♫ Light My Fire ♫

Last night I played a song by the Animals, thinking that our friend rawgod had asked for an Animals song.  While he appreciated the song, as the Animals are his favourite, he informed me that what he had asked for was a song by The Doors.  🤦  So, let me try this again!  He suggested this one, and it is one of the few songs by The Doors that I like, although my preference is José Feliciano’s version, I am only adding a bit of trivia and otherwise reduxing the song, which I played almost exactly a year ago!


I like Latin music … not all of it, but some.  Tonight’s song was originally released by the American rock band the Doors in 1967, and saw success in both the U.S. and the U.K.  But the following year, it was released by one of my favourite Latin musicians from Puerto Rico, José Feliciano.  Now, I prefer José’s version, but I’m sure many of you remember the one by the Doors best, so I will include both for your listening pleasure.

Most of the song was written by Doors guitarist Robby Krieger, who wanted to write about one of the elements: fire, air, earth, and water …

“I was living with my parents in Pacific Palisades – I had my amp and SG. I asked Jim [Morrison], what should I write about? He said, ‘Something universal, which won’t disappear two years from now. Something that people can interpret themselves.’ I said to myself I’d write about the four elements; earth, air, fire, water, I picked fire, as I loved the Stones song, ‘Play With Fire,’ and that’s how that came about.”

This became The Doors’ signature song. Included on their first album, it was a huge hit and launched them to stardom. Before it was released, The Doors were an underground band popular in the Los Angeles area, but Light My Fire got the attention of a mass audience.

Jim Morrison indicated in his notebooks that he disliked this song and hated performing it. He also seemed to resent that the popularity of the band derived from this song, which he had just a small part in writing.  In 1968, Buick offered The Doors $75,000 to use this song in a commercial as “Come on Buick, light my fire.” With Morrison away, Krieger, Densmore, and Manzarek agreed to allow it. When Morrison found out, he pitched a fit and killed the deal.

This was the last song Jim Morrison performed live. It took place at the Doors concert at The Warehouse in New Orleans on December 12, 1970. Mid-way through the song, Morrison became exasperated and smashed his microphone into the floor, ending the show.  He died in July of the following year.  The Doors’ final performance took place at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on September 10, 1972.

An additional bit of trivia about the song that I learned last time I played it is that this song got the Doors permanently banned from the Ed Sullivan show on 17 September 1967!  According to the official Ed Sullivan Show website, rehearsals for the show went well, and with 15 minutes to air time, Sullivan went to see the band in their dressing room, telling them, “You boys look great, [but] you ought to smile a little more.” Shortly after, a producer from the show came by to inform the band that they needed to change the line “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher” to “Girl, we couldn’t get much better” when performing Light My Fire, ostensibly because the line might be construed as referring to drugs. 

Band members have given varying accounts of whether they ever agreed to change the line or not, but there’s no denying what happened live on the air. After a strong, but unremarkable performance of “People Are Strange,” the band launched into “Light My Fire,” and as the video shows, Jim Morrison sang the original lyric instead of making the suggested change.

After the show, producers said they had hoped to book them six more times, but had decided instead to ban the Doors from the show in the future. Morrison reportedly replied, “Hey, man, we just did the Sullivan show.”

José Feliciano, blind from birth, is a Puerto Rican singer and composer, best known for this song, and his Christmas song, Feliz Navidad.  Robby Krieger said in an interview about the cover: “It’s really a great feeling to have written a classic. I think I owe a big debt to Jose Feliciano because he is actually the one, when he did it, everybody started doing it. He did a whole different arrangement on it.”  I like that, when a musician shares credit when it is deserved.

And so … without further ado … I leave you to choose your version.

Light My Fire
The Doors / José Feliciano

You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn’t get much higher

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
And our love become a funeral pyre

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire, yeah

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
And our love become a funeral pyre

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire, yeah

You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn’t get much higher

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire
Try to set the night on fire
Try to set the night on fire
Try to set the night on fire

Produced by Paul A. Rothchild

25 thoughts on “♫ Light My Fire ♫

  1. Jose’s version is the one I heard first as a kid, and I still like it the best; he’s a great performer. The Doors’ version goes on a little long to suit me, and they’re not one of my favorite acts, anyway.

    Like

  2. Jill, great song regardless of whose version you like best. Per the movie about The Doors, starring Val Kilmer, it is ironic that this big hit was written by the lead guitarist, not the two band leaders. What I later found interesting is the band did not have a bass player, so that lack was made up by playing the lower notes on guitar and keyboard.

    For the record, I like both Feliciano and The Doors versions. They have a different flair not unlike Santana and The Zombies’ versions of “She’s not there.” Keith

    Liked by 1 person

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