An American Prayer

An American Prayer is the ninth and final studio album by the American rock band the Doors. Following the death of Jim Morrison and the band's break-up, the surviving members of the Doors reconvened to set several of Morrison's spoken word recordings to music. The album features Morrison posthumously, who employs spoken-word poetry.[3]

An American Prayer
An American Prayer.jpeg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 17, 1978 (1978-11-17)
Recorded
  • March 1969 & December 1970 (spoken word)
  • 1978 (music)
Genre
Length38:28
Label
Producer
Jim Morrison & the Doors chronology
Full Circle
(1972)
An American Prayer
(1978)
Greatest Hits
(1980)

BackgroundEdit

In 1978, seven years after lead singer Jim Morrison died and five years after the remaining members of the band broke up, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore reunited and recorded backing tracks over Morrison's poetry (originally recorded in 1969 and 1970).[4] Other pieces of music and spoken word recorded by the Doors and Morrison were also used in the audio collage, such as dialogue from Morrison's film HWY: An American Pastoral and snippets from jam sessions.

Prior to leaving for Paris, Morrison had approached composer Lalo Schifrin as a possible contributor for the music tracks meant to accompany the poetry, with no participation from any of the other Doors members. Additionally, he had developed some conception of the album cover art work by January 1971, and was in correspondence with artist T. E. Breitenbach to design this cover in the form of a triptych.[5]

Release and receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [6]
Christgau's Record GuideC[7]
MusicHound Rock2/5[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [9]

The album includes a composite live version of "Roadhouse Blues", splicing together performances at New York City's Felt Forum and Detroit's Cobo Hall, both captured during the Doors' 1970 Roadhouse Blues Tour. This version of the song later appeared on the In Concert compilation.

Despite managing a RIAA platinum certification in the US, the album received mixed reviews and still divides critics. When the album was originally released, longtime Doors' producer Paul A. Rothchild labeled the album a "rape of Jim Morrison." Rothchild claimed that he had heard all of the reels of master tapes from both the 1969 and the 1970 poetry sessions, insisting that the three remaining Doors failed to realize Morrison's original intent for an audio presentation of the poetry.[10]

John Haeny (who recorded the original session tapes with Morrison in 1970 and safeguarded them before the project was resurrected as An American Prayer) insisted that the album "was made by those people who were closest to Jim, both personally and artistically" and "everyone had the best intentions," stating: "Jim would be pleased. Jim would have understood our motivation and appreciated our dedication and heartfelt handling of his work."[5]

Track listingEdit

Poetry, lyrics and stories by Jim Morrison; music by Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore.

Original releaseEdit

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Awake
  1. Ghost Song
  2. Dawn's Highway
  3. Newborn Awakening"
7:10
2."To Come of Age
  • Black Polished Chrome
  • Latino Chrome
  • Angels and Sailors
  • Stoned Immaculate"
  • 8:41
    3."The Poets Dreams
  • The Movie
  • Curses, Invocations"
  • 3:28
    Side two
    No.TitleLength
    4."The World On Fire
    1. American Night
    2. Roadhouse Blues
    3. Lament
    4. The Hitchhiker"
    11:59
    5."An American Prayer"6:52

    DJ Promotional release (edited for broadcast)Edit

    Side one
    No.TitleLength
    1."Awake"0:35
    2."Ghost Song"2:48
    3."Dawn's Highway"1:25
    4."Newborn Awakening"2:20
    5."Black Polished Chrome / Latino Chrome"2:47
    6."Stoned Immaculate"1:34
    Side two
    No.TitleLength
    7."American Night"0:40
    8."Roadhouse Blues" (Live)4:55
    9."Astrology Rap"0:44
    10."The World on Fire"1:10
    11."The Hitchhiker"2:10
    12."An American Prayer (Ghost Song II)
    1. The End – 1:38
    2. Albinoni: Adagio – 2:10"
    3:00

    1995 remastered editionEdit

    Awake
    No.TitleLength
    1."Awake"0:36
    2."Ghost Song"2:50
    3."Dawn's Highway"1:21
    4."Newborn Awakening"2:26
    To Come of Age
    No.TitleLength
    5."To Come of Age"1:01
    6."Black Polished Chrome"1:07
    7."Latino Chrome"2:14
    8."Angels and Sailors"2:46
    9."Stoned Immaculate"1:33
    The Poet's Dream
    No.TitleLength
    10."The Movie"1:35
    11."Curses, Invocations"1:57
    World on Fire
    No.TitleLength
    12."American Night"0:28
    13."Roadhouse Blues"5:53
    14."The World on Fire"1:06
    15."Lament"2:18
    16."The Hitchhiker"2:15
    An American Prayer
    No.TitleLength
    17."An American Prayer"3:04
    18."Hour for Magic"1:17
    19."Freedom Exists"0:20
    20."A Feast of Friends" (also known as "The Severed Garden")2:10
    Bonus tracks
    No.TitleLength
    21."Babylon Fading"1:40
    22."Bird of Prey"1:03
    23."The Ghost Song (Extended Version)" (includes a hidden spoken poetry section at the very end of the track.)5:16

    Notes

    • Morrison's vocals in "Bird of Prey" were later sampled for the 2000 Fatboy Slim song "Sunset (Bird of Prey)."
    • Morrison's shout, "Wake up!" in "Awake" was sampled in the 1991 Orbital song "Choice."
    • Morrison's vocals from "Angels and Sailors" appeared on Bad Company's track "Ladies of Spain".

    PersonnelEdit

    The Doors[11]

    Additional personnel

    Production

    Charts and certificationsEdit

    Chart (1979) Peak
    position
    Australia (Kent Music Report)[13] 80

    Certifications

    Region Certification Certified units/sales
    United States (RIAA)[14] Platinum 1,000,000^

    ^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

    ReferencesEdit

    1. ^ Wall, Mick (October 30, 2014). Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre. UK: Hachette. p. 352. ISBN 978-1409151258.
    2. ^ "L.A. Woman (40th Anniversary Editions)". Thedoors.com. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
    3. ^ Ruhlmann, William; Unterberger, Richie. "The Doors – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved March 27, 2021.
    4. ^ "The Doors: An American Prayer". rhino.com. November 27, 2018. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
    5. ^ a b Haeny, John (July 23, 2013). "The Making of Jim Morrision's An American Prayer". Johnhaeny.com.
    6. ^ Iyengar, Vik. "An American Prayer – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
    7. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: M". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 8, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
    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. ^ "The Doors: Album Guide". rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on January 6, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
    10. ^ "Bam Interview - Paul Rothchild". archives.waiting-forthe-sun.net.
    11. ^ An American Prayer (Liner notes). Elektra. Back cover. 5E-502.
    12. ^ The Doors Robby Krieger Explains Jim Morrison's Alter Ego (video). Retrieved March 27, 2021 – via YouTube.
    13. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 208. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
    14. ^ "American album certifications – The Doors – An American Prayer". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.