By the time the Doors released their third record, ‘Waiting for the Sun’, in 1968, the band’s leader, Jim Morrison, was already on the downward spiral and becoming more of a self-destructive wreck by the moment. The interesting thing about this, though, is that Morrison seemed to inject every bit of this into his creative fervor. This isn’t something that just any self-destructive musician is capable of accomplishing. In fact, generally speaking, an artist’s quality of material suffers when they get themselves onto a downward trajectory. On that same point, it goes without saying that Morrison wasn’t your typical self-destructive rock star.
The opening track on the record is “Hello, I Love You”, which was a simple tune inspired by Morrison and keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, watching girls walk by on a beach. As is true with the bulk of the Doors’ material, the following track, “Love Street”, would aim at a much higher poetic scope and theme than the opening track. This track, Morrison wrote about his love interest, Pamela Courson, but as was true with Morrison’s nature, the songwriting portrays a level of uncertainty within its romantic expressions. After this track, the band give us “Not to Touch the Earth”, which is one of the most chaotic tracks in their catalog. Moving ahead, the second half of the record is where the band experiments with interesting new territory. The tracks “Spanish Caravan” and “My Wild Love” see the band playing with musical ideas that they simply hadn’t on their previous records, which spits in the face of the seemingly conventional wisdom that this record wasn’t as daring or a strong as its predecessors had been. Some of Morrison’s best poetry can also be found on the second half of this record on the track, “Yes, the River Knows”. This record closes with what is the Doors’ most anarchic song, “Five to One”, giving an added weight to Morrison’s unchained character and personality. It’s also worth noting that the other band members are locked in throughout this record. When talking about this band, it can become too easy to allow Morrison to overshadow the other members.
Contrary to popular opinion surrounding this record, it is, indeed, just as good as either of its predecessors. Well, it’s at least as good as the band’s self-titled debut. It might not be quite as strong overall as ‘Strange Days’, in terms of consistency. The fact is, and this is the reason that so many rock journalists get this wrong, is the band’s first two records had been so exciting, innovative, and daring that, in most of their eyes, ‘Waiting for the Sun’ was doomed from the very beginning. The truth is that at this point in time (one could argue of all time), the Doors were the absolute best band in the world. Morrison’s poetry was second to none and that, matched with his larger-than-life, chaotic persona, ensured that the Doors were equipped with a level of intellectual and emotional fragility that would draw them an unbelievable amount of intrigue. Morrison, unfortunately, would go on to become that tragic figure that you can’t help but root for; he was the hero that came to free the masses and fell in his pursuit. Had he survived, it’s interesting to think about whether or not the band’s legacy would be perceived any differently today, and if so, how? In the meantime, let us all revel in the fact that the music presses were wrong on this release.