Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
The Doors Look Back on Jim Morrison's Indecent Exposure Incident and the Politically Motivated Attacks Against Them
- Posted on Feb 16th 2012 5:00PM by Chris Epting
Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images
The two-disc version of the iconic album, now 40 years old, features a never-before-heard song, 'She Smells So Nice,' which captures the band barreling through a full-throttle original before segueing into the blues standard 'Rock Me.' As the song closes, singer Jim Morrison can be heard chanting, "Mr. Mojo Risin'," an anagram of his name that was made famous during the bridge of the album's title track.
In addition to 'She Smells So Nice,' the second disc of the L.A. Woman CD reissue includes eight never-before-heard versions of songs from the album, including alternate takes and studio chatter between the songs. The banter transports listeners to the Doors Workshop: the West Hollywood rehearsal space where they recorded the album.
Recently, Spinner sat down with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger to talk about the new release and the days gone by.
How does L.A. today compare with the city as it was during the 'L.A. Woman' sessions?
Krieger: It's just more crowded. I still get the same kind of feel when I go through Hollywood. Maybe not exactly what it was in the summer of love, but people still come here to make it. It's not changed that much. I pass by some of the places and I can picture us there. I've never left, so I don't get too nostalgic.
Manzarek: To me, L.A. is dirtier and more frantic than it used to be. It lost the cool of the beach. It's gone. It's not a beach town anymore; it's a frantic town that is like 'The Day of the Locust' of the 21st century.
The fact that you recorded this in your rehearsal space seems to have played a big part in the sound of the record.
Krieger: It's why 'L.A. Woman' sounds like it does. It was a weird place to record. It had been an office, and then we cut some walls out and made it a rehearsal space. And it just sounded really good there. Today, people do it all the time, but back then it was a radical idea, not be under the gun of hundreds of dollars an hour in a conventional studio. That tends to make you hurry and worry.
Manzarek: What's funny is, the old space hasn't changed hardly at all. It's been a number of restaurants but the building is still right there. That downstairs room where we recorded, man, if he saw what happened to it, Jim would never have gone to Paris! [Laughs] If only it looked like that back then. The bar, the tiled floor, the great Italian food. That stocked bar would have made Jim stay. It would have been 'Morrison's Cantina.' The hell with 'Morrison Hotel'!
Robby, you did a lot of the songwriting with Jim, including a big hit off the record.
Krieger: The hit single was 'Love Her Madly,' which I thought was too commercial even though I wrote it. But to me the best song on the album is 'L.A. Woman.' That came together as a real group effort. At the time, I never imagined people would still be talking about that song. But I guess if you do something right, it's going to last.
Manzarek: The song 'L.A. Woman' started off as a sort of slow blues tune and I said to the guys no, this is 'L.A. WOMAN,' she is moving 70 miles an hour, driving down the coast highway. It's Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac, hauling ass! Jim, maybe in his GT 500 Mustang, barreling down the 101 freeway to L.A. from San Francisco. I painted that picture, beatniks on the road, hauling ass, along the coast toward the city of night. And then the song changed.
Was that sort of "picture painting" a device you used often to influence a song?
Manzarek: I would only paint the picture if I felt the song needed something extra. 'Riders on the Storm' was a vague country western version of the classic 'Ghost Riders in the Sky.' I said, "Time out, let me mess around with this a bit." So the picture became Jim and the Indians, on the highway as a kid in the desert, but this time he's acting the part of a madman, a killer on the road, and it's dangerous and there is some rain and thunder in the desert and Jim is out there and we are with him, playing this jazzy theme behind him.
What was it like for you guys to hear the just-discovered song, 'She Smells So Nice'?
Krieger: I love all the outtakes. Some are fairly close to what we ended up with, but hearing the new song blew us away. To hear Jim singing "Mr. mojo risin'" totally took us by surprise.
Manzarek: It had been forgotten, completely. Nobody knew it existed, totally came out of the blue. "Did I play on this?" I didn't remember it -- but it's me! Total buried treasure, the jewel in third eye of a Buddha that had fallen out over the centuries, buried deep into the sand and then this big excavation produced it. [In a foreign accent] "Look at this big ruby, look at the ruby, we're rich, we're rich!"
Do any specific shows jump out at you from back then?
Krieger: By the time we recorded 'L.A. Woman,' we were winding down on the live stuff. Because of the Miami incident [when Jim Morrison was charged with exposing himself onstage] and the problems we had up in New Haven [when Morrison was arrested mid-concert for antagonizing police], we got sort of banned. There was this thing called the Hall Owners Association and they kind of banned us because of what Jim was doing onstage. They were complaining about Jim whipping it out onstage, which he didn't do, by the way: 500 photos were entered as evidence at the trial and not one showed anything of the sort. Interestingly, the play 'Old Calcutta' was playing right down the street from the venue in Miami. It featured full-frontal nudity, yet they only came down on us. I think it was all very politically motivated. People were running for office, so we were a good target.
Manzarek: Those were very notable shows of course, in New Haven and Miami. Earlier, I fondly remember our show at the Hollywood Bowl. The bill that night? The Chambers Brothers, Steppenwolf and the Doors as headliners. Think about that! But the shows at the Whisky a Go Go are some of my most favorite. People were so mesmerized. Jim was so intense. 'The killer awoke before dawn,' he'd say [during performances of 'The End]. Then, all the go-go dancers and hippie-chick, Indian-style dancers would sort of stop and listen. Then you'd have Jim, releasing them, with all of his power: 'Father, I want to kill you.' And we'd crash down hard on our instruments to set up his next line, 'Mother, I want to F--- you!'
And then we got fired [laughs].