The Doors Top 50 Countdown is getting very near the end and our statistics are as vital as ever... Let's go on with the show!
At #10 is the perfect example of how the Doors could write an amazing pop hit if they chose to. Hello, I Love You, the opening track and lead single from Waiting For The Sun (1968) was a Jim Morrison song. Originally one of the six demos The Doors recorded at World Pacific Jazz Studios in September 1965, Morrison wrote this about a dark lovely he’d lusted after on Venice Beach.
The song starts out as a jaunty pop ditty, with Morrison teasingly trying to attract the attention of his object of desire (even as he pokes fun at his own ambitions with lyrics like, “Do you hope to make her see you, fool?”). But by the end, he’s screaming in the frustration of one whose passion has been unreciprocated. It gives a harsher edge to what might otherwise have been just another slice of light-hearted teeny pop. Many thought the fuzz-toned melody was inspired by the Kinks’ All Day and All of the Night, but Krieger told Guitar World otherwise: “I told John [Densmore] to play something like Sunshine of Your Love. So, we ripped off the Cream, not the Kinks.”
But Ray Davies has continued to assert that the Doors' song was based on his. In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Davies suggested that an out-of-court settlement had been reached with the Doors. You can decide for yourselves. Here's All Day and All of the Night by the Kinks:
... And here's Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream:
At the time this 1968 single was released, stereo 45 rpm records were generally unknown - especially in the Top 40 format. This recording by the Doors was promoted as the first rock 45 rpm record in stereo. It includes a long musical sweep about 1:20 into the song, starting at the left channel and panning across into the right channel, in a very ostentatious demonstration of stereo effect.
The single was the Doors' second #1 hit in the US and their first in Canada. It also made the top 20 in the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and New Zealand. Here it is:
There have been numerous covers of the song. Here are the Cure:
Here are the Eurythmics:
... And here's the late Cory Monteith from Glee:
At #9 is a song from the same album, in fact, the closing track. And it's oh, so different from the opening track. Five To One is such a raw, punch-in-your-gut song. ‘No one here gets out alive’ sang Morrison on a tale of open revolution, thickened by masculine lust and the immortally stuttered, ‘Ya walk across the floor with a flower in your hand...’ which is addressed to a prostitute.
By mid-1968, Strange Days had given the Doors their first chart-topping album and they were outselling the Grateful Dead fivefold, yet were undoubtedly also part of the emerging counterculture. As a student at Florida State University in the early 1960s, Morrison had become particularly engaged with the philosophies of protest and the psychology of crowds and brought these elements together in his performances of one of the band’s most powerfully political and controversial songs. The title supposedly refers to the ratio in the US between young and old, perhaps with a nod to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, “If our forces are 10 to the enemy’s one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him”. The lyrics – “The old get old but the young get stronger, may take a week but it may take longer. They’ve got the guns, we’ve got the numbers” – recognize youth’s dormant power and reflects Morrison’s belief (as per many of the Summer of Love generation) that music could change the world. Perhaps his subsequent realization that American youth was inherently more conservative than it let on led – along with copious quantities of wine and beer – to the song’s infamous performance in Miami in 1969. With the stage swarmed by policemen, the star interrupts the groove to rail at the audience: “You’re all a bunch of fucking idiots, letting people push you around … You’re all a bunch of fucking slaves…” etc. Morrison was subsequently arrested and put on trial for drunkenness, indecency, and profanity. The Miami Five to One remains officially unreleased but I've found it. Let's not forget however the swinging take from Absolutely Live that captures the tune’s tumultuous live power.
This is the studio version:
This is the Absolutely Live version:
This is that performance in Miami in 1969:
Marilyn Manson covered the song:
Beyoncé used the song in a mix with Ring The Alarm:
At #8 is a song from the aforementioned Strange Days (1967). People Are Strange was the album's second single and it peaked at #12 in the US, at #6 in Canada, and at #9 in New Zealand. The song was a hit, which is strange indeed, considering its black, psychedelic mood is like tripping on an ice rink.
One night in early ’67, Krieger and Densmore found Morrison on their doorstep in a depressed state: “A really lousy, talking-about-killing-himself mood.” They walked him to the top of Laurel Canyon and dropped acid, before returning to Sunset Sound Recorders to capture his epiphany. Morrison state of mind explains the unease and paranoia in a lyric that addresses the fear and isolation of being alone, beautifully depicted in the line “Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted.” It was probably the closest The Doors ever worked as songwriters, with Manzarek providing a crisp honky tonk piano. The unsettled mood is heightened by the song ending on an unresolved note, leaving the listener hanging in the air as much as the song’s narrator.
Here it is:
Here is a good cover by Echo and The Bunnymen, produced by Ray Manzarek himself. It was a hit in the UK and in Ireland.
Here's another good cover by Tori Amos:
Here's a little live acoustic rehearsal video of the song by the great contemporary musician (and good friend) Martin Del Carpio, with Juan I. Garcia on guitar:
The two other songs in our list today both come from the album L.A. Woman (1971), the last studio album to feature Morrison, who died three months after the album's release. Let me just say that I love the songs in positions three to seven just about the same, so until the last moment I didn't know which song would end were. It was an extremely close race.
Riders On The Storm ended up at #7, although it could easily have been at #4. It was the Doors' last big hit single: #1 in France, #7 in the Netherlands and Canada, #10 in Australia, #14 in the US, #20 in New Zealand, #22 in the UK, and #28 in Germany.
During one of the early rehearsal jams that fueled L.A. Woman, the Doors began riffing on Stan Jones' galloping 1948 country-western hit "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend," made famous by Vaughn Monroe. "Robbie was playing his twang guitar," Ray Manzarek recalled in Mr. Mojo Risin. "And Jim went, 'I got lyrics for that!' And he had Riders on the Storm." The moody words fit the equally foreboding music, and Manzarek's driving keyboard figure shifted the melody from a Morricone-esque "yippee ki-yay" to a lonely desert highway.
Here's (Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend by Vaughn Monroe:
Characteristically, Morrison's lyrics drew from a myriad of sources. The title was adapted from a passage in "Praise for an Urn" by poet Hart Crane, and other lines were inspired by his tumultuous relationship with long-term partner Pamela Courson. But the most memorable verse is culled from a self-penned screenplay inspired by the spree killer Billy Cook, who murdered six people – including a family – while hitchhiking to California in 1950. Though executed for his crimes, he is immortalized as the "killer on the road."
Speaking with Krieger and Manzarek, the philosopher Thomas Vollmer argues that the line "Into this world we're thrown" recalls Heidegger's concept of thrown-ness (human existence as a basic state). In 1963 at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Jim Morrison heard an influential lesson for him, where philosophers who had a critical look at the philosophical tradition were discussed, including Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger.
Morrison’s words were dredged from memories of hitchhiking down dusty Florida roads as a teenager en route to visit his girlfriend Mary Werbelow. The idea of a solitary road trip also emerged in his unfinished film HWY: An American Pastoral, where he looms like a deranged Charles Manson – the killer on the road. Ray Manzarek and bassist Jerry Scheff hit upon the loping A-minor-to-A-major riff underpinning a dark jazz figure. Engineer Bruce Botnick raided his effects library for the distant desert thunder that appears as a motif.
Krieger’s vibrato guitar solo is the perfect pathway leading from the deadly image of a slaughtered family to the invocation: "Girl, you gotta love your man" – which is possibly the most romantic few seconds in Morrison’s 27 years on the planet. Viewed as either a paean to his partner Pamela Courson or as lyric poetry, it’s a snapshot of a man who knew he was leaving The Doors and moving to Paris to woo his lover back.
Here it is:
Carlos Santana covered the song in 2010 with the recently deceased Chester Bennington of Linkin Park on lead vocals and Ray Manzarek on keyboards:
Earlier this year, Jazz vocalist Kama Ruby covered the song as a mash-up with Ghost Riders in the Sky. Here's an excerpt:
At #6 is the title track from the album L.A. Woman. By 1971, bloated and bearded, troubled by post-Miami litigation and something of a bete noire after various onstage incidents, Morrison looked like a man grown old before his time. Which makes it all the more remarkable that he managed to rouse himself for what may be his best set of performances. L.A. Woman, the Doors’ final album with him, finds the band returning to the blues but with a new, urban raw edge. The title track pays homage to their City of Angels. For Manzarek – who didn’t exactly shy from making grand pronouncements – the song was about “driving madly down the LA freeway. You’re a beatnik on the road, like Kerouac and Neal Cassady, barreling down the freeway as fast as you can go”. Densmore, meanwhile, finds the depiction of the city as a woman a “brilliant metaphor, ‘Cops in cars, never saw a woman so alone’ – great stuff. It’s metaphoric, the physicality of the town and thinking of her and how we need to take care of her, it’s my hometown”. The “Mr. Mojo rising” in the lyrics is often believed to refer to Morrison’s penis: in fact, it’s an anagram of Jim Morrison and a name for a voodoo charm widely used in the blues. Whatever one makes of the lyrics, beginning with an automobile noise and building to a driving pace, the song certainly captures the unique atmosphere of a city mythologized by everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The propulsive music barely gives you a chance to catch your breath before cruising into oblivion.
Here's a cover by Billy Idol:
Now, let's continue with last week's statistics. The number of total visits fell 28% from last week - the second decrease in a row. Neither Rob Halford (#3) nor Small-town Songs (#4) helped increase the site's traffic, in fact, last week's Doors' countdown and statistics is the most popular recent story, landing at this week's #2. At #1 is that gift that keeps on giving, George Maharis - and the top 5 is completed by another evergreen, Labi Siffre.
The country that impressively entered this week's top 10 for the first time was South Korea, while Canada, Spain, and Australia also had a good week, which meant that Belgium, Brazil, and the Philippines were forced out of the top 10, although they put up a good fight. As far as the all-time list is concerned, there was no movement and only limited fluctuation. The United Kingdom and Italy are still increasing their overall share, the United States, France, Russia, and Cyprus fell a little, while the rest remained steady.
Here are this week's Top 10 countries:
1. the United States
2. the United Kingdom
6. South Korea
10. the United Arab Emirates
Here are the other countries that graced us with their presence since our last statistics (alphabetically): Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, and Ukraine. Happy to have you all!
And here's the all-time Top 10:
1. the United States = 41.4%
2. Greece = 9.0%
3. the United Kingdom = 8.3%
4. France = 7.3%
5. Russia = 4.4%
6. Germany = 3.9%
7. Cyprus = 1.36%
8. Italy = 1.25%
9. the United Arab Emirates = 0.66%
10. Belgium = 0.65%
That's all for today, folks. Till the next one!