‘The band have weaved a thick mosaic of language and sound which can only be described as a masterpiece’
by Loz McManus
Blending a distinct mix of psychedelic and classic rock, Waiting for the Sun (WFTS) was truly Jim Morrison and company’s staple on the era’s sound. Returning to music creation a year after the iconic release of L.A. Woman was a difficult feat for most to fathom, but the Doors seemed to harness this adversity and aimed it aggressively to produce the most audacious album in their collection.
The album introduces itself with a welcome, upbeat familiarity which fans had come to adore from the band, starting with ‘Hello, I Love You’. This song digs the foundations of forlorn lost love which features heavily in Morrison’s lyrics throughout, and concurrently provides a taste of the sixties rock and roll which later comes to highlight the diversity of WFTS when compared to other songs in the album. The late 1960s boast desperately significant years for the evolution of musical landscapes. With introductions of psychedelic geniuses such as Syd Barrett alongside the modern rock and roll brought to the scene by The Beatles, The Doors were able to ride this tidal wave of ingenuity whilst dipping into both pools successfully. Songs like ‘The Unknown Soldier’ on the same album as ‘Wintertime Love’ confirmed to the world their competence in the aforementioned areas.
The Doors formed a complex quartet of artistry which has been rivalled by few since. It combined Jim Morrison’s enveloping voice, Ray Manzarek’s progressive keyboard, a soulful touch of drums from John Densmore and a masterful control over the guitar brought by Robby Krieger. The band’s connection is epitomised by the song ‘Spanish Caravan’, which appears in the latter half of the album. The song begins with an outrageous display of impeccable guitar work from Bobby Krieger, incorporating flamenco to the already rich vault of styles the band had explored. Morrison’s lyrics puncture the set scene, adding further dimensions with each line. Before the listener can draw breath, the band have weaved a thick mosaic of language and sound which can only be described as a masterpiece. The connected soul of the band is also prevalent in many other songs throughout the album, notably in the beautifully spooky ‘The Unknown soldier’. A song stuffed with anti-war lyrics and marinated in a vibrantly unapologetic tune, this is the Doors at their best. It seems only they would be capable of demonstrating the sorrow of the Vietnam war through such a poignantly chilling song where Jim Morrison’s lyrics take the lead and the sounds of the other’s join the attack in a very deadly way.
When the only real complaint for an album is the brevity of the songs, a band has succeeded. This is surely the case with Waiting for the Sun as the band stray away from the longer, more experimental music they had established in their previous two albums. This album is less of a statement than the others but is equally as powerful and diverse. No song is more than 4:28 minutes and this enables each to be a new, fresh and brief peek in to the souls and minds of the bandmates. However, the absence of a longer entry somewhere in the middle of the album is somewhat noticeable. In the early stages of its formation, the band planned to include the track ‘The Celebration of the Lizard’. This would have taken up an entire side of the vinyl and been a true testament to their bravery as well as their creative prowess. Unfortunately, the band could not settle on a studio recording that they were happy with and the song never made it to Waiting for the Sun. This missing presence can be felt in the album as listeners are always waiting for the killer blow it would deliver, but never quite does.
Jim Morrison in this album, as with previous albums from the band, is the most essential and powerful piece in the jigsaw. His self-destructive and introspective aura captivates whoever dares listen, and Waiting for the sun is the perfect platform for him express it to its maximum point. He adopts many styles in the album, one of which is his tribal tenor which features on ‘My Wild Love’. Periodically fading in moaning screeches between his soft, melodic charms typifies his dynamic style which is then joined by stomps and claps, enhancing the a cappella genre of the piece. Morrison’s opening passage evolves slowly and breaks into powerful, full on cathartic chanting which remind the listener that he is there and not to be ignored.
There are many themes which permeate the album from anti-war to lost love. However, the most pertinent and shocking is the self-destructive decay of Jim Morrison which can be heard. His lyrics in songs like ‘Spanish Caravan’ and ‘My Wild Love’ depict his inner turmoil and need to escape or be taken away, “take me away Spanish caravan”. This album was a grasp at salvation through his music, causing tensions to run high amongst the band members, and in one recording session Densmore walked out and when asked about it had said, “I was just frustrated. Maybe I was trying to say to Jim not to be so self-destructive”. Despite the fallouts, his emotional distress was the catalyst for ensuring the album achieved its potency, and thus locks it in to a tragic paradox of splendour which shall certainly never be forgotten.