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The song The Soft Parade is a mini epic. How was it written?
“In sections. Long, epic things like The End and When The Music’s Over, they evolve over time. Jim always had these lyrics, and we would spring off that.”
When Paul Rothchild [producer of all The Doors' albums with the exception of LA Woman] criticized Riders On The Storm and called it “cocktail lounge music,” did those words sting? Or did you just think, “Well, he’s wrong”?
“No, it kind of hurt, because he had taught us how to make records. He was brilliant. But he got dictatorial and made us do too many takes in the middle there. Unknown Soldier, Waiting For The Sun – it was ridiculous. Ridiculous. And I really felt that there were a few takes in the can other than the master they he chose that were better because we weren’t so tired. We were just playing it over and over and wringing out the vitality.
“Still, he was a teacher and a mentor, so it hurt. But later, what happened was, we were freed and we were thrilled to take the reins – it was time to do it. And Paul was fed up with Jim’s alcoholism. It was pretty hard during Soft Parade. They had to do a lot of takes on the vocals and patch them together. But producing [LA Woman] with Bruce Botnick empowered us, and Jim kind of shored up and wasn’t that loaded.”
Live, the band performed without a bass player. Now, drummers usually like to lock in with the bassist. What did you do live? Who would you look at?
“I was watching Jim all the time. But I was the pulse without a bass player. Yeah, usually, bass players and drummers are together. I had a double job: I had to hold the tempo down ‘cause it was just me and Ray’s left hand. But he would get excited when he played an organ solo, and then he’d speed up. So I had to really hold back.
“Without the bass, there was more air, and that let me play around with Jim more – spur him on, have conversations. You know, like in When The Music’s Over – ‘What have they done to the earth?’ ‘Brrrrrrr!’ That kind of stuff.”