The Best American Band: The Doors Response

The Doors

The Doors

When I innocently mentioned the other night that I thought a case could be made that Aerosmith is the best American bank, ever, Richard gave me an incredulous look and said: “What about The Doors?” Richard, Russell and I then launched into an extended discussion of potential candidates, and the more I think about it the more candidates I come up with.

I have to say, though, that The Doors are a pretty strong choice for an off-the-cuff response to my observation. The Doors are ones of those bands that changed the sound of popular music. What did listeners think when their favorite top-40 radio station first played Light My Fire? Their songs featured excellent keyboard music, strong guitar work, weird lyrics, and a great deep singing voice. The Doors is a terrific album, as are Morrison Hotel and L.A. Woman — these were staples of the apartment stereo system when I was in college. although I never cared much for The End, there were particular times when you just felt an urge to listen to a song like The Cars Hiss By My Window — “with a sonic boom . . . boom” — or the dreamy mood created by Riders on the Storm. Their music was so different that the name The Doors has always seemed particularly apt.

As you might expect, the Ipod features a number of Doors tunes: Break on Through (To the Other Side), Light My Fire, L.A. Woman, The Cars Hiss By My Window, People are Strange, Hello I Love You, Roadhouse Blues (Live), Riders on the Storm, and Touch Me. Although it has been almost 38 years — 38 years! — since Jim Morrison died the traditional rock star’s death, this music still stands the test of time.

Edited to add: Time to Vote for your choice for Best American Band!


Today I met with the new class of summer clerks at our Columbus office and, in discussing legal research, used the word “grok.” Of course, none of these clerks had heard of the word, or the book Stranger in a Strange Land from which the word came, or its author Robert A. Heinlein. Well, what do you expect? These folks didn’t graduate from high until after 9/11.

For the record, “grok” means to understand at a complete, intuitive level, and I’m glad to see that on-line dictionaries, at least, recognize the word. It is hard to believe, though, that Stranger in a Strange Land has faded into obscurity. The book was popular among kids when I was growing up, and the word “grok” was used with some frequency in everyday conversation. (Hence, the saying: “I grok Spock.”) What’s next? Will people forget Jonathan Livingston Seagull, or Watership Down and the joys of silflaying under the moon?

Withheld Judgment

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, has served for 11 years on the United States Court of the Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is one of the most important of the federal appellate courts. The Second Circuit’s jurisdiction includes New York City, and for that reason many of the most important cases involving securities laws, the operations of the markets, and other corporate and business activities come to the Second Circuit.

I see that some people already are highly critical of Judge Sotomayor, based in part on comments she has made in commencement addresses and other speeches. Stray comments made in the course of speeches seem like a poor basis on which to decide whether someone is suited to the nation’s highest court. I suggest, instead, that people read the opinions that Judge Sotomayor authored in her 11 years on the Second Circuit (and, before then, on the federal district court bench). Those opinions will provide lots of information about Judge Sotomayor’s analytical abilities, writing skills, and perspective on many different legal issues. An old rule of law states that a court speaks through its opinions and journal entries. Anyone assessing whether Judge Sotomayor merits elevation to the Supreme Court should start there, and withhold judgment until they have completed a careful review of her actual judicial work product.