Waiting for the Sun
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2007, Volume 14, #6
Written by John Metzger
Tue June 19, 2007, 06:00 AM CDT
From a commercial perspective, Waiting for the Sun, The Doors’ third outing, accomplished its goals. It was, after all, the band’s first #1 album; likewise, Hello, I Love You returned the group to the top of the singles chart for the first time since Light My Fire. After the release of Oliver Stone’s biopic about the ensemble, the set obtained a momentary boost in stature when the director not only had recognized the possibilities that lurked within it but also had used its songs to boost the visual impact of his film. Since then, however, Waiting for the Sun quietly has come back down to Earth, and in doing so, it has regained the distinction of being the most frustrating effort within The Doors’ canon because it contains such an overwhelming amount of unrealized potential.
The preceding year had been a whirlwind of change for The Doors. The group had gone from being a mainstay of Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip to having a national profile. The recording of two albums combined with a relentless touring and publicity schedule as well as front man Jim Morrison’s increasingly excessive drinking had begun to take its toll on the outfit. Wanting to concoct an epic tune along the lines of The End and When the Music’s Over, the band pushed itself too hard to finish The Celebration of the Lizard. When the recording sessions began to drag, The Doors scrapped its plans completely, salvaged Not to Touch the Earth by paring it down to a four-minute length, and rushed Waiting for the Sun to market. It’s no wonder that the endeavor sounded so unfocused and scattered.
As the "work-in-progress" rendition of The Celebration of the Lizard — which is featured on the recent reissue of Waiting for the Sun — makes clear, The Doors made the right decision to jettison its development of the poem. It was, in effect, an extension of the concepts explored on Horse Latitudes — the same ones that would fill Morrison’s solo outing An American Prayer — but it had spiraled out of control. Without the proper time to groom the art-rock piece, it never would have worked, and under immense pressure to finish the album, The Doors’ opportunities were evaporating quickly.
The abandonment of The Celebration of the Lizard, however, exacerbated the general problems that plagued Waiting for the Sun in general. By hastily assembling the remaining recordings in its arsenal, the group wound up with an outing that was considerably less cohesive than Strange Days or its self-titled debut had been. Instead of making smooth transitions from one song to the next with an interconnected stream of thought that bound its contents together, the set largely consisted of song pairings. Love Street answered Hello, I Love You; Summer’s Almost Gone slipped seamlessly into Wintertime Love; and the call-to-arms in Five to One was a response to the antiwar statement outlined in the theatrical refrains of The Unknown Soldier.
Buried within the new version of Waiting for the Sun are hints of the magnificent and powerful statement that the album could have been. In the proper context, The Celebration of the Lizard’s tale of a "mass exodus from modern civilization" — an idea that is echoed musically in My Wild Love’s tribal chant — not only would have flourished, but it also would have turned the outing into a true, final chapter in The Doors’ opening trilogy. In its scattered state, however, The Doors’ notion of breaking free from reality to achieve a society that was filled with people who had reached a higher state of consciousness remained lost, having never found its way to the other side of Strange Days’ disorienting textures.
Waiting for the Sun is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box