The Unknown Soldier (song)
|"The Unknown Soldier"|
|Single by The Doors|
|from the album Waiting for the Sun|
|B-side||"We Could Be So Good Together"|
|Recorded||January 1968 at Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, CA|
|Producer(s)||Paul A. Rothchild|
|The Doors singles chronology|
The song was Jim Morrison's reaction to the Vietnam War and the way that conflict was portrayed in American media at the time. While it was never publicized at the time or in years since, Morrison's father, George Stephen Morrison was the Rear Admiral in charge of the United States fleet involved in the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which resulted in the rapid escalation of the Vietnam War. Lines such as "Breakfast where the news is read/ Television children fed/ Unborn living, living dead/ Bullets strike the helmet's head" concern the way news of the war was being presented in the living rooms of ordinary people.
In the beginning, as well as after the middle of the song, the mysterious sounds of the organ is heard, depicting the mystery of the "Unknown Soldier". In the middle of the song, the Doors produce the sounds of what appears to be a marching cadence. It begins with military drums, plus the sound of the Sergeant counting off in 4s, (HUP, HUP, HUP 2 3 4), until he says "COMPANY! HALT! PRESENT! ARMS!" being followed by the sounds of loading rifles, and a long military drum roll, a pause, and then the rifleshots; in live performances Robby Krieger would point his guitar towards Morrison like a rifle, drummer John Densmore would emulate a gunshot by producing a loud rimshot, by hitting the edge of the snare drum, and breaking the drum sticks, Manzarek would raise his hand and drop it as if to release the signal, and Morrison would fall screaming to the ground. After this middle section, the verses return, with Morrison, first singing in a sadder tone, to "Make a grave for the Unknown Soldier", with the mysterious organ being heard. Then the lyrics about the "Breakfast", is heard with Morrison screaming three of the four lines, minus the line "Unborn Living, Living Dead", and the song ends with Morrison's ecstatic celebration of a war being over. In the studio version of the song, the sounds of crowds cheering and bells tolling can be heard.
Release and reception
The single release was edited in which a different gunshot sound was used and does not include the cheering crowds and tolling bells at the end. It became the band's fourth Top 40 hit in the US, peaking at number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100. "We Could Be So Good Together" served as the B-side.
|US Billboard Hot 100||39|