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The Doors 9: LA Woman

Who is Mr. Mojo Risin?

Is it truth that Jim Morrison left the States with a fake passport, under this imaginary name, in reality an anagrammatism of his real one? And that he is still alive?

Of course not.

But all the legends, such as Morrison, are accompanied with myths about their life and death. And the Doors’ millions of fans couldn’t ever accept that Morrison died so young, so beautiful. And they always want to believe that “Mr Mojo Risin” is not dead but alive, maybe on a remote sunny tropical island along with his beloved Pamela, drinking whiskey and smoking weed, as he used to do.

It sounds peculiar but the other Doors’ members found out what “Mr Mojo Risin” means after the recordings of LA Woman album, when Morrison was already dead.

LA Woman was recorded in the city of angels during the first months of 1971 and was released on April 19 of the same year. It had reached number 9 on Billboard chart, while both singles of the album, Love her madly and Riders on the storm, reached top 20. A few months later, Jim was found dead in Paris, where he was with Pamela. He was only 27 years old.

Many Doors’ fans consider LA Woman the band’s best album. LA Woman is, indeed, a great album, maybe an all time TOP-100. But, in my opinion, the first, raw, ripe and very personal homonymous band’s album is better than LA Woman. In fact, it is a unique diamond, only comparable with Pink Floyd’s The dark side of the moon and the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s lonely heart’s club band.

Let’s see the most important songs of the album:

“I had money, and I had none” Jim Morrison sang at the first track of the album, the funky “Changeling”, a song referring to the homonymous and legendary human-like creature.

Ray Manzarek wrote about it, trying to explain Morrison’s words: “The lyrics are prophetic – I’ve lived uptown. I’ve lived downtown, but I’ve never been so broke that I couldn’t leave town.- He’d lived on the beach and in the hills. He’d had money and been broke. He’d had his L.A. adventure, and he was out”

Rolling Stone critic Narendra Kusnur considered The changelling one of Morrison’s 10 most underrated songs, while Elektra Records president called it “a tribute to James Brown”

Love her Madly” was released in March 1971, as the first single of the forthcoming album. It reached no 11 on Billboard Hot 100 and it also had a similar success overseas.

It is composed by Robbie Krieger, who also wrote the lyrics inspired by his troubles and fights with his later wife Lynn.

Doors’ producer Paul Rothchild didn’t like at all “Love Her Madly”, dismissing the song as “cocktail music”, something that provoked his departure from the original sessions. Following Rothchild’s departure from the project, the Doors opted to self-produce the album, in association with longtime engineer Bruce Botnick.

In 2000 the 3 alive Doors’ members recorded a new version of “Love Her Madly” with Bo Diddley for the tribute album Stoned Immaculate.

How many notorious songs are written about Los Angeles? I don’t know, they must be hundreds, I can now remember RHCP’s Under the bridge and Californication, California Dreaming by the Mamas and the Papas, Welcome to the Jungle by Guns and Roses and many more, but Doors’ LA Woman is the absolute anthem about California’s largest and most famous city.

“L.A. Woman” has been viewed as Morrison’s “final goodbye” to Los Angeles, before his moving to Paris.

“Well, I just got into town about an hour ago
Took a look around, see which way the wind blow
Where the little girls in their Hollywood bungalows
Are you a lucky little lady in the city of light”

Densmore wrote about the song: “He moves the letters around and it was an anagram for his name. I knew that mojo was a sexual term from the blues, and that gave me the idea to go slow and dark with the tempo.”

“Riders on the storm” is one of best songs ever written and, of course, one of Doors’ best 5 ones.  It was released in June 1971, as the second single from LA Woman album. The song reached number 14 on the Billboard 100 and number 22 on the UK Singles Chart.

According to Robby Krieger the song was inspired by the country song “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend”

“Riders on the Storm” was recorded at the Doors Workshop in December 1970 with the assistance of Botnick. Later in January 1971, after Morrison had recorded his main vocals, the group gathered at studios to complete the mixing of the album, at which Morrison then whispered the lyrics over them to create an echo effect. 

It was the last song recorded by all four members of the Doors, as well as the last song recorded by Morrison to be released in his lifetime. The single was out in June 1971, entering the Billboard the week ending July 3, 1971, the same week Morrison died.

Doors’ drummer, John Densmore released a book in 1990 entitled Riders on the Storm detailing the story of his life and his time with the group. In 2010, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as a recording “of lasting qualitative or historical significance”

(to be continued)


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