The Doors – The music and the impact of ‘L.A. Woman’

The Doors mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Whether you were a fan of Jim Morrison mind-opening lyrics and leather pants, RayManzarek’s hypnotic keys and organ lines, John Densmore’s four by four beats or Robby Krieger’s blues riffs, they produced some of the best dirty rock’n’roll known to man.

This month marks the 45th Anniversary of The Doors’ last and most prolific album, ‘L.A. Woman’. Coming off the back of some serious turmoil for the band, it was a return to their roots and reaffirmed their love of blues-based rock’n’roll.

‘L.A. Woman’ had been released for barely three months when Jim Morrison died in a Paris bathtub in the summer of 1971 and acted as a fitting swan song for one of the most important rock bands not only of their generation, but of all time.

The album holds some of the bands most memorable music, songs that people hold close to their hearts. Ahead of the Classic Album Sundays listening session on April 17 (tickets available here) we asked a bunch of musicians, DJs and music lovers to share their favorite Doors track from the album and what it means to them.

Lovefingers – The man behind the E.S.P Institute label, producer and DJ

L,A. Woman is about as iconic as an album could be for Los Angeles. That said, whilst I do respect the Doors as a historical monument, I’ve just never been the biggest fan. L.A. Woman is a good example though, because as with many albums in life, there is at least one treasure in it for me, I skip the rest and drop my needle on Riders On The Storm. I appreciate this song for its narrative quality and obviously the iconic lyrics, but mostly and simply for its production which, in my mind, sits alongside the greatest breaks such as Bob James, Billy Cobham or Grover Washington Jr. It’s the raindrop Rhodes, it’s magical.

Ron Like Hell – Classic Album Sundays host and vinyl connoisseur

Crawling King Snake – Attributed to Blind Lemon Jefferson and other blues greats, The Doors version is polished end of the sixties blue eyed blues perfection. A great slow dance blues tune causing everyone to shimmy and enchant any spectator in the room. On the CAS audio hi-fi, I think people will appreciate the sexy delivery of Morrison’s vocals and the delightful improvisation of the band strumming in time with Jim.

Barbie Bertisch – Classic Album Sundays host and DJ

Riders on the Storm – For me, it’s not about a favorite song or album; The Doors is a state of mind, a musical high like very few other bands are able to deliver on. LA Woman is a journey in its entirety; If I had to pick, Riders On The Storm is the perfect closer. “Take him by the hand – Make him understand…”

The rainfall and thunder, the strumming and first keys that kick in; it all comes together and creates this illusion of a dystopian western past that comes together only when Morrison’s voice sweeps in, moody and entrancing. To this day, it makes me sway, eyes closed, from beginning to end. It’s one of the most visual songs I’ve ever heard. If Jarmusch were to make a western and give it a supernatural, reptile (ahem, lizard) twist, then I think this track would be key.

Heidi Lawden – DJ and music lover

L.A Women was an important album to me – which is odd in a way because there are really only two tracks I love from the album and that have stood the test of time for me.

Riders on the Storm of course is sublime, as soon as the sound of the storm comes in to open the track the hairs will stand up on my arms/back of my neck – every time. It’s wonderfully crafted, subtle and sublime.  When I was a teen the track would always be played at skate at BMX competitions – I always thought that was perfect even though I’m sure it’s so far from the use the artists would ever have conceived of.

The title L.A. Women was the other track for me, I had a lifelong fascination with L.A growing up, California seemed progressive to me musically all those Laurel Canyon artists were really inspiring to me. The Doors and Fleetwood Mac were a chart topping gateway to all that incredible musical output of the time and beyond.  The hippy movement the Hart to Hart’s with their matching Mercedes cars (lol) and the other underbelly side of L.A, the cults, the Source family, the Mansons, I don’t ever want to glamorize that but well growing up in the north of England it just felt really cool and different and I wanted in, so I’d listen to this track and imagine what my life could be there. I now live in Laurel Canyon so to deny the influence of this track and all the other’s it introduced me too would be futile.  The power that music can have over you growing up along with how it transcends and goes to places you never think it will as you make it in the studio, well that really sums up why I do what I do.

Tommy James – musician Garage Land Curator

The Changeling is the opening track on the greatest blues rock album ever made . The Lizard King at his intoxicated peak , fat , bearded in wrap around shades and black leather jeans delivering each vocal line with a spit and a growl that makes you want to jump on a Harley and ride through the desert .

It’s power , it’s drive with The Doors unleashing years of pent up testosterone and possibly creating the first dance rock cross over ever – this track has inspired me deeply as both a musician and DJ . This is the death of rock and roll as it was – I can’t wait to hear this on the Classic Album Sunday’s system at Good Room this Sunday.

Chris Video – DJ and founder of Tropical Goth Records

My favorite song on the Doors L.A. Woman album is Riders on the Storm because of it’s dark and sad undertones of something grim unfolding. The first time I really listened to it deeply, I realized it was mentioning murder, death, birth and love. Also later learning more about The Doors, it seemed this song was written and recorded at the zenith of Jim Morrison’s meltdown/breakthrough where he was fully engaged in contemplating death & the afterlife. Pretty groovy!

Classic Album Sundays is hosting The Doors ‘L.A. Woman’ listening session at Good Room on April 17 at 4pm. They will be sharing the music that inspired it and the story behind it before playing the full LP on our audiophile system. Tickets are $8 advanced here.

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