Waiting for the Sun

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Waiting for the Sun
The Doors - Waiting for the Sun.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 3, 1968 (1968-07-03)
RecordedJanuary–May 1968, We Could Be So Good Together recorded May-August 1967
StudioTTG Studios, Hollywood, California
ProducerPaul A. Rothchild
The Doors chronology
Strange Days
Waiting for the Sun
The Soft Parade
Singles from Waiting for the Sun
  1. "The Unknown Soldier"
    Released: March 1968
  2. "Hello, I Love You"
    Released: June 1968

Waiting for the Sun is the third studio album by the American rock band the Doors. Recorded at TTG Studios in Los Angeles, the album's 11 tracks were recorded between February and May 1968 and the album was released by Elektra Records on July 3, 1968. It became the band's only #1 album (topping the charts for four weeks) and included their second US #1 single, "Hello, I Love You" (for two weeks starting August 3, 1968). The first single released off the album was "The Unknown Soldier," which peaked at #39 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also became the band's first hit album in the UK, where it peaked at #16.

Many of the tracks were created in the studio. The production of the album by Paul A. Rothchild led to multiple takes and at one point drummer John Densmore walked out of a session frustrated at Morrison's behavior. Although the Doors had made several attempts at recording their theatrical composition "Celebration of the Lizard" and intended the piece to occupy the second side of the album, this was later shelved. However, a recording of the "Not to Touch the Earth" segment was included and the full lyrics to "Celebration of the Lizard" were printed inside the album's gatefold sleeve. The song "Waiting for the Sun" was also recorded during the sessions for the album but was left off and later appeared on the album Morrison Hotel in 1970. The cover of the album was photographed by Paul Ferrara in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the album's release in 2018, a double CD / single LP version of the album was released by Rhino Records. This was overseen by long-time Doors sound engineer Bruce Botnick.


The recording of Waiting for the Sun was difficult for the band. They had used up most of frontman Jim Morrison's original songbook, a collection of lyrics and ideas, for their first two albums. Consequently, after months of touring, interviews, and television appearances, they had little new material. To compensate, the band attempted to record a longer piece called "The Celebration of the Lizard," a collection of song fragments held together by Morrison's often surreal poetry. When they failed to make progress, the band and producer Paul A. Rothchild abandoned the recording. The group would revisit it later in its full-length form on their 1970 album Absolutely Live. Rothchild's growing perfectionism was also becoming an issue for the band; each song on the album required at least 20 takes with "The Unknown Soldier," recorded in two parts, requiring 130 takes.[1][full citation needed]


Waiting for the Sun includes the band's second chart topper, "Hello, I Love You." One of the last remaining songs from Morrison's 1965 batch of tunes, it had been demoed by the group for Aura Records in 1965 before guitarist Robby Krieger had joined the group, as had "Summer's Almost Gone." In the liner notes to the Doors Box Set, Krieger denied the allegations that the song's musical structure was stolen from Ray Davies, where a riff similar to it is featured in The Kinks' "All Day and All of the Night." Instead, he said the song's vibe was taken from Cream's song "Sunshine of Your Love." According to the 1980 Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, courts in the UK determined in favor of Davies and any royalties for the song are paid to him.[2]

Waiting for the Sun contains two songs with military themes: "Five to One" and "The Unknown Soldier." In No One Here Gets Out Alive, author Jerry Hopkins speculates that the song seems to be a parody of all the naive revolutionary rhetoric heard on the streets, spouted by the "hippie/flower child" hordes Morrison saw in growing numbers, panhandling outside concert halls; an interpretation strongly supported by the final verse's line "Your ballroom days are over, baby." The following lines ("Night is drawing near/Shadows of the evening/crawl across the years") may have been lifted by Morrison from the 19th-century hymnal and bedtime rhyme "Now the Day is Over" ("Now the day is over/Night is drawing nigh/Shadows of the evening/Steal across the sky").[3]

"The Unknown Soldier" exemplified the group's cinematic approach to their music. In the beginning, as well as after the middle of the song, the mysterious sounds of the organ are 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!", followed by the sounds of loading rifles and a long military drum roll, a pause, and then rifle shots. In live performances, 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 drumsticks; keyboardist Ray 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, singing in a sadder tone to "make a grave for the Unknown Soldier," with a mysterious organ being heard. The song ends with Morrison's ecstatic celebration of a war being over, with sounds of crowds cheering and bells tolling. As pointed out in the 2010 film When You're Strange, at the height of Morrison's success, his father, a U.S. Navy admiral, was commanding a division of aircraft carriers off the coast of Vietnam. The song was Morrison's reaction to the Vietnam War and the way that conflict was portrayed in American media at the time, with lines such as "Breakfast where the news is read/Television children fed/Unborn living, living dead/Bullets strike the helmet's head" reflecting how news of the war was being presented in the living rooms of ordinary people. The band also shot a promotional film for the song, which was released as a single and became the group's fourth consecutive Top 40 hit.[citation needed]

The Doors performing for Danish television in 1968

The centerpiece of the album was supposed to be the lengthy theatrical piece "Celebration of the Lizard," but in the end only the "Not to Touch the Earth" section was used. (In a 1969 interview with Jerry Hopkins for Rolling Stone, Morrison said of the epic, "It was pieced together on different occasions out of already existing elements rather than having any generative core from which it grew. I still think there's hope for it.") At the conclusion of "Not to Touch the Earth," Morrison utters his iconic personal maxim, "I am the Lizard King/I can do anything." The opening lines of the song, "Not to touch the earth/not to see the sun" were taken from the table of contents of The Golden Bough. Krieger's skills with the flamenco guitar can be found on "Spanish Caravan", with Granainas intro and a reworking of the melody from the classical piece Asturias (Leyenda) composed by Isaac Albéniz. The optimistic "We Could Be So Good Together" had been recorded during the sessions for Strange Days, even appearing on an early track listing for the album. A review in Slant Magazine[4] described the song as "categorically pre-fame Morrison," pointing out that the line "The time you wait subtracts from joy" is the kind of hippie idealism the singer had long given up on. "Wintertime Love" and the mournful "Summer's Almost Gone" address seasonal themes, while the gentle "Yes, the River Knows" was written by Robby Krieger. In the liner notes to the 1997 Doors retrospective Box Set, Manzarek praises the latter: "The piano and guitar interplay is absolutely beautiful. I don't think Robby and I ever played so sensitively together. It was the closest we ever came to be being Bill Evans and Jim Hall." In the same essay, Manzarek refers to "Summer's Almost Gone" as "a cool Latino-Bolero kind of thing with a Bach-like bridge. It's about the ephemeral nature of life. A season of joy and light and laughter is coming to an end." While recording "My Wild Love," the band eventually gave up on the music and turned it into a work song by getting everyone in the studio to clap their hands, stamp their feet, and chant in unison.[1][full citation needed] Morrison wrote "Love Street" for his girlfriend Pamela Courson, and like all of his other songs about or dedicated to her, there was a hesitancy or biting refusal at the end ("I guess I like it fine, so far").[5][full citation needed] The title track "Waiting for the Sun" was left off this album, but would be included on the 1970 album Morrison Hotel.


Waiting for the Sun was released on July 3, 1968. The album has sold over 9 million copies.[citation needed] The U.S. monophonic pressing, though only a fold down of the stereo mix to mono, is one of the rarest pop/rock LPs.[citation needed]

A studio run-through of "Celebration of the Lizard" (subtitled "An Experiment/Work in Progress") and two early takes of "Not to Touch the Earth" were included as bonus tracks on the 40th anniversary expanded edition release of this album.

In 2018, Rhino Records released a 1-LP/2-CD deluxe edition to commemorate the album's 50th anniversary release.[6] The LP and first CD feature remastered versions of the same 11 tracks from the original 1968 release. The second CD features 14 previously unreleased tracks. The 50th anniversary edition omits the bonus tracks featured on the 40th anniversary edition.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[7]
Rolling Stone(mixed)[9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[10]
Slant Magazine4/5 stars[11]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[12]

Waiting for the Sun has been generally well received by critics, though most cited it as a step down in quality from the band's earlier albums. Jim Miller of Rolling Stone wrote, "After a year and a half of Jim Morrison's posturing, one might logically hope for some sort of musical growth, and if the new record isn't really terrible, it isn't particularly exciting either."[9] The New Musical Express declared the standout of side one to be The Unknown Soldier, and “all on side two are gems, notably My Wild Love and the long finale Five to One” [1]. In his retrospective review, Richie Unterberger of AllMusic wrote, "The Doors' 1967 albums had raised expectations so high that their third effort was greeted as a major disappointment. With a few exceptions, the material was much mellower, and while this yielded some fine melodic ballad rock [...] there was no denying that the songwriting was not as impressive as it had been on the first two records."[7] In his review of the 2007 reissue, Sal Cinquemani of Slant wrote "Despite the fact that Morrison was becoming a self-destructing mess, Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore were never more lucid – perhaps to compensate. This was a band at its most dexterous, creative, and musically diverse ..."[11]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by The Doors (Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore), except as stated.

Side A
1."Hello, I Love You"2:14
2."Love Street"2:53
3."Not to Touch the Earth"3:56
4."Summer's Almost Gone"3:22
5."Wintertime Love"1:54
6."The Unknown Soldier"3:22
Side B
1."Spanish Caravan"3:03
2."My Wild Love"3:01
3."We Could Be So Good Together"2:26
4."Yes, the River Knows"2:36
5."Five to One"4:26


Track numbering refers to CD and digital releases of the album.

The Doors
Additional musicians




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[17] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[18] 2× Gold 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[19] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[20] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[21] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b Hopkins 1980, p. 179.
  2. ^ Adrian Deevoy (11 May 2017). "The Kinks' Ray Davies: Brexit is 'bigger than the Berlin Wall'". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Now the Day is Over". Encyclopedia-titanica.org. 2005-10-12. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
  4. ^ Slant Magazine – Music Review: The Doors: Waiting For The Sun Archived 2008-10-18 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Hopkins 1980, p. 112.
  6. ^ Simpson, Dave (24 September 2018). "How we made the Doors' Hello, I Love You". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  7. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie. "Waiting for the Sun – The Doors | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  8. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 358. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ a b Miller, Jim (September 28, 1968). "[Waiting for the Sun review]". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  10. ^ "The Doors: Album Guide". rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on January 6, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Cinquemani, Sal (April 18, 2007). "The Doors: Waiting for the Sun | Album Review | Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  12. ^ "The Doors Waiting for the Sun". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  13. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 5809". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  14. ^ "Officialcharts.de – Top 100 Longplay". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Doors | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  16. ^ a b c "The Doors Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  17. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Doors – Waiting for the Sun". Music Canada.
  18. ^ "French album certifications – Doors – Waiting for the Sun" (in French). InfoDisc. Select DOORS and click OK. 
  19. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Doors; 'Waiting for the Sun')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  20. ^ "British album certifications – Doors – Waiting for the Sun". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Waiting for the Sun in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  21. ^ "American album certifications – The Doors – Waiting for the Sun". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]