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
StudioTTG, 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 number one album (topping the charts for four weeks) and included their second US number one 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 number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also became the band's first hit album in the UK, where it peaked at number 16.

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the album's release in 2018, a 1-LP/2-CD deluxe version of the album was released by Rhino Records. This was overseen by long-time Doors sound engineer Bruce Botnick. The cover of the album was photographed by Paul Ferrara in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles.

Background and recording[edit]

The Doors started recording Waiting for the Sun in February 1968. 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 "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.[1][2]

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.[1] 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.[3]


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, with a similar riff having been 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.[4]

Waiting for the Sun contains two songs with military themes: "Five to One" and "The Unknown Soldier". In No One Here Gets Out Alive, authors Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman speculate 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").[5]

"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. 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. The song was seen as 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.[6]

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."[7] 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.[2] 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.[8] 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 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 abandoned.[9] It was released as the B-side of the single "The Unknown Soldier" which peaked at number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[10] The single version quotes the opening theme from Thelonious Monk's "Straight, No Chaser."[11]

The track "Wintertime Love" and the mournful "Summer's Almost Gone" address seasonal themes, while the gentle "Yes, the River Knows" was written by Krieger.[12] 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."[13] 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.[3] 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").[14]


Waiting for the Sun was released on July 3, 1968,[15] although some sources incorrectly noted on 12 July.[16] The album has sold over 7 million copies.[17] Although "Celebration of the Lizard" was not included on the original release of the album, a recording of the long piece was later included along with two early takes of "Not to Touch the Earth" as bonus tracks on the 40th anniversary expanded edition release of the album (subtitled "An Experiment/Work in Progress").

In 2018, Rhino Records released a 1-LP/2-CD deluxe edition to commemorate the album's 50th anniversary release.[18] 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.[19]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[20]
Classic Rock4/5 stars[21]
MusicHound Rock3.5/5[22]
Rolling Stone(mixed)[23]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[24]
Slant Magazine4/5 stars[9]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[25]

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."[23] The New Musical Express declared "The Unknown Soldier" as the standout of side one, 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."[20] In his review of the 2007 reissue, Sal Cinquemani of Slant praised the album, writing that "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."[9]

Track listing[edit]

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

Side one
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 two
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


40th Anniversary Edition

CD bonus tracks
12."Albinoni's Adagio in G minor" (Remo Giazotto)4:32
13."Not to Touch the Earth" (Dialogue)0:38
14."Not to Touch the Earth" (Take 1)4:05
15."Not to Touch the Earth" (Take 2)4:18
16."Celebration of the Lizard" (An Experiment/Work in Progress)17:09

50th Anniversary Edition second CD bonus tracks

Rough mixes
1."Hello, I Love You"2:23
2."Summer's Almost Gone"3:23
3."Yes, the River Knows"2:38
4."Spanish Caravan"2:57
5."Love Street"3:05
6."Wintertime Love"1:56
7."Not to Touch the Earth"3:57
8."Five to One"4:23
9."My Wild Love"3:00
Live at Falkoner Centeret, Copenhagen 9/17/68
10."Texas Radio & the Big Beat"1:33
11."Hello, I Love You"2:27
12."Back Door Man"2:06
13."Five to One"4:38
14."The Unknown Soldier"4:53


Details are taken from the 2019 Rhino Records reissue liner notes with accompanying essay by Bruce Botnick and may differ from other sources.[26]

The Doors

Additional musicians




Chart (1968) Peak
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[27] 3
UK Albums (OCC)[28] 16
US Billboard 200[29] 1
Chart (2018) Peak
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[30] 20


Year Single
(A-side / B-side)
Chart Peak
1968 "The Unknown Soldier" /
"We Could Be So Good Together"
Hot 100
1968 "Hello, I Love You" /
"Love Street"
Hot 100 1[29]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[31] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[32] 2× Gold 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[33] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[34] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[35] Platinum 1,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b Swanson, Dave (July 11, 2013). "How the Doors Scored Their Only No. 1 LP with Waiting for the Sun". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Weidman 2011, p. 197.
  3. ^ a b Hopkins & Sugerman 1980, p. 179.
  4. ^ Deevoy, Adrian (May 11, 2017). "The Kinks' Ray Davies: Brexit is 'bigger than the Berlin Wall'". The Guardian. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  5. ^ "Now the Day is Over". Encyclopedia-titanica.org. October 12, 2005. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
  6. ^ Whitaker, Sterling. "The Doors, 'Unknown Soldier' – Songs About Soldiers". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  7. ^ Hopkins, Jerry (July 26, 1969). "The Rolling Stone Interview: Jim Morrison". Rolling Stone. New York City: Wenner Media. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  8. ^ Fanelli, Damian. "Watch Robby Krieger Play the Doors' "Spanish Caravan" with a String Quartet". Guitar World. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Cinquemani, Sal (April 18, 2007). "The Doors: Waiting for the Sun | Album Review | Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  10. ^ "The Hot 100 - May 18, 1968". Billboard. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  11. ^ Weidman 2011, p. 159.
  12. ^ Kielty, Martin (September 7, 2018). "Robby Krieger Recalls Doors' Battle with Waiting for the Sun". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  13. ^ The Doors: Box Set (Liner notes). The Doors. Elektra Records. 1997. 62123-2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  14. ^ Hopkins & Sugerman 1980, p. 112.
  15. ^ "The Doors Music". Thedoors.com. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
  16. ^ Weidman 2011, p. 156.
  17. ^ "Waiting for the Sun by the Doors". Classic Rock Review. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
  18. ^ Simpson, Dave (September 24, 2018). "How we made the Doors' Hello, I Love You". The Guardian. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  19. ^ "Waiting for the Sun 50th Anniversary Edition Coming September 14". Thedoors.com. June 26, 2018. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
  20. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie. "The Doors: Waiting for the Sun". AllMusic. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  21. ^ Bell, Max (September 13, 2018). "The Doors - Waiting for the Sun (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) Album Review". Classic Rock. Louder. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  22. ^ 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)
  23. ^ a b Miller, Jim (September 28, 1968). "Waiting for the Sun – Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  24. ^ "The Doors: Album Guide". rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on January 6, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  25. ^ "The Doors Waiting for the Sun". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  26. ^ Waiting for the Sun (liner notes). The Doors. Rhino Records. 2019. R2-537344.CS1 maint: others (link)
  27. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 5809". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  28. ^ "Doors | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  29. ^ a b c "The Doors Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  30. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – The Doors – Waiting for the Sun" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  31. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Doors – Waiting for the Sun". Music Canada.
  32. ^ "French album certifications – Doors – Waiting for the Sun" (in French). InfoDisc. Select DOORS and click OK. 
  33. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Doors; 'Waiting for the Sun')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  34. ^ "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.
  35. ^ "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]