Overrated or Underrated: It’s All Relative

I enjoy The Beatles.

This statement could possibly be the most universally accepted thing I’ve ever said. Everyone pretty much agrees with this sentiment. Even if you don’t listen to the group often, you can find something that they did that you thoroughly enjoy.

I feel the need to point out that there are people out there who will tell you that The Beatles are overrated. To be perfectly frank, I was one of those people. When I was younger and blasting poorly recorded punk rock from my stereo I thought it appropriate to scoff at the mentioning of The Beatles. They were popular simply because it made someone feel like they were cultured. In reality, my “hatred” for the group was based purely and me wanting to be different. It was an attempt to be crass and unapologetic which somehow made me cool. In reality, it just made me an ass. After listening to Happiness is a Warm Gun I realized the brilliance that the band was capable of. Not all of their music is good (Revolution 9 is pseudo-intellectual fodder), but pretty much everyone band has released some clunkers. The Beatles have more great songs than bad ones. Even the songs that were just OK, were pretty good. In an odd way, even with all the praise that The Beatles get, I would say the people that blindly hate them can often overshadow the positive merits of the band. That’s not to say that the beatles are overrated or underrated, because they really just are.

But a band that I (and apparently various music publications) feel is the most overrated would have to be The Doors. The music is bad, the lyrics are possibly some of the worst things ever written. Jim Morrison is, in my humble opinion, the biggest d-bag ever in rock music. He felt that he was a rock star, but he was just a hack. I’ll use a quote from Craig Finn of the infinitely better rock band, The Hold Steady. He pretty much encapsules my feelings on the “genius” that was Jim Morrison.

The music meanders, and Morrison was more like a drunk asshole than an intelligent poet. The worst of the worst is the last song, Riders on the Storm: ‘There’s a killer on the road/ His brain is squirming like a toad’ – that’s surely the worst line in rock’n’roll history. He gave the green light to generations of pseuds.

I happen to agree with all of this. But in the interest of fairness I will admit to kind of enjoying two songs by the band. The End isn’t a bad song. I think the lyrics aren’t very good (a common theme with Morrison) but there is something vaguely enjoyable about the song.

The second kind of enjoyable song is People Are Strange. I don’t care for the message about alienation or whatever he was getting at, but I don’t mind the song. With this being said, if either of these two songs come on the radio I’ll still probably change the station. It’s just that they aren’t quite as bad. They are at least tolerable.

But that’s where the positive comments for The Doors end. It’s music made by drug addicts for people who do drugs. I have no problem with people doing drugs. I’m for the legalization of drugs. Personal responsibility and what not. But my views on that do nothing to change my opinion on Jim Morrison. Some people can write/do great things when under the influence of drugs. Most, however, can’t. Jim Morrison is one of these people. I once had a discussion about his lyrics and how I thought they were awful. I was told that to really understand them you have to do LSD. Which, if this is true,  still makes him an absolutely terrible poet. If you need something else to understand something, then you’re just not doing a good enough job to begin with.

Take Maya Angelou’s famous poem, Still I Rise. I’ve never been a minority in America, which is to say that I have never felt the sting of discrimination. But there is still something in the poem that resonates with the human spirit. (This is coming from someone, by the way, that thought Snooki getting more money for her appearance at Rutgers was a sign of the beauty of the American dream)

That’s the true beauty of something well written. It is able to tap into human emotions that are universal. Not just into a minority group. And this is what Maya Angelou was able to do, whether she knew she was tapping into something like that when she penned Still I Rise I don’t know. Jim Morrison was just able to tap into a part of the population who thought they were holding secret knowledge that others just couldn’t grasp. And that’s pretty sad when you think about it.

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