Today we remember iconic Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison, on what would have been his 73rd birthday (Dec. 8). Among Morrison’s legacy is a catalog of psychedelic rock/blues music, books of poetry, a notorious photo/college dorm room poster, and ties to the mysterious “27 Club.”
As a tribute, revisit 10 classic songs below — some established as bona fide classic rock staples, others deep cuts.
1. “Roadhouse Blues”
“The future’s uncertain and the end is always near.”
While you and I know the lyric to be “woke up this morning and I got myself a beer,” according to the book “Light My Fire” by keyboardist Ray Manzarek, Morrison was actually singing “woke up this morning and I got myself a beard,” referencing his waking after an alleged three weeks of drug-induced sleep.
The song peaked at No. 50 on the Hot 100 chart in 1970.
2. “Waiting For The Sun”
“This is the strangest life I’ve ever known.”
Not to be confused with The Doors’ first and only No. 1 album Waiting For The Sun (1968), the song was released on the band’s fifth album, Morrison Hotel (1970).
3. “Break On Through (To The Other Side)”
“We chased our pleasures here.”
The first single released by the band discouraged airplay with the lyric “she gets high.” A censored version exists, and is available for purchase on iTunes, where one uninformed customer gave the song a 1 star rating. “I want my money back. I can’t hear Jim Morrison say high. Why did I buy this album?” Buyer beware.
4. “Light My Fire”
“Try to set the night on fire.”
In 1967, the band was invited to perform “Light My Fire” on the family-friendly Ed Sullivan Show, but instructed to change the lyric “girl we couldn’t get much higher” to “girl we couldn’t’ get much better.” Morrison pulled a bait-and-switch and the band was banned from returning to the show.
The song spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart in 1967.
5. “People Are Strange”
“Streets are uneven when you’re down.”
The song about being an outsider peaked at No. 12 on the Hot 100 chart in 1967.
The Echo & the Bunnymen cover, played in the opening credits of the 1987 vampire flick The Lost Boys, undeniably sets the tone as a family moves to a new city.
6. “Love Her Madly”
“All your love is gone, so sing a lonely song.”
Guitarist Robby Krieger wrote “Love Her Madly” about his girlfriend at the time, and it peaked at No. 11 on the Hot 100 chart in 1971. Morrison died shorty after the song was released.
7. “The Ghost Song”
“Music inflames temperament.”
Seven years after Morrison’s death, the band released their ninth and last studio album, An American Prayer, comprised of music and spoken word. “The Ghost Song” is pure poetry in motion. At 4:05 minutes in, the song goes silent for 35 seconds until Morrison’s voice is heard again. “One more thing… Thank you oh lord for the white blind light.”
8. “Riders On The Storm”
“Like a dog without a bone, an actor out on loan.”
The song entered the Hot 100 chart on July 3rd 1971, the day Morrison died, and later peaked at No. 14 on the Hot 100 chart the same year.
9. “When The Music’s Over”
“Music is your only friend.”
“When The Music’s Over” is the last track on The Doors’ second album, Strange Days (1967).
10. “The End”
“This is the end, beautiful friend.”
“The End” is the last track on The Doors’ debut album (1967). The controversial lyrics, “Father, I want to kill you. Mother, I want to f–k you,” led to the band being fired from their gig as house band at infamous Hollywood club, Whisky a Go Go.
Watch keyboardist Ray Manzarek tell the story below.
Morrison was quoted as saying “It could be almost anything you want it to be.”