Although thought of as The Doors “problem” album, The Soft Parade is perhaps my favourite album by the band. The Soft Parade was their fourth album, released in 1969 and reached #6 in in the US album charts. Critics and fans denounced the album as too “pop”, due to the inclusion of horns and strings as opposed to the more pared back blues-influenced songs of The Doors’ earlier albums.
It makes sense that the album would have a new sound though, as the album was made during a transitional period for the band. Morrison’s alcoholism got worse during this period, and due to his increasing disinterest in music, Robby Krieger supplied more of the lyrics. The Doors had always pursued a unanimous approach in their public persona-all albums previously had simply been credited to “The Doors”-but on The Soft Parade due to disagreements over some of the lyrics, Krieger and Morrison were both credited separately for their individual songs.
As Morrison deteriorated into alcoholism, the quality of his voice on the album appeared to be suffering as much as his lyrical input. He continuously showed up drunk to rehearsals, which he had somehow avoided for the most part up until this album. From once being able to complete an album in just two takes, it now took several for each song.
I am not personally a huge fan of Krieger’s writing style. Despite staying true to The Doors overall musical style, it is Morrison’s extravagant, eccentric lyrics that truly make The Doors for me, and so therefore even such hits as “Light My Fire” and “Touch Me” are not, in my humble opinion, their best works. Perhaps this is why I find The Soft Parade appears as equally captivating as the other albums by The Doors, in it’s own unique way-as the songs became differentiated, the Morrison work truly continued to shine on in perhaps an even darker more morbid way than his previous youthful work.
By the time The Soft Parade was being written, Morrison had hit the zenith of his fame and was becoming increasingly disillusioned with it. Prior to the recording of the album he had retreated from the public eye, and emerged having gained weight and grown a large beard. The Jim Morrison who sings Shaman’s Blues appears a more tired, world weary one than the leather clad “Lizard King” who roared his way through Break On Through. Morrison had swapped rebellion, fame and psychedelics, for poetry, philosophy and above all, alcohol.
Track Listing for The Soft Parade
- “Tell All the People” (Robby Krieger) – 3:21
- “Touch Me” (Krieger) – 3:12
- “Shaman’s Blues” (Jim Morrison) – 4:49
- “Do It” (Morrison, Krieger) – 3:08
- “Easy Ride” (Morrison) – 2:43