The Doors - Waiting For The Sun
It's almost as unloved as the album that would follow it and alongside Led Zeppelin's Houses Of The Holy, is now part of a Trivial Pursuit question but in accepting that Waiting For The Sun lacks both the drama and purpose of either The Doors or Strange Days, it can still be thought of as an album of cracking pop songs and ballads, including some of the best the band ever recorded. Showing, however, that Jim Morrison rode his luck a little too far, the record sleeve shows that Waiting For The Sun, as eventually issued, was only part of the album the singer had intended to release.
During the band's early life in the clubs of Los Angeles, The Doors had worked up two epics - The End and When The Music's Over that were recorded for The Doors and Strange Days, respectively. The band's fourth album would see The Soft Parade added to that list but by the time of Waiting For The Sun, Morrison had written a suite of songs that would dwarf all of the band's other efforts - The Celebration Of The Lizard. Leading off against Morrison's own legend, this piece, which varied slightly around seventeen minutes or thereabout, was formed out of seven separate songs - Lions in the Street, Wake Up, A Little Game, The Hill Dwellers, Not To Touch The Earth, Names Of The Kingdom and The Palace Of Exile - and, given the inclusion of the lyrics presented in the sleeve notes to this album, featured Morrison as a shaman intent on taking his followers through empty cities, surrealist adventures and onwards, through exile, to an invasion of his tome town at dawn.
As with both The End and When The Music's Over, The Celebration Of The Lizard was a patchy effort with as many great moments as there are those that drag through Morrison's dull lyrics - "I am the lizard king, I can do anything...I made the blue cars go away" - and whilst the review of Absolutely Live! will look at it further, it's noted here for Paul Rothchild making it clear to the band that, on this album at least, The Celebration Of The Lizard was one epic too far and would have dragged a clutch of pop songs and ballads into something that both critics and fans would have torn the band apart over. With only one song out of the seven making it onto the album - Not To Touch The Earth - Waiting For The Sun feels incomplete and, at a shade over 33mins, which includes the four minutes of Not To Touch The Earth, is shorter than either of the band's two earlier albums. As the album jumps between pop, ballads, acapella chants, psychedelia and calls to arms, Waiting For The Sun all too clearly lacks something to give it form and to bind it into an album.
And therein lies the problem with Waiting For The Sun for, whilst both of the earlier albums and the three later ones present something of a complete sound, be it the psychedelic music hall of their debut, the come down of Strange Days or the hard rock of Morrison Hotel/Hard Rock Cafe, this third album does much but gets nowhere. Back in July 1968, Waiting For The Sun was seen as a stuttering arrest by The Doors and effectively halted their increasingly successful profile but unlike The Soft Parade, which is generally thought of as a dud even now, time has been kind to this album.
Without ever trying too hard, Waiting For The Sun really isn't a bad album, beginning with Jim Morrison's homage to The Kinks, Hello, I Love You. Morrison never hid the similarities between this song and All Day And All Of The Night but, as with LA Woman's Love Her Madly, Hello, I Love You feels out of place. Then again, as the point has already been made, everything feels out of place on Waiting For The Sun, whether the sun-kissed pop of Love Street, the warm waltz of Wintertime Love, they psychedelic flamenco of Spanish Caravan or the end-of-war soundtrack of The Unknown Soldier. And yet, Waiting For The Sun does work and contains some of The Doors' best songs - documenting the end of a relationship, Summer's Almost Gone is filled with regret whilst Yes, The River Knows sees Robbie Krieger sticking to the use of raw nature in his lyrics, something that had previously produced Light My Fire. Unlike the pop of the earlier song, however, Yes, The River Knows sees Morrison bringing a little of the weariness of Morrison Hotel/Hard Rock Cafe and LA Woman to this earlier album. With My Wild Love and Not To Touch The Earth, The Doors recorded a couple of songs that ought not to work at all - drunken chanting and surrealist psychedelia, respectively - but it is with the album's last track, Five To One, that The Doors celebrated their move away from the hippie respectability.
The Doors, like Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix, were key figures in late-sixties psychedelic rock but, with Morrison grasping disaster when otherwise heading for success, Five To One was The Doors dismissing the hippies as being unable to pull themselves into a movement. With a threatening tone throughout, particularly in Morrison's spoken ending, "C'mon honey, go along home and wait for me baby, I'll be there in just a little while / Y'see I got to go out in this car with these people and...", Five To One gets The Doors to a place where court appearances, arrests, a break up and an overdose in Paris became all the more likely.
Waiting For The Sun will never have the impact of the four albums that bookend The Doors' career, being The Doors, Strange Days, Morrison Hotel/Hard Rock Cafe and LA Woman - but as a mixed bag of music that shows the variation in the band's sound, this is a short treat of an album that, without Rothchild's insistence, could have been something greater.