Like millions of smoke-addled teenagers before me I came to love passionately the music of the Doors, as a soundtrack to my disenfranchisement, in the adolescent years where you’re still guided by your parent’s record collection but striking out to stuff the olds regarded as, in my case, depressing shit.
The Doors – despite Jim Morrison’s Parisian demise, or, more likely, because of it – will remain one of the pioneers of their era; one of the great bands in history. Their bass-less lineup and engagement of pianist Ray Manzarek saw a sound develop that is instantly recognisable today and was groundbreaking at the time.
However, with the release of the first “new Doors song” in forty years – a track apparently unearthed by producer Bruce Botnick during a treasure hunt for the 40th anniversary edition of 1971’s seminal LA Woman – I am dragged even further away from the genius of Morrison’s American Poet and slapped in the face with the relentless drive of Manzarek who, forty years after the death of his friend, is still flogging the proverbial. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ray, transcendental crusader that he is, still speaks to Jim on a regular basis. Guitarist Robbie Krieger is just as guilty of INXS-ing The Doors.
And so the song. The idea that Jim Morrison would have allowed this scummy demo “She Smells So Nice” to make it onto an album in its current form is terrifying. It saddens me that the others would let it through to the catcher as well – musicians that they are. (No wonder drummer John Densmore has washed his hands of the whole affair).
Moving away from the deplorable lyric “she smells so good I gotta sniff her once or twice” and the suggestion from Ray that “we know which [lady] part that is” the song is a slapdash soul/blues jaunt, recorded fast and mixed badly. Its redeeming feature is that it got me excited about The Doors for the first time in ages and cast an image in my mind of a young, exciting band at the top of their game, smashing out songs in a studio, and poised to make history again.
Because I am a Doors tragic I will buy this new LA Woman re-issue just to hear the “alternate” versions that Botnick has dusted off. But first I will be listening to my vinyl copies of LA Woman and Morrison Hotel, in headphones, and pretending “She Smells So Nice” never happened.
– Melanie Lewis