Thursday, October 6, 2016
How is L.A. Woman your favorite Doors album?
While many people hold L.A. Woman as their favorite Doors album, I can’t understand how. I love the doors for many reasons, and much of what I love about them isn’t found on this album. When I look at L.A. Woman by itself, and not as a part of the entire Doors experience, I don’t receive the same intense signals of inspiration that I get from the early material. What draws me to the Doors is found in the first two albums where Morrison is unveiling spiritual meaning, and the power of that experience is blowing his mind. In the early material, there is still something very ordinary about Morrison, and it’s only recognized by the immense credibility he gives to his onsetting experience. This not only makes him relatable to the audience, but it’s exciting to witness.
In L.A. Woman, Morrison’s voice does still carry a feeling of genuine madness, but his attitude toward the feeling seems less astonished and more confirmed. This shift in personality makes his erratic behavior bristle with less friction. Moments such as the random odd calls in “Cars Hiss by my Window”, don’t feel compulsive, instead the space for such vocal decoration seems too readily available.
Then compare Morrison’s vocals In “The Doors” where his voice is so charged he can’t contain the energy, like in the beginning of “Break on Through”. Or take “Strange Days” the song, the same energy persists but Morrison attempts to restrain it, unintentionally letting the tension slip through his hands at that moment where his scream unleashes the bands manic frenzy.
There are a few things I really like about L.A. Woman. One is the style of the production. I am always a fan of sacrificing quality for vulnerability, and this album definitely has a more intimate feeling than other albums because of it. With less of a filter between the band’s music and the delivery, the experience becomes more tangible. There is really something that gets at the heart of the rock with this approach.
Another reason it’s a great album is because of its artistic integrity. There isn’t a single track that feels like it is trying to cater to an audience. The overall texture of the album is stripped of polish and has a simplistic and unrestrained form which makes for a refreshing result.
I can appreciate the swaggering manner The Doors convey in L.A. Woman, which kind of flaunts to the audience their more casual and collected side. Not that this is a terribly new mode for the band, but there is a tendency to fall heavier into it at multiple points in the album. From a storytelling aspect, it illustrates to me that they’ve been through a lot as a band and as individuals. Still, looking at the mood of the album in this way depends on contrasting it to the early material. I know personally, this aspect wouldn’t have drawn me into the band on its own.
Also, sonically speaking, Morrison’s voice sounds technically great on L.A. Woman, but I’m not crazy about the gruff tone he frequently uses. He relies less on the duality of his gentle soft voice/wild screamer and often uses a guttural growl, like on the opening track “Changeling”, where he addresses this to the audience in his lyrics, stating how he can’t be pinned down.
Many people claim this tone was incidental due to his excessive drinking and smoking, but you can hear his soft voice and original strong crooning in songs like “L’America”, where Morrison sings over an intriguing eerie marching vibe. “L’America” presents an exciting moment on the album but fades back into a bluesy rock chorus; one that doesn’t swing with as much personality as their earlier blues rock songs.
I like L.A. Woman, and I don’t think The Doors ever put out a bad album. I really like The Soft Parade, which many people don’t give credit to. I just don’t understand how it is common for people to think L.A. Woman is their best. I can truly respect that this album isn’t an attempt at covering territory they already explored, and I think if they tried to create something along the lines of what they already did, it would have been dishonest and boring. I like L.A. Woman specifically because it has so much integrity, and in its approach it created classic canonical doors songs: “Riders on the Storm” and of course “L.A. Woman”. Neither of those songs could have been made had the band not continued to explore their own possibilities.
L.A. Woman is a great album but it is definitely not the album that defines the band for me, and I guess when I have a favorite album from a band, it is because it is the album that contains the rawest element of what drew me to the band to begin with. For this reason, I’d have to say that my favorite album from The Doors is “The Doors”… or maybe “Strange Days”.