

 

Abstract:

"Gold Scenes Inside The Weirdmine: The Doors and LA"

The Doors are one of the most popular, famous, acclaimed, and lucrative rock & roll bands of all time. They achieved this despite some daunting limitations: the lead instrument was an organ they apparently rescued from a dumpster outside a tiki lounge, the bassist would have sucked if they had one, the guitarist wrote “Touch Me,” and the only genuine rock star in the band, who died 40 years ago, was the kind of poet who likes to think up rhymes for “His brain is squirmin’ like a toad.” (And again, “Touch Me.”) Yet today they are more popular and acclaimed than ever. One thing they did have going for them was LA--I don’t mean the actual city, but the mythical LA they bequeathed to the rest of the world, an LA one could inhabit just by listening to the radio.

It was the Doors who turned LA into the normative rock-city fantasy of the 70s and 80s AOR era; anybody who wanted to get played on the radio needed to pretend they were from LA and sing about survivin’ in the city. Even Joe Walsh had to sing about survivin’ in LA, and that bitch was from Cleveland. It was the Doors that did this; the band made the city as assuredly as the city made the band. And in crucial ways, they also helped usher in the parallel 80s fantasy of LA as the new wave fantasy city. I’ll be looking at Doors fandom: why the Doors are awesome, how that awesomeness functions, and the role of LA in the canon-formation architecture of awesome.

My Speakers Sessions

Saturday, March 24
 

4:00pm EDT