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The Doors - The Soft Parade

On July 18, 1969, "The Doors" released their fourth studio album, "The Soft Parade".


1969 was a difficult and not an easy year for "The Doors" and this album only added to the problems at home and abroadת that the band had to deal with.


It all started in March during the band's performance in Miami, Florida. Singer Jim Morrison is suspected of exposing his penis in public during the show. He was arrested and put on trial, and the band was forced to pay large sums of money during and after the trial. This incident was the first to herald the beginning of the band's disintegration. As a result, many great entrepreneurs have started canceling performances and some say that as a result the band was not even invited to the mythical Woodstock Festival held in the summer of that year. The meteoric band that was accustomed to consecutive sold-out shows, suddenly found itself having a hard time getting performances.


In addition, the single "Touch Me" which was released several months before the unnecessary incident, suddenly took on a completely different meaning and US radio stations refrained from playing it.


In the midst of all the hustle and bustle "outside", the band recorded their fourth album "The Soft Parade", and so the "home" issues also began to emerge.


Jim Morrison's alcohol problem worsened and this further highlighted the negative aspects of his personality. He rarely came to the studio and showed up for recordings only when he really had to. He started talking about a solo career at the time and it only further clouded the atmosphere that was tense in the first place. While Morrison struggled with alcohol use and unstable behavior, guitarist Robby Krieger had to stand out and wrote half of the material for the album, including all four singles released from it.


And if that's not enough, then the "explosion" came already in the recording of the song that opens the album "Tell All the People", written by guitarist Robby Krieger. The song included the lyrics: "Can't you see me growing, get your guns, The time has come To follow me down". Morrison thought the lyrics encouraged violence and he refused to sing them. When Krieger insisted Morrison agreed to sing the words but demanded that the credit for writing the song to be given only to Robby Krieger, to avoid any connection to them. This led to the fact that this album was the first in the band's history, in which credit was given to the writer of each song individually.


Now add to all this burning fuss the fact that producer Paul Rothchild pushed the band to use brass and string instruments and thus brought about a radical change in sound and style, as you can already hear from the first note of the album, and here's another reason why this album became controversial and drew harsh reviews.


And yet, and perhaps precisely because of that, we find it to be one of the band's most fascinating albums. When you remove all the fog and commotion around it, you can find a diverse, unique, and interesting album by a great band that stood at a musical crossroads that year, and there is not necessarily anything wrong with that.


The album features the big hit "Touch Me" whose original name was "Hit Me" written by Robby Krieger, apparently following the quarrels he had with his girlfriend at the time. Another version says that the song was written at all about the game "Blackjack" as the line implies "c'mon hit me, babe, I am not afraid". Either way, there is no doubt that Jim Morrison was the one who insisted on changing the name of the song to "Touch Me". It is interesting to note that the amazing saxophone solo Outro is played by Curtis Amy that beyond being an artist in his own right, was also a session player who played with artists such as Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and Carole King on the excellent album "Tapestry" from 1971.


The piece "Shaman's Blues" written by Morrison is simply mesmerizing. It puts the listener into a kind of trance to John Densmore's strange drumming rhythm, just like in "Shamanism." The song features an excellent vocal performance by Morrison and a howling guitar riff throughout. Interestingly, the bass line in the song is very reminiscent of that of Roger Waters in the song "Money" by Pink Floyd.


The songs "Do It" and "Wild Child" is the closest of all on the album to the root style of "The Doors". "Wild Child" features a sweeping blues rock riff and later a notable slide work by Krieger. Densmore's drumming is also amazing. Morrison's philosophical words have raised questions for years. The exact meaning of words is not clear to this day, but the guesses about the protagonist of the song ranged from Jesus to Morrison himself.


The song "Runnin 'Blue" was written as a tribute to Otis Redding who passed away in 1967, only 26 years old. The song opens with a kind of acapella in which Morrison sings the lyrics:


"Poor Otis, dead and gone

Left me here to sing his song

Pretty little girl with the red dress on

Poor Otis, dead and gone"


Beyond the dominant brass instruments, the song includes other instruments such as a mandolin played by Jesse McReynolds and a violin played by Jimmy Buchanan, both of which are intended to enhance the country style in the choruses. It's the only "Doors" song in which Robby Krieger shares lead vocals with Morrison.


The arrangement of Paul Harris' strings and brass instruments in the song "Wishful Sinful" simply goes out of the ordinary and enhances the beauty of the song. A perfect mixture of violins, flutes, an English horn, and more that blends well with Robbie Krieger's mesmerizing guitar and Morrison's melancholic voice, they all sit on the rhythm division of bass player Harvey Brooks and Densmore's drums.


The album ends powerfully with the theme "The Soft Parade" which lasts more than 8 minutes and which opens with the famous speech (shouting) section of Morrison, that grouped the lyrics from parts of songs he wrote at different times. A crazy and awesome piece that includes a combination of several musical styles rock, blues, baroque, soul, and even children's music.


For listening: Spotify, Apple Music


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