We’re staying at the Morrison Hotel this week because I’m in a Goldilocks phase and this little out-of-the-way place looked like my best bet for resolving my neurotic dilemma.
At $2.50 a night, no less!
After two lengthy reviews of progressive rock opuses (or is it opusi?), I wanted something less complicated but not too uncomplicated, something that twiddled my diddle but also engaged my brain and something definitely rock-oriented but not exclusively so. I wanted nasty but I also wanted nice, but not nice so much as pleasurable but not orgasmic-level pleasurable but then again, that would be nice, too.
Got all that?
None of the albums on my carefully designed and absolutely fucking worthless plan fit the bill, so I had to consult my master list, and when I scrolled down to the D’s, I hit paydirt. The Doors! Yes!
No, not Yes. I did them last week. Let me change that to “Fuck yeah!” to eliminate the ambiguity.
Then I had to decide between Morrison Hotel and L.A. Woman. Having already taxed my little blonde brain to the max somewhere between naughty and nice, I flipped a coin and here we are.
Okay. I hope my flaky introduction hasn’t scared you off but I promise to hunker down and concentrate exclusively on The Doors’ fifth studio album for the next half-hour. Wait . . . it may take you a half-hour to read the review (max), but it’s going to take me a few days to actually write it and I don’t want to give the impression that I’m going to blow through Morrison Hotel in thirty minutes as if it wasn’t worth my time because it really is, so . . .
ARIELLE! SHUT THE FUCK UP!
1969 was a no-good very bad year for The Doors. They finally completed the album The Soft Parade after ten long months, releasing the album in July 1969 to a hailstorm of negative critical reviews. Jim Morrison took his erraticism to new levels, showing up drunk for most of the recording sessions and doubling down on the bizarre during a March performance in Miami where he encouraged the audience to take their clothes off and allegedly aired his weenie in public. As the incident occurred before “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” became a public relations mantra, the allegations led the more conservative radio stations to blacklist The Doors and stop playing their records, which in turn led to the cancellation of twenty-five tour dates. In November, when the band had entered the studio to flesh out what would become Morrison Hotel, Morrison and his buddy actor Tom Baker got seriously soused in an airport bar during a flight delay, boarded the plane, and allegedly harassed the flight attendants to the point where the pilot threatened to turn the plane around and have them arrested. When they finally landed at the intended destination (Phoenix, AZ), the pair were warmly welcomed by FBI agents who charged them with “interference with the flight of an aircraft.”
The charges were dropped, but the band was on shaky ground before they entered the studio. The sessions for The Soft Parade had been quite contentious, as not everyone in the band embraced the decision to use the album to expand the boundaries of rock by incorporating jazz and classical influences and sounds into the mix. Morrison’s presence in the studio was inconsistent at best; his greatest influence on the album came in the form of a demand that the songs not be credited to the collective (as was the case on their first three albums) but to the individuals who wrote the songs. In terms of “signs of an impending band breakup,” Morrison’s demand was the equivalent of John Lennon’s request that all of his songs on Abbey Road appear on one side and Paul’s on the other.
Funny how he left George out of the picture, but George got his revenge by writing two of the best songs on Abbey Road.
Morrison was ready to move on until Ray Mazarek convinced him to stick it out for another six months. Ironically, the unfavorable reviews for The Soft Parade (and the fact that it cost a fortune to produce) ignited a collective desire to get back to the basics and reconnect with the band’s unique DNA. Several of the tracks on Morrison Hotel involved re-imagining and making proper recordings of songs they’d written years before, allowing the band members to reconnect with their essential “Doorness.” While I understand the desire of some of the band members to do something different, the sudden shift to strings and horns did not represent a natural, organic development from their previous efforts. It also ignored the fact that the best thing about The Doors was that they had already achieved a signature sound based on their ability to blend the diverse talents of the band members. Jim Morrison was blessed with a distinctive, versatile voice and a gift for symbolist poetry; Ray Manzarek was an innovative keyboardist weaned on jazz; Robby Krieger was a multi-faceted guitarist whose range included rock, blues, jazz and flamenco; and John Densmore combined influences from rock, world music and jazz with his own creative instincts to produce some of the most compelling drum compositions of the era. The Doors already had the talent and musical curiosity to expand rock’s boundaries; all they needed at this point in their development was to hit the reset button—and that’s what they did with Morrison Hotel.
Getting back to where they once belonged should have been fairly easy, but easy was out of the question with Jim Morrison in the band. His exceptional talents came with a heavy price in the form of serious addiction and mental health issues. In an interview with Guitar World, Robbie Krieger described the yin-yang of Morrison’s impact on the band:
“It was hard living with Jim . . . It would have been so great if we’d just had a guy like Sting,” says Krieger wistfully. “You know, a normal guy who’s extremely talented, too. Someone who didn’t have to be on the verge of life and death every second of his life.”
The guitarist laughs at his own fantasy. He knows better than anyone that it was Morrison’s inner demons, which surfaced all too frequently, that gave the Doors’ music its resonance and power.
Acknowledging Morrison’s issues takes nothing away from his achievements as a singer and poet. He was like a field of shooting stars, giving us too-brief bursts of intense sensation before burning out. The band had to take the good with the bad, and we should be grateful that they managed to do so.
Now that we’ve dealt with the elephant in the room, I’ll focus my attention on what The Doors gave us in Morrison Hotel.
Side 1: Hard Rock Café
The side that lent its name to the world-famous theme-bar-restaurant-memorabilia-casino-museum chain rocks harder than side two but is actually more balanced than the subtitle suggests.
I do travel a lot but following a spiritual journey guided by Jon Anderson with a stay at a no-tell motel courtesy of Jim Morrison is one giant leap for womankind!
Sorry, Jon but what Jim Morrison has to offer in “Roadhouse Blues” is my kind of spiritual experience. Once a slut, always a slut, and I’m a happy camper when I’m in slut mode.
I can feel my nether regions getting wet as soon as Morrison launches into his vocal; the first orgasm elicits a pleasure scream when he inserts that delicious pregnant pause in the line, “Yeah, we’re going to the roadhouse gonna have a real . . . good time!” The second arrives when the band finally moves off the base E major/E7#9 chord pattern and completes the blues progression in the chorus, throwing in a C7 chord to shake things up:
Let it roll, baby, roll
Let it roll, baby, roll
Let it roll, baby, roll
Let it roll
All night long
Morrison sings those lines with genuine heat and pure delight. I hear the sound of a true connoisseur and soulmate who experienced sex as a sacred, sensual and spiritual experience beyond compare. When Morrison was on his game he sang some of the most intensely erotic rock vocals ever recorded.
The scoop from Songfacts is “When Jim Morrison got drunk, he liked to sing blues numbers at The Doors jam sessions. This is one of the songs he came up with at one of those inebriated sessions.” Morrison’s bender extended through the recording process, requiring several takes because he kept forgetting the words. I ran the arcane passage “You gotta beep a gunk a chucha honk konk konk kadanta each ya puna ney cha bap pa lula ni chao pao pati cha ni saong kong” through Google Translate and it came up with a partial translation in Tagalog that made no sense whatsoever. Whether Morrison was filling the space due to a temporary blackout or just engaging in classic blues scat is anybody’s guess, but he still sounds great.
But Jim isn’t the only guy twiddling my diddle on “Roadhouse Blues.” Robbie Krieger’s guitar work is certainly worth equal billing, mixing a distorted rhythmic attack involving tight integration with John Sebastian’s harp and Ray Manzerak’s tack piano with beautifully responsive fills to Morrison’s vocal and a stunning guitar solo (preceded by Morrison’s “Do it, Robbie, do it!”) combining high heat, laid-back arpeggios and a superb feel for the song’s forward movement. Meanwhile, the rhythm section of John Densmore and pinch-hitter Lonnie Mack (Ray Neapolitan, who played bass on most of the songs got stuck in L.A. traffic that day) combine to create a brawny and consistent rhythm throughout the song.
The final verse is my favorite for two reasons. First off, the backstory reveals Morrison’s ability to recognize a good line when he hears one, a classic trait of the true poet. In an interview with Uncut, Alice Cooper made the plausible claim that he was responsible for the core line in that verse:
“We were sitting there drinking and Jim comes in and he flops down,” says Cooper on his breakfast show on Planet Rock radio.
“I said that I had got up this morning and got myself a beer and while we’re talking he just writes that down. So they go in and they’re doing the song and the next thing I hear is ‘Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer’ and I went ‘I just said that a second ago!’”
“He was very spontaneous in the way things were written,” he adds.
The second reason I love the verse has to do with Morrison’s ability to pull a line from his poetic notebook and somehow make it work in a completely different context:
The future’s uncertain
And the end is always near
At the time it was written, the line was essentially the argument for carpe diem, particularly as it relates to “having a real . . . good time.” The line took on a different meaning after Morrison’s very early death at the age of twenty-seven; the enthusiastic embrace of living life in the moment and to the fullest without worrying about the consequences colored the line with a darker cast. Still, “Roadhouse Blues,” is obviously a joyful, erotic, good-time experience, “the all-time American bar band song,” according to engineer Bruce Botnick and “one of the great heavy foreplay songs” according to moi.
Waiting for the Sun
The band wasn’t thrilled by their first stab at what was supposed to be the title track for the third album, so they decided to give it another go. Personally, I’m not thrilled by the second attempt; the poetry feels incomplete and the constant repetition of the synth-heavy figure drives me batty. Robby Krieger’s slide guitar is the most interesting aspect of the piece, but it’s often overpowered by the bass-heavy synthesizer. Songfacts has asserted that the song is about the American Dream but only the opening verse hints at that possibility:
At first flash of Eden
We race down to the sea
Standing there on freedom’s shore
Waiting for the sun (3)
A contributor on songmeanings.com provided a credible source of inspiration in the text of the Popul Vuh, the mythology and history of the Kʼicheʼ people, one of the Maya peoples:
Morrison was so widely read he often used quotes from great books or authors. In the Popul Vuh, the Sacred Book of the Quiche Maya, from the translation of Adrian Recinos (University of Oklahoma Press), it reads, “Our first mothers and fathers did not yet have wood or stones to keep, but their hearts were tired of waiting for the sun.”
According to the text, it seems the people were tired of their so-called wise men telling them to get up early to greet the sun before they had their morning coffee. Had Morrison tied the first verse “on freedom’s shore” to the deep dissatisfaction of the American people due to the forever unfulfilled promises of its leaders, he might have had something. As it is, the best line in the song has nothing to do with America, the K’iche’ or sunshine, but everything to do with Jim Morrison:
This is the strangest
Life I’ve ever
I’ve always felt that Jim Morrison was otherworldly in the sense that he was of this world but not fully committed to it. Whether that otherworldliness is the result of a bad choice made in between reincarnations or his acute perception that the “real world” is merely an illusion remains an open question, but it certainly imbued his poetry with a sense of detachment that occasionally led to some brilliant insights.
You Make Me Real
“You Make Me Real” is another blast from the past that the band had tinkered with as early as 1966. Unlike my reaction to “Waiting for the Sun,” I am positively fucking thrilled by this one.
From a structural standpoint, “You Make Me Real” is just a straight blues progression, a structure that tends to encourage cliché riffs and tired musical tropes by unimaginative musicians. The Doors give the old lady a new lease on life with an innovative arrangement, incredible tightness and all-out fire.
The innovation is apparent from the start in the form of a duet with Manzarek on the right and Kreiger on the left. Manzarek opens the proceedings with quick arpeggios played on a tack piano (a process where thumbtacks or nails are shoved into the pads to give the piano the bright, tinny sound heard in ragtime and honky tonk). Manzarek solos on the first two measures, giving the piece an old-time rock ‘n’ roll flavor. On the third measure, Robby joins in with a bluesier take on Manzarek’s riff in hard rock mode while John Densmore simultaneously enters the mix with a full-pronged attack on toms, matching the speed of Manzarek’s arpeggios. The musical statement is a marriage of sorts, wedding early piano-based rock with modern guitar dominance; the message is something like, “It don’t fuckin’ matter how you play it, baby, it’s still rock ‘n’ roll!”
Morrison makes his entrance at the ten-second mark and it’s obvious from the get-go that he’s absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to pontificate on one of his favorite topics: fucking! Granted, we don’t get full confirmation of the song’s theme until much later when he throws the most obtuse listeners a bone (pun intended) with the juicy line (pun intended) “So let me slide into your tender sunken sea,” but the heat in his voice and suggestive lines like “You make me feel/Like lovers feel” leave little doubt as to what’s on his mind. The sacred act seems to be the one experience in his life where he feels fully himself, free of the demons that often dogged him:
You make me real
You make me feel
Like lovers feel
You make me throw away mistaken misery
Make me feel love
Make me free
The responsibility for a band’s tightness falls mainly on the rhythm section, and Densmore and Neapolitan have it covered here. In addition to basic rhythmic support, both throw in some exciting runs and fills, adding more heat to the fire. Densmore changes his attack from bash to shuffle to mirroring the rhythm of Kreiger’s riff, keeping things fresh without losing the drive. “You Make Me Real” is a killer track and damn, I’m really getting horny now.
Terrible title, great music, intriguing but ill-fitting lyrics.
The music to “Peace Frog” was written at least a year before the lyrics; the Doors played the instrumental version during concerts in 1969 after the blacklisting hysteria died down. At first, all Morrison could come up with was a single line: “She came, she came, she came, just about the break of day.” During the Morrison Hotel sessions, Rothchild sat down with Morrison and together they went through his poetic notebooks in search of suitable lyrics. Most of the content in the song comes from three poems: “Dawn’s Highway,” “Newborn Awakening” and “Abortion Stories.” Morrison wanted to use “Abortion Stories” for the song’s title but Rothchild talked him out of it, accepting the completely meaningless “Peace Frog” in an attempt to sidestep controversy.
I can’t begin to imagine how a song titled “Abortion Stories” would play in today’s pro-life, no-choice, thou-shalt-carry-your-rapist’s-baby America.
The fit problem is obvious. Except for a brief spoken-word passage, the music is upbeat and jaunty, somewhere between ass-shaking and toe-tapping and marked by a melody that encourages a sing-along or happy humming. Of the twenty-six lines of the song, eighteen mention blood or bleeding; in two others, the bleeding is implied. I’m sorry, but I have a hard time singing along with Jim when he delivers lines like “There’s blood in the streets, it’s up to my ankles” or “Blood screams her brain as they chop off her fingers.” Most of the events in the song are semi-autobiographical and are of more interest to biographers and students of Morrison’s poetry than your typical rock aficionado.
On the plus side, the music is fucking awesome, so I fully understand how “Peace Frog” ranks as one of the Doors’ best songs. The mix is exceptional, giving the listener clear and clean access to all the moving parts, and the band members are introduced in sequence, each given two measures to show their stuff and establish their place in the soundfield. Krieger comes first with sharp-cut chords; Densmore follows, establishing the chugging beat; Neapolitan comes next with super-nimble bass runs; Manzarek slips in a few organ shots; and finally Morrison arrives with lead and response vocals. I’ve had a lot of fun setting the song to repeat and just focusing on one band member at a time before considering the whole, arriving at the conclusion that The Doors were one exceptionally tight and talented band.
“Peace Frog” fades seamlessly into the nowhere-near far-rock sounds of “Blue Monday.”
In James Riordan’s bio Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison. Paul Rothchild shared his essential memories of Morrison: “Jim really was two very distinct and different people. A Jekyll and Hyde. When he was sober, he was Jekyll, the most erudite, balanced, friendly kind of guy. . . He was Mr. America. When he would start to drink, he’d be okay at first, then, suddenly, he would turn into a maniac. Turn into Hyde.”
You could say that Morrison was in Jekyll mode on “Blue Sunday,” but I think the more relevant reference involves Jim’s admiration for Frank Sinatra. You can hear Sinatra in his precise enunciation, in the care he takes to absorb the meaning of the lyrics and most obviously in his baritone crooning. The song was written way back in 1965 at the start of the band’s existence, so it’s not surprising that the lyrics fall far short of Johnny Mercer and the other great lyricists Sinatra worked with, but Morrison makes the most of them, coloring his vocal with tenderness and sincere passion. The supporting arrangement is sensitive to the gently changing moods, laying low in the introspective parts and rising to the occasion in the more passionate segments. Krieger employs a sweet, mellow tone in his complementary counterpoints while Densmore proves he can handle the soft stuff as well as the hard stuff with some nice brush and cymbal work. It may not be a great fit for a hard rock café, but its essential elegance works well in the track order.
Ship of Fools
Our visit to the hard rock café ends with “Ship of Fools,” which has nothing to do with the Katherine Anne Porter novel or the Stanley Kramer film. I’ve read some commentary that compares the song to “The Crystal Ship,” the ultimate in hedonistic cruise experiences. While that may be partially true, Morrison flips the script and turns the pleasure palace into a ship of fools, by fools and for fools.
The first two verses present a situation that should be very familiar to the current inhabitants of the blue orb: a dying planet filled with species on the brink of extinction, including the homo sapiens who caused the problem but do little to fix it, hoping that things won’t get too bad:
The human race was dyin’ out
No one left to scream and shout
People walkin’ on the moon
Smog will get you pretty soon
Everyone was hangin’ out
Hangin’ up and hangin’ down
Hangin’ in and holding fast
Hope our little world will last
I’ve already stated my objections to the left-wing complaints about spending money on space exploration when we have all these people living in poverty, yada, yada, yada, instead of focusing on the real money drain from military spending, but everything else rings true. What comes next is the flip: the ship isn’t a pleasure palace but a huckster’s attempt to con people who believe the Earth is doomed to travel to a distant world. In other words, we’re dealing with a double dose of reality avoidance, based on the truism that there’s a sucker born every minute:
Yeah, along came Mr. Goodtrips
Lookin’ for a new a ship
Come on, people, better climb on board
Come on, baby, now we’re goin’ home
Ship of fools
Ship of fools
Morrison changes his voice for that verse, doing a fair imitation of what I think P.T. Barnum may have sounded like. The circus-like atmosphere is intensified by Manzarek’s carnival organ, and the light and playful music confirms the satiric intent of the piece, providing an ironically upbeat ending for side one.
It’s nice to know that Jim Morrison had a sense of humor.
Side 2: Morrison Hotel
From the looks of the Morrison Hotel on the cover, I don’t think we’re going to find a place that pays much attention to decor. I think it’s more likely that what’s left of the drapes will clash with the bedspread. In other words, don’t expect a common theme to emerge, but the management did wish me to convey that they hope you enjoy your stay.
Doors frontman Jim Morrison adapted the lyrics from a modified poem of his, and guitarist Robbie Krieger came up with the lick and the drop tuning. Morrison’s father and his grandfather were both naval men, and “Land Ho” goes together with “Ship Of Fools.” “They’re both about seafaring and pioneer spirits and life on the ocean, Krieger told Louder Sound in 2023. “They’re about people leaving earth, and the idea of the first people to come to American shores.”
This song makes me laugh from the get-go. The skiffle beat, melody and Morrison’s vocal remind me of some of the theme songs to TV westerns in the 50s and 60s. “Johnny Yuma was a rebel” . . . that kind of thing. I guess nobody told Robbie Krieger about the switch to side two because his fills and solo are classic hard rock.
The narrative is somewhat chaotic; the first two verses tell the story of grandpa, a former whaler who’s sick and tired of the landlubber life, longing to “. . . find my shipmates/And walk on foreign sands.” The bridge involves a flip to music with palpable tension and a change to a second character, likely the captain of a ship headed for America who unblinkingly describes the courage or lunacy involved in crossing the Atlantic:
I’ve got three ships and sixteen men
A course for ports unread
I’ll stand at mast, let north winds blow
‘Til half of us are dead
The final verse brings us back to the “pioneer music” of the first two verses, but the structure changes slightly and Morrison sings a different melody in a different voice. This stanza deals with the meaning of freedom, which in this narrator’s view, involves getting drunk, skinning an unknown girl alive and fucking with abandon:
Well, if I get my hands on a dollar bill
Gonna buy a bottle and drink my fill
If I get my hands on a number five
Gonna skin that little girl alive
If I get my hands on a number two
Come back home and marry you
Marry you, alright!
Ey, land ho!
Ey, land ho!
Well, if I get back home and I feel alright
You know, babe, I’m gonna love you tonight
Some may find this a silly song but I really love it when Jim Morrison sounds like he’s having . . . a good time.
Hmm. I wonder if Jarvis Cocker’s “I Spy” (his creepy revenge-driven surveillance of his neighbors) was influenced by Jim Morrison’s equally creepy control freak (first line borrowed from the Anaïs Nin novel):
I’m a spy in the house of love
I know the dream that you’re dreamin’ of
I know the word that you long to hear
I know your deepest secret fear
Eeewwwww yuck! The feeling this song evokes is akin to the feeling you’d get if you stumbled into a late-night dive bar full of wannabe rapists and pedophiles. Morrison plays his role a little too well for my tastes, but I have to admit it’s a boffo performance. Krieger and Manzerak flesh out the smoky mood with short, lurid riffs that complete the picture. “The Spy” is one of those songs you hate to love, but my admiration for the musical mood far outweighs the discomfort involved in hanging out with these losers.
Queen of the Highway
I haven’t mentioned Pamela Courson once because I loathe having to interpret songs solely based on a songwriter’s private life. If a song is too personal, it lacks the universality of a great song and therefore isn’t worth my time and effort. However, in the interests of equal time, I’ll share this passage from the Wikipedia article on Morrison Hotel, which also includes an alternative interpretation of “I Spy.”
“The Spy” and “Queen of the Highway” celebrate Morrison’s intense but troubled relationship with longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson. Originally “The Spy” was called “Spy in the House of Love”, as shown on the Master Reel Control File, a line borrowed from A Spy in the House of Love, a novel by Anaïs Nin published in 1954. Both songs are tinged with ambivalence; on “The Spy,” Morrison cautions, “I know your deepest, secret fears”, while on “Queen of the Highway” he sardonically concludes, “I hope it can continue a little while longer”. According to the 1980 Doors biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, it was during the Morrison Hotel sessions that Morrison and Courson had a violent argument after she drank his bottle of liquor so he could not drink it, with engineer Bruce Botnick recalling: “So here were the two of them, completely out of their minds and crying. He started shaking her violently. I think he was putting me on. She was crying out of control, telling him he shouldn’t drink anymore and that’s why she drank it. And I’m cleaning up and I said, ‘Hey man, it’s pretty late.’ He looked up, stopped shaking her, said, ‘Yeah, right’, hugged her and they walked out arm in arm . . . he’d always give you a funny look afterward, to see your reaction.”
The pair had an intense, erotic and spiritual connection; Pamela was very supportive of Jim’s artistic efforts and inspired several of Morrison’s songs. The problem I have with “Queen of the Highway” is that it’s so personal I have a hard time relating to it.
Robby Krieger said that this was the first song the Doors ever recorded, a demo dating back to 1965. Songfacts is WAY off-base when they claim the song was inspired by an incident that occurred during Jim’s childhood when he allegedly witnessed a car accident while his family was driving through the desert that (according to Morrison) left “Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death.” All his family members on that trip called bullshit on that claim, asserting that while there was an accident involving Native Americans, there were no deaths, only some people crying on the side of the road.
The incident IS mentioned in “Peace Frog”: “Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding/ Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind.” That said, whoever wrote that nonsense for Songfacts saw the word “Indian” and jumped to a stupid conclusion. “Indian Summer” is simply a beautiful love song that has nothing to do with Jim’s “transformative experience.” Here is the entire set of lyrics, bloodless and completely free of tragedy:
I love you the best
Better than all the rest
I love you the best
Better than all the rest
That I meet in the summer
That I meet in the summer
I love you the best
Better than all the rest
The song is quite mesmerizing, with Jim singing in his softest and most tender voice, Densmore responding beautifully to the highs and lows with appropriate intensity and Manzarek adding short splashes of organ. Once again, Robbie Krieger reveals his fretboard genius with a moving and melancholy performance on acoustic guitar, filled with tiny riffs that stick in your head for days. It’s one of those songs that takes you out of the mundane world and into a calming, beautiful space.
The festivities draw to a close with (what else?) sexual escapades in the form of one Maggie M’Gill, who headed straight for the red-light district (“Tangie Town”) after daddy drank himself to death. After that promising opening, Maggie kinda sorta disappears except in name only and Morrison meanders to another narrative about an “illegitimate son of a rock star.” It’s probably the least energetic song on the album, with the band sounding a bit bored by it all. In a way, it’s the perfect closer because it sounds like what I imagine the Morrison Hotel feels like . . . nowheresville.
Now it’s time to add up the score! Let’s see . . . I did get less complicated but not too uncomplicated . . . oh my . . . my diddle got twiddled way more than I expected, but I am perfectly cool with that . . . rock-oriented but diverse—a definite yes . . . nasty and nice—check! Hey! Morrison Hotel checked all the boxes! No wonder I’m in a rare good mood this early in the morning! Yay me!
Best of all, The Doors gave me something I didn’t ask for but deeply appreciate: the sound of an extraordinarily tight band getting back to what they do best, mixing blues, rock and poetry with two gorgeous love songs and a generally delightful slant towards eccentricity. You can expect a review of L. A. Woman sometime this summer.
I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off from writing reviews to do something very important that may go a long way toward explaining why I came across as a complete flake in the introduction. I’ll fill you in via a hopefully brief post next Sunday.
[…] I will now explain the reasons for my upcoming mini-break and why I went wacko during my introduction to Morrison Hotel. […]
It’s always good to read a Doors review that is not overly fixated on Jim Morrison. He is best appreciated as 1/4 of a great ensemble. Robbie Krieger wrote in his memoir that Morrison was very aware of this and was respectful of the other members, at least when he wasn’t being a crazy alcoholic. You get extra credit for acknowledging the contributions of the bass player.
Morrison Hotel is my favorite Doors album because it gets right to the point (can a song possibly be more on point than “Road House Blues”?) and stays there all the way through the last song. There are no ultra-long songs to test my patience. My second favorite Doors album is L.A. Woman. That one drags a bit in some spots, although not during the long songs, which are the best ones on that particular album.
“Peace Frog” features one of the great Doors riffs. I suppose the lyrics are rather macabre, now that I think about it. I hadn’t even noticed. I don’t know how “Waiting For the Sun” got left off the album of that name. That album is one of their weaker ones and could’ve used a few more good songs. I’ve learned to appreciate most of The Soft Parade album, but then I put on Morrison Hotel and realize that THIS is what the Doors sound like when they are completely focused.
I also love Roadhouse Blues, but I don’t think it has ever brought me to orgasm….
It happens: https://people.com/human-interest/concertgoer-reportedly-has-loud-full-body-orgasm-la-philharmonic-performance/
Ha ha ha! Excellent! 🙂
I reckon this musically-inspired orgasming is a female thing, though. Us men, we just have to think about tits and we’re there.
Glad to read another lover of this album. It comes back with all its energy and memories. BTW, the plural of opus is “opera.” I can imagine you’d want to avoid the double meaning of “rock opera”!
And, if you have more blues in you and haven’t seen yet, pleasure and tears await in the long documentary on Paul Butterfield “Horn from the Heart,” now available free on Youtube. Even better than the Bloomfield documentary, though both guys will always be part of each other’s bio!
Now that you mentioned it, I remember learning that opera was the plural but since it made no sense to me I erased it from the memory banks. Thanks for the tip on Butterfield!
Another random comment: I’m listening to a Grateful Dead show right now, and they also have a song called Ship of Fools. It’s much more of a ballad than the Doors song but it’s quite good, with beautiful lyrics and a nice set of changes. Check it out if you wish.
Have a nice break, whatever it is you’re doing. I feel lucky to have discovered your wonderful site recently, as reading great album review blogs is one of my favorite hobbies. I’m only familiar with the Doors on a surface level (just because I’ve decided to focus my massive deep dives elsewhere thus far) and the only song on this album that I know is the awesome Roadhouse Blues, but your review might just inspire me to check out the rest.
By the way, I hope you don’t mind me asking whether this comment section is a good place to give you recommendations. I know some albums you might be interested in, and while I’ll never force you to review anything and I know you have a long list, I would love to find a way to introduce you to some cool music I’ve been digging recently.
I get a lot of suggestions in reader comments, so feel free to do so. Two things to remember: I don’t review any music released within the previous three years, and you may want to check out my no-fly list of artists I won’t review: https://altrockchick.com/2016/03/08/the-truth-about-beets/
Yep, I’ve seen that no-fly list, and I’m mostly fine with it (though I do enjoy just a few of the artists on there, none are particular favorites maybe save Rush if I’m in that kind of mood). I don’t listen to a lot of recent music either, so I’m pretty much good with restriction as well, though I was going to suggest a couple recent artists so maybe that’ll have to wait depending on which albums I want to suggest. But as for other stuff that qualifies, here goes:
The Grateful Dead are my favorite band and I really like the reviews you’ve written of them already, and perhaps another one is due. Maybe the live Europe 72?
Are you open to reviewing Spanish-language music? I think you might really enjoy Alturas de Machu Picchu by Los Jaivas, a seminal folk-prog album that brilliantly adapted lyrics by famous left-wing Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and was even performed in a TV broadcast at Machu Picchu itself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnwbWXVmJSc. I’ll leave it at that for now and come back with a couple more when you’re back from your break. Happy listening (and whatever else you do)!