Waiting for the Sun

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 January 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.

Waiting for the Sun
The Doors - Waiting for the Sun.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 3, 1968 (1968-07-03)
RecordedJanuary–May 1968
StudioSunset Sound & TTG Studios, 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

Having released two records which drew from a large pool of previously composed songs, the Doors started to improvise for this third LP in late 1967. Due to the shortage of original material, the group suffered what drummer John Densmore described as the "third album syndrome", meaning the difficulty of a band to have a stock of good compositions, capable of filling a third disc in a row.[2] The recording sessions also proved difficult for the group due to lead singer Jim Morrison's worsening alcoholism.

The album provoked mixed reactions upon release and in subsequent decades, with critics commenting on the widely varying musical styles and songwriting quality as detriments and inconsistent. However, it has also attracted some more sympathetic appraisal for its mellower sound and experimentation with other genres.[3][4][5] 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.

Background and recordingEdit

The Doors started recording Waiting for the Sun in January 1968 at Sunset Sound Studios,[6] with early versions of "The Unknown Soldier" and "Spanish Caravan". The group soon moved at TTG Studios (Two Terrible Guys) in Hollywood, California, where the majority of the album's recording took place; the same time Frank Zappa was recording.[7] Having little material however, the band had previously used up most of frontman Jim Morrison's original songbook, a collection of lyrics and ideas, for their first two records. Consequently, following months of touring, interviews and television appearances, they had little new material. With almost all of Morrison's batch of tunes being picked out, 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.[8][9]

Many of the album tracks were created in the studio.[10] The production by Paul A. Rothchild led to multiple takes as a result of his growing perfectionism, which was becoming an issue for the group. Morrison's increasing alcohol consumption also caused tension and difficulties in the studio,[11] and at one point drummer John Densmore walked out of a session frustrated at his behavior.[9] Alice Cooper was around during the recording sessions and he was reportedly worried about Morrison's health.[7] During the recording of "Five to One", Morrison was in intense state of intoxication, to a degree that the studio's assistants needed to support him to complete his interpretation.[12] Each song on the album required overall at least 20 takes with "The Unknown Soldier", recorded in two parts, consisting 130.[13]


Waiting for the Sun includes the band's second chart topper, "Hello, I Love You."[14] 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."[15] It has been suggested the courts in the UK determined in favor of Davies and any royalties for the song were paid to him.[16]

Waiting for the Sun contains two songs with military themes: "Five to One" and "The Unknown Soldier". Journalists Nathan Brackett and Christian Hoard speculate that "Five to One" seems to be revolutionary propulsive,[17] spouted by the "hippie/ flower child" hordes Morrison saw in growing numbers. Regardless of this interpretation, Morrison confirmed that the lyrics were not political.[18] The 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").[19]

"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."[20] In the middle of the song, the Doors produced with the assisting of Crawdaddy! magazine critic Paul Williams, the sounds of a marching cadence.[8] 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.[20][21] The lyrics are viewed 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.[22]

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."[23] 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.[8] 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.[24] The optimistic "We Could Be So Good Together" had been recorded during the sessions for Strange Days, even appearing on an early track listing.[25][26][27] 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.[5] It was released as the B-side of the single "The Unknown Soldier" which peaked at number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[28] The single version quotes the opening theme from Thelonious Monk's "Straight, No Chaser."[29][30]

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.[10] 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."[15] 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.[13] 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").[31] Speaking of "My Wild Love", Robby Krieger has cited it as his least favorite Doors song, recalling that when a bodyguard said to him that his most-liked tune of the band is "My Wild Love", Krieger responded: "Oh shit, man, I hate that song".[32]


Waiting for the Sun was released on July 3, 1968,[33] although some sources incorrectly noted on 12 July.[34] The album has sold over 7 million copies since its 1968 original release (as dated in 2015).[35] 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 1988, the album was digitally remastered by Bruce Botnick and Paul A. Rothchild at Digital Magnetics using the original master tapes.[36] DCC Compact Classics reissued the album on 24kt gold CD in 1993 and on 180g vinyl in 1998, both versions were mastered by Steve Hoffman.[37][38] It was remastered again in 1999 for The Complete Studio Recordings box set, this edition was remastered by Bernie Grundman and Bruce Botnick at Bernie Grundman Mastering using 96khz/24bit technology; it was also released as a standalone CD release.[39] In 2006 the album was reissued on a CD/DVD set featuring the 2006 stereo and 5.1 remixes created by Bruce Botnick for the Perception box set.[40] The 2006 stereo remix was also released on a standalone CD release in 2007 including five bonus tracks, this edition was mastered by Bruce Botnick at Uniteye.[41] In 2009, it was reissued on 180g vinyl featuring the original mix, this edition was cut by Bernie Grundman.[42] Analogue Productions also reissued the album on SACD and double 45 RPM vinyl, both editions were mastered by Doug Sax and Sangwook Nam at the Mastering Lab; the CD layer of the Super Audio CD contains the original stereo mix while the SACD layer contains Bruce Botnick's 2006 5.1 surround mix.[43][44]

In 2018, Rhino Records released a 1-LP/2-CD deluxe edition to commemorate the album's 50th anniversary release, this edition was remastered by Bruce Botnick utilizing the Plangent Process.[45] The CDs are encoded with MQA technology.[46] 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.[47] The 50th anniversary edition omits the bonus tracks featured on the 40th anniversary edition and also features rough mixes of all the album's tracks. Doors' engineer Bruce Botnick recommended some of the versions to the audience, saying, "I prefer some of these mixes as they represent all of the elements and additional background vocals and some intangible roughness, all quite attractive and refreshing."[48]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [4]
Classic Rock     [48]
MusicHound Rock3.5/5[49]
Rolling Stone(mixed)[50]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [51]
Slant Magazine     [5]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [52]

Despite its commercial success, Waiting for the Sun polarised critics and many derided it as pretentious and over-arranged.[53] Journalist Mikal Gilmore noted that among the criticisms were centered to the "transparent commercial appeal" of the album's opener "Hello, I Love You",[54] with The Rolling Stone Album Guide dismissing it as an "jagged Kinks ripoff on which Morrison comes out like a rapist ..."[17] 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."[50] Pete Johnson reviewing the record for The Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote a positive review, remarking that Waiting for the Sun contains "the smallest amount self-indulgent" songs compared to the Doors previous albums.[3] 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'."[55]

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."[4] 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," Robby 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."[5] Classic Rock critic Max Bell, overviewing the 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, gave Waiting for the Sun a rating of four out of five stars.[48]

Track listingEdit

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.[56]

The Doors

Additional musicians




Chart (1968) Peak
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[57] 3
UK Albums (OCC)[58] 16
US Billboard 200[59] 1
Chart (2018) Peak
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[60] 20


Year Single
(A-side / B-side)
Chart Peak
1968 "The Unknown Soldier" / "We Could Be So Good Together" Billboard Hot 100 39[59]
1968 "Hello, I Love You" / "Love Street" Hot 100 1[59]


Certifications for Waiting for the Sun
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[61] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[62] 2× Gold 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[63] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[64] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[65] Platinum 1,000,000^

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


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External linksEdit