#6 The Doors Touch Me
The Doors were at the peak of their popularity when Robby Krieger‘s composition, “Touch Me” was released as a single in December of 1968. Signs of lead singer Jim Morrison’s downward spiral would soon become evident.
The Dinner Key incident in Miami happened three months after the record’s release and Morrison’s drinking began to impact his ability to show up for recording dates and rehearsals. You get a sense for his challenges when he misses the pick-up lyrics at the start of the second verse of “Touch Me” during the band’s semi-live performance on the Smothers Brothers Show in 1969. Record companies often provided the backing tracks without vocals for television, an idea which worked best with a tune like “Touch Me” where the cold ending didn’t alert the audience. The performance is otherwise quite good, with members of the Nelson Riddle Orchestra miming the instrumentation and session man Curtis Amy, who provided the sax solo at the end recreating his work for the cameras. The Smothers Brothers recording became the basis for the music video that would air 13 years later on MTV.
While “Touch Me” remains my all time favorite Doors Tune, some critics considered it a sell-out. The introduction of horns to the typically more sparse arrangements was something new, an addition that Morrison said made the tune a fusion between jazz and rock and roll. As the single was rising on the charts, another band was about to gain traction with a similar mixture of guitars, keyboards and horns. Chicago Transit Authority LP from the eponymous band broke through in the spring of 1969.
Trivia fans, point to the last three notes of “Touch Me” as a direct lift from the popular television commercial for the laundry detergent, Ajax‘s musical moniker “Stronger Than Dirt”, something the band admitted and an homage that gave the ad campaign immortality.
“Touch Me” became the band’s third and final top ten single. “Love Her Madly” and “Riders on the Storm” would crack the top 20 in 1971. But by then, Morrison’s alcoholism had taken hold. He died in Paris on July 3, 1971 two years to the day after Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, and just nine months after Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin passed on. All four were just 27 years old.