The Doors: The Soft Parade Page 2

Another of Robby Krieger's compositions, 'Touch Me' was originally titled 'Hit Me' – as you might say when playing poker or blackjack – but Morrison insisted on changing the line and title as he was worried that a fan might take this invitation too literally.

Hellfire Preacher
One of the highlights of The Soft Parade is Morrison's 'Shaman's Blues', which refers to his interest in the cultural role of the shaman – and the fact that he had also been described by some as the rock equivalent. But the lyrics dug beneath that image to reveal both doubt and insecurity. And although he sings the line 'the whole world's a saviour', he clearly finds that sentiment difficult to believe.


The inclusion of horns and strings on some songs had been suggested by Rothchild and rather reluctantly accepted by some of the band. But whereas the ornate figures written by string arranger Paul Harris might have been intended to give the set a similar feel to Forever Changes by Elektra labelmates Love, at times they swamp the songs, obscuring The Doors' instrumental interplay.

Krieger was ambivalent, but once the group agreed to pursue this tack he got on with working with Harris and is particularly pleased with the orchestration on the track 'Wishful Sinful'. He said, 'I would give him ideas for a horn line here and there and hope for the best'.

But Manzarek was particularly enthusiastic about expanding the instrumental scope of the band. He said in 2010: 'We had made three albums with the same formation, and at some point or another you want to do an album with expanded sound. So you want to have some horns and strings. My God – just everybody was doing it. And we were gonna do it too'.


The keyboard player described the nine-minute title track as 'a suite of tunes', and the enigmatic musical collage begins with Morrison addressing the listener like a hellfire preacher warning against 'petitioning the Lord with song'.

Miami Exposure
The Doors had played the prestigious Madison Square Garden in January 1969 augmented by horns and strings. Manzarek reckoned that, 'It didn't work for a lot of the critics and teenagers. [They said] "We want to see 'Light My Fire'. The sexy lead singer"'. But a full summer tour to promote The Soft Parade ended up being cancelled due to the fall-out of one of rock's most notorious incidents, a Doors concert at the Dinner Key Auditorium, Miami, that March.


Morrison was increasingly intent on provoking the crowd. He was fuelled by the confrontational ideas expressed by the French writer Antonin Artaud in his concept of the 'Theatre Of Cruelty', which had been compounded when he went to see The Living Theater, an avant-garde troupe who broke down taboos in performance and addressed the audience directly, at UCLA.

Indecent Proposal
Morrison's inebriated performance was pitched somewhere between a shamanic ritual and a drunk shouting at traffic. He berated the audience with, 'How long are you gonna let them push you around? You're all a bunch of slaves!'. A fight broke out and the promoter tried to stop the show, then Morrison exposed himself on stage. He was later arrested and charged with drunkenness, open profanity, lewd and lascivious behaviour, and indecent exposure.


The musical diversions of The Soft Parade were a one-off rather than a signpost to a new direction. And while the album received a lukewarm reception in the press it reached No 6 in the Billboard charts. In 1970, Morrison spoke of the Miami incident as if it had been part of a conscious strategy to rid himself of the mantle of rock star.

If so it was unsuccessful as he clearly still had work to do. The Doors went on to produce the multifaceted but harder rocking (and more warmly received) albums Morrison Hotel in 1970 and LA Woman in 1971, the year of the singer's untimely death.