Song of the Week 44: Riders on the Storm / Hyacinth House – The Doors

the-doors

I was halfway through writing a different song of the week post when I got the news that Ray Manzarek had died.  Hyacinth House has always been one of my favourite lesser known Doors songs, and it came to mind as a tribute to the man, but I started thinking that the keyboard doesn’t really stand out as much as it does on other tracks.

As soon as I looked up the background to the song, I realised that the music was written by Ray himself, and the lyric penned by Jim. That Manzarek had written the music was a surprise to me, so it´s interesting that it should have come to my mind. I´d always had a soft spot for that song. It´s so different to anything else they wrote. As you´ve probably realised from previous SOTWs I love songs that paint pictures; songs that combine images.

There´s been a lot written about Ray´s life story recently, and I don´t have anything new to add on that front (it´s readily available online anyway), but you can watch a nice video interview with the man himself, talking about how Riders on the Storm came together. The original inspiration was (Ghost) Riders in the Sky, which Krieger was playing around with in the studio. They both use the E-Dorian mode.

… along with this tribute on BBC from his friend and ex Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong- Torres.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-22609385

The Doors were a great band, led by the charismatic Jim Morrison, but they could rock just as hard as The Stones, with arguably more soul. And that´s down to the guitar playing of Robby Krieger, who mostly kept it simple, but evolved considerably as a musician over the years they were together, along with the haunting, seemingly effortless, playing of Manzarek who from the beginning was a virtuoso. Not to mention that he and John Densmore made up the rhythm section, as Ray played a separate keyboard bass with his left hand.

Being able to play complicated keyboard lines is not so rare, but the originality he brought to his craft was second to none among the keyboard players of his era. I couldn´t imagine a more perfect accompaniment to Riders on the Storm, Light My Fire, Love Street or People Are Strange.

After watching the video of Riders on the Storm, I´ve decided to make this a double Song of the Week. You have to be able to bend the rules once in a while…

Riders on the Storm is another one of those songs that is it´s own little world, with its own weather system. It´s one of my favourite Doors songs. Being a piano player, the keyboard part has always been a big inspiration.

It was the last song recorded by the members of The Doors (in December 1970), as well as being Morrison´s last recorded song to be released. It was released in 1971 shortly before Morrison´s death. It was performed live only once, on the second and final date of the L.A. Woman tour at the Warehouse in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 12, 1970, which was also the last public performance with Morrison.

So first, check out the video of Riders on the Storm with Jim driving in the desert. I´d always pictured a night time scene, but anyway…

Now here’s a demo version of Hyancinth House, from the recording sessions at Robby´s home studio.

This song,  was released in April 1971 on the final album, and possibly my favourite, recorded with Jim, L.A. Woman. Manzarek wrote the music, while Morrison wrote the lyrics at Krieger´s beach house. The song includes writing credits for Krieger and Densmore too, but they had little to do with the writing, although Krieger´s guitar work is wonderful as is Densmore´s performance.

The_Doors-L_A_Woman-Front

The vocals were recorded in the bathroom to get some natural echo, hence the “I see the bathroom is clear, I think that somebody´s near” line.

hyacinth_purple

The use of the term Hyancinth is supposedly a reference for Morrison´s unhappiness, but could possibly be read as an elegy to premature death. The song Hyancinth House references The End “I need a brand new friend, The End”. The self destructive Morrison was reportedly having suicidal thoughts during this time.

Hyacinthus & Zephyros

Hyacinthus was the beautiful young love of the Greek God Apollo. The jealous wind God Zephyr killed him by blowing his discus back to him and Apollo refused to allow Hades claim the boy. Instead he created the hyacinth flower from his blood. According to Ovid, the tears of Apollo stained the newly formed flower’s petals as a sign of his grief.

The reference “to please the lions” could refer to the early Christian martyrs also named Hyacinth, who Morrison may have identified with.

Morrison moved to Paris three months after the recording never to play with The Doors again. He was unhappy with the pressure he was under and felt he couldn´t be himself with those around him. It´s thought he  left for Paris to  pursue his poetry and make a new start.

The inspiration for the music was Fryderyk Chopin´s Polonaise in A-Flat Major, Op. 53, which can be heard during the organ solo.

Well, this is the end, but it´s what we do in the middle that counts. Thanks for that, Ray.

Riders on the Storm

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm

There’s a killer on the road
His brain is squirmin’ like a toad
Take a long holiday
Let your children play
If ya give this man a ride
Sweet memory will die
Killer on the road, yeah

Girl ya gotta love your man
Girl ya gotta love your man
Take him by the hand
Make him understand
The world on you depends
Our life will never end
Gotta love your man, yeah

Yeah!

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm

Hyacinth House

What are they doing in the Hyacinth House?
What are they doing in the Hyacinth House?
To please the lions yeah this day

I need a brand new friend who doesn’t bother me
I need a brand new friend who doesn’t trouble me
I need someone yeah who doesn’t need me

I see the bathroom is clear
I think that somebody’s here
I’m sure that someone is following me, oh yeah

Why did you throw the Jack of Hearts away?
Why did you throw the Jack of Hearts away?
It was the only card in the deck that I had left to play

And I’ll say it again, I need a brand new friend
And I’ll say it again, I need a brand new friend
And I’ll say it again, I need a brand new friend the end

What are they doing in the Hyacinth House?
To please the lions yeah this day.

But I’ll say it again, I need a brand new friend
But I’ll say it again, I need a brand new friend
And I’ll say it again, I need a brand new friend, the end

ray-manzarek

R.I.P.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Song of the Week 44: Riders on the Storm / Hyacinth House – The Doors

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s