During the presentation of the songs that would be part of the sixth album of the Doors, L.A. Woman, an uncomfortable and very tense atmosphere was palpable in the Sunset Sound studios. Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore Y Robby warrior they awaited the verdict of what many considered “the fifth door”, Paul A. Rothchild; the man who had produced all his works and who with his pioneering techniques in the recording studio had collaborated in creating the psychedelic-rock so particular of the Doors.
The producer put his hands to his head as he pondered the decision he was about to make. Were you willing to work on another album of the Doors? With this group he had achieved the first gold records for the modest label Elektra. His first two albums The Doors Y Strange Days They appeared at the height of the hippie movement, during the year of the summer of love, encouraging an entire generation to open the doors of perception and cross to the other side. The following year they would release the single “The Unknown Soldier” as a reaction to the Vietnam War. In just two years they had become one of the icons of the counterculture thanks above all to the exceptional figure and the inspired and transgressive lyrics of Jim Morrison. According Paul Rotchild in the late 1960s there were Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Doors.
But the 1960s were over and the hippie utopia was fading. The murders perpetrated by the followers of Charles Manson they had happened too close. The Republican administration of Richard Nixon wanting to delegitimize the idols of the student movements and Jim Morrison it would be one of his favorite victims.
After a fateful concert in Miami, Morrison would be charged and convicted of exhibitionism and use of offensive language. He had been an idiot and the rest of the gang felt helpless and upset; They couldn’t tolerate his attitude any longer, but they couldn’t do without him either. All their concerts canceled, censored on radio stations, banned from almost all venues … the only thing left for them was to continue recording albums. It didn’t cost too much to Paul Rothchild convince the Doors to return to the rockier style of their first album, after the irregular and pretentious Soft Parade that he had not finished convincing. The result was another great album by Doors, the Morrison Hotel with which they managed to get out of the well in which their eccentric and charismatic leader had put them.
Now they were in the position of recording another album and so Rothchild had been able to listen, after several days of rehearsal, the group suffered an evident lack of motivation and ideas. Pasotism and the deplorable and unpredictable state of Jim Morrison it was what bothered him the most. The singer seemed determined to ruin all the work done. Fed up with his public image and become a drunk kamikaze, he had entered a self-destructive spiral. Rothchild, who had just suffered death from an overdose of Janis Joplin while producing the album Pearl, I did not feel like repeating a similar experience. Doors They were already able to enthuse the producer, nor was he apparently capable of motivating them more. So he approached the group and let them know that he was retiring and that if they really wanted to make another album, they could self-produce themselves. He would then leave the studio feeling that a great weight was lifted off his shoulders.
The four members of the band were left in a state of shock, totally devastated. The group that encouraged to “kill the father” suddenly felt like an orphan. Luckily they weren’t alone. Bruce Botnick, the production engineer, came to the rescue: “I will produce you. We can co-produce ”. Botnick, who had also collaborated on all his previous albums, realized that to revive the Doors It was essential to regain the good feeling, enjoy the creative development of the album and simplify the recording process as much as possible. Where they were most inspired and animated was always in their rehearsal room, “the Workshop”, so right there, in the home of the Doors, improvised a recording studio. Another important aspect was to avoid the exhausting perfectionism that characterized Rothchild. A new philosophy ended up being imposed, more out of necessity than conviction, where mistakes were welcome as long as they were executed with feeling: “fuck the mistakes, we go for feeling”. With L.A. Woman They would look for the original essence of that band that took its first steps in the garage of the Manzarek, and that he enjoyed covering the old glues of the blues.
The album opens with “The changeling”, a good letter of introduction to what awaits us on this album. A forceful blues with funk guitar tribute to James Brown. Without the presence of Rothchild, the members of the Doors they wondered who would be in charge of controlling Jim Morrison. But with the greater freedom afforded by the new methods of work, Morrison He responded by acting with greater responsibility and total involvement, as can be seen from this first issue. The Doors they wanted “The changeling” as the first single from the album but Jac Holzman, President of Elektra Records, he opted for the next song, “Love her madly.” Own Krieger, the song’s author, objected that it was too commercial. But Holzman he didn’t give in, rightly intuiting that the catchy pop-rock theme would be a hit.
The album continues with two songs that are pure blues. Jim Morrison Masterfully uses the style that was born expressly to convey sadness and helplessness. In “Been down so long” Morrison he screams, groans, growls, and even his voice breaks when his battered vocal cords are no longer able to transmit everything he intends. In parallel Krieger does a spectacular job of slide guitar. “Cars Hiss by my window” is a flatter theme, and one that is surely based on those who criticize the L.A. Woman of being a nondescript blues record. But the theme fulfills its function of slowing down the revolutions and rocking us into a hypnotic trance that prepares us for what comes next; one of the great masterpieces of rock history.
“LA woman” is the unofficial anthem of Los Angeles. Jim Morrison he would pay his particular tribute to the city by portraying its urban underworld: cheap motels, murders, topless bars, police cars … the night-time city that for him was the most real, the most interesting. Morrison amuses himself with the words, forming an anagram with his name, in the part of the Mr. Mojo Risin’ colloquially translatable as “mr. Erecting penis ”. While, John Densmore he increases the tempo simulating the sexual act until they all reach the total climax together.
The title track of the album was composed entirely in the studio and represents the quintessential way of working of the Doors, with all the musicians actively participating in the creation and in an evident state of grace. The bass of Jerry Scheff, that next to Marc Benno on rhythm guitar they would be the only studio musicians who would join in this album, bringing greater force and depth to the new sound of the band.
The B side of L.A. Woman is more eclectic, it shows the diversity of styles in which the Doors. It opens with a disturbing guitar phrase that would give way to “L’America”. Haunting psychedelic rock like a bad acid trip, albeit upbeat and circus in the chorus. “Hyacinth house” would explore the less common folk-rock style of the Doors, one of the band’s hidden gems with Ray Manzarek giving samples of his classical training with a wink at Chopin. “Crawling king snake”, the song popularized by John Lee Hooker, it was one of the first blues that they covered and that had finally found its place in the blues album of the Doors. “The Wasp (Texas Radio & The Big Beat)” is an experimental rarity. Shows us that Jim Morrison He was not only one of the great poets of rock, but also one of the best reciting: “No eternal reward will forgive us for wasting this dawn.” An entire declaration of principles.
The album would end with another great classic: “Riders on the storm”, the second single from the album. Such a representative theme of the Doors which was the name chosen by the tribute band of Manzarek Y Krieger thirty years later (after Densmore not allow them to dishonor the name “The Doors“). It was also the last song they recorded and the moment they realized they had done it again. The Doors they were smiling again. Once again they had cleared all the obstacles they had encountered and could be proud of what they had just achieved. Unfortunately Jim Morrison I would destroy the magic of the moment with the definitive obstacle: “In two days I’m going to Paris … Pam it is already there … it has everything ready. I need a break, I don’t know when I’ll be back ”.
L.A. Woman is hopelessly linked to the mystery that surrounds the death of Jim Morrison, buried just three months after the album was released. The followers of the band continue searching among the lyrics of the album for clues, prophetic phrases, signs that could give some explanation about the sad fate that awaits the singer. Speculations aside, the truth is that in this album Jim Morrison he is especially vulnerable, lonely and desperate in songs like “Hyacinth house”, “The wasp”, “Riders on the Storm”, “Been down so long”, “The changeling” or “LA Woman” herself.
While his whole world collapsed, haunted by justice and unable to abandon vices and bad company. Jim Morrison managed to find a last moment of inspiration and enjoy, once again, the creative power of a rock band. Fifty years later it’s worth listening to L.A. Woman, the last performance of Jim Morrison with the Doors.