Song of the Week – Street Fighting Man, Rolling Stones; Peace Frog, The Doors; Peace Dog, The Cult

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Did anyone watch the four-part series on CNN called 1968 – The Year that Changed America? It was very good and highlighted the turmoil that gripped the country the same year that saw the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert Kennedy as well as marches against the Viet Nam War, the violent clashes at the Democratic National Convention and the civil rights protests by American athletes at the Summer Olympics.

And the strife wasn’t confined within the borders of the US. Events that took place in the summer of ’68 converged in rock music.

“Street Fighting Man” by the Rolling Stones was written about Tariq Ali, a British Pakistani political activist, after he marched on the American embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square in 1968 in a demonstration against the Vietnam war.

Keith Richards guitar part on “Street Fighting Man” was famously recorded using an acoustic guitar overloaded onto a cassette tape. No electric guitars are on the cut.

It took another 18 months for the Doors to weigh in, but they contributed “Peace Frog” from their Morrison Hotel album.

Wikipedia says the “lyrics were adapted from a couple of Morrison’s poems, one being entitled “Abortion Stories”. Guitarist Robby Krieger has told the story of writing (and then recording) the music for “Peace Frog,” and then working with Morrison to look through his notebooks of poetry until the lyrics came to the song.”

But many listeners interpreted the song as a response to the Chicago Convention protests or to Morrison’s arrest in New Haven for lewd behavior onstage. (He does refer to New Haven in the lyrics.)

I’m all in on the Chicago Convention theory because the first and last verse say:

There’s blood in the streets, it’s up to my ankles (She came)
Blood in the streets, it’s up to my knee (She came)
Blood in the streets in the town of Chicago (She came)
Blood on the rise, it’s following me
Think about the break of day
She came and then she drove away
Sunlight in her hair

We could use more of this 50 years later, in 2018!

I don’t really know if The Cult’s “Peace Dog” has anything to do with The Doors recording but the stylistic and title similarities will forever connect these two songs in my mind. So I’ll throw that one in here too, for good measure

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Break on Through, The Doors

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album_large_86_4e3a4db5a58a2Today’s SotW will recognize another important milestone in Rock history – The Doors’ self-titled debut was released 50 years ago this month. Most rock fans agree that it is one of the best and most influential albums ever released.

In the summer of ’66 The Doors were “discovered” by Elektra Records producer Paul Rothchild during the band’s residency at LA’s Whiskey A-Go-Go. He was impressed with the rock and roll stew they concocted – Ray Manzarek’s classically influenced psychedelic keys, Robbie Krieger’s jazzy guitar runs, John Densmore’s Latin influenced drumming and, of course, Jim Morrison’s charismatic baritone vocals and poetic lyrics.

The SotW is the lead track, “Break on Through.”

“Break on Through” was the lead single from the album but flopped as it stalled at #126 on the singles chart. It wasn’t until an edited 3 minute version of “Light My Fire” (shortened from the 7 minute album cut) was released and reached #1 in the Summer of Love that people started to pay attention to The Doors and their album.

It is common knowledge that The Doors took their name is tribute to Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception – an essay documenting his experiences on mescaline. “Break on Through” then is the perfect salute to lead off The Doors’ classic album.

Check out the complete track list:

Break On Through (To The Other Side) 2:25
Soul Kitchen 3:30
The Crystal Ship 2:30
Twentieth Century Fox 2:30
Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) 3:15
Light My Fire 6:50
Back Door Man 3:30
I Looked At You 2:18
End Of The Night 2:49
Take It As It Comes 2:13
The End 11:35

An eclectic mix of styles and not a dud in the bunch.

The Doors was recognized by Rolling Stone as #42 in its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Mojo has included it in their list of the Greatest Albums of All Time as well.

It is hard to disagree.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Waiting for the Sun, The Doors

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I’ve always found it interesting when a band names an album after a song that’s not on that album, but on an earlier or later disc. The most famous example of this is Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. That was the name of their fifth album, but the song by that name was on their next – Physical Graffiti.

The first example of this disconnect that I noticed was with The Bee Gees. Their first album, Bee Gees’ 1st (1967), contained a song called “Cucumber Castle.” They later used that name for their 1970 album.

There are further examples of this throughout rock history.

Artist / Title / Album Song Appears On
Elvis Costello / Almost Blue (1981) / Imperial Bedroom (1982)
Tom Waits / Frank’s Wild Years (1987) / Swordfishtrombones (1983)
Smithereens / Especially For You (1986) / Green Thoughts (1988)

Today’s SotW is The Doors “Waiting for the Sun” from their fifth album, Morrison Hotel (1970).

The name of that song was also used as the title for their 1968 album release. The story goes that the band worked on the song for their third album but didn’t like the way it came out. Funny then that they still wanted to name the album after a song that didn’t make the cut.

Thankfully they continued to work on it and came up with a gem for Morrison Hotel a couple of years later.

Can you come up with any other examples? (Greatest hits compilations and live albums don’t count.)

Enjoy… until next week.