The Doors – An American Prayer: #527 of best 1,000 albums ever!

The Doors - An American Prayer

So why is The Doors’ An American Prayer on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

Several years ago, I revisited An American Prayer. I took my dog, Jack, on a long walk around our neighborhood in West Seattle, and played it straight through. Which, really and more so than most albums, is the optimal way to experience it.

An American Prayer is a collection of Jim Morrison’s poetry – recorded by Morrison before his death in 1971 – set to music by the surviving Doors (Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger) years later in 1978.

I was curious to learn how I’d experience the album after not hearing it for many years. Here’s my finding: An American Prayer is an album that Doors superfans will treasure. As it turns out, I happen to be one.

Lyrically, there are high highs and low lows. There’s gorgeous, evocative, and strange musings about mythology, religion, and love, punctuated by surprisingly funny and brutally honest moments. There’s also content that’s flat out sophomoric – especially some of the sexual stuff. I’d say that my man could’ve used a good editor, but then again he was merely a posthumous participant in this project.

Musically, there are riveting moments – some of which point to what The Doors might have evolved into had Jim survived. The peak of the album all told is “A Feast of Friends,” where Jim’s excellent poetry is backed with an electric gothic arrangement that’s baroque, sad, and beautiful.

They are waiting to take us into the severed garden. Do you know how pale and wanton thrillful comes death on a strange hour?

There’s also Doors music from the Jim Era sprinkled into the mix (“Peace Frog,” “The Wasp,” and a stellar live recording of “Roadhouse Blues”), reminding us of how powerful and iconic the band was as a foursome.

I’m also astonished at how great “Angels and Sailors” is, which incorporates a recording of Jim Morrison singing the blues over an acoustic guitar. This more than anything represents to me what an older and wiser Morrison and The Doors might have sounded like had he lived.

I will never treat you mean, never start no kind of scene – I’ll tell you every place and person that I’ve been.

Some of the music edges just up to the edge of what might be considered cheesy. “Black Polished Chrome” is a great example of this, but I’d argue that it completely works, and the beat is expertly used to play off Jim’s oddball and perversely funny little tale.

Also see: The Doors – Other Voices: #833 of best 1,000 albums ever

Much more to come.

Some stats & info about The Doors – An American Prayer

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Blues Rock, SoCal Bands, Psychedelic Rock, Album Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 2 out of 5 stars(!!)  
  • When was An American Prayer released? 1978
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #527 out of 1,000

The Doors’ An American Prayer on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from The Doors’ An American Prayer that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

The music was new, black polished chrome, and came over the summer like liquid night.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.