1967 – The debut LP from Doors (featuring…

The Doors

1967 – The debut LP from Doors (featuring Light My Fire) enters the American LP charts.

Lyrics:

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

“Light My Fire” is a song originally performed by The Doors which was recorded in August 1966 and released in January 1967. It spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard’s Hot 100, and one week on the Cashbox Top 100. It was re-released in 1968, peaking at number 87. The song was largely written by Robby Krieger, and credited to the entire band. A live version was released in 1983 on their album Alive, She Cried, the first of several live or compilation albums released in subsequent decades to include the song.

The song is #35 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was also included in the Songs of the Century list and was ranked number 7 in VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

José Feliciano’s cover version won a 1969 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, the same year he won another Grammy for Best New Artist.

Origins and radio edits

The song originated as a Robby Krieger unfinished composition, which the other band members then expanded upon. There was also a radio edit that was shortened to just under five minutes with about half the instrumental portion in place, released only to radio stations. Indeed, the band always stated that their preferred version was the original long version, while the shorter ones were solely produced at their company’s request in order to be able to receive radio airplay.

Performance

“Light My Fire” was performed by The Doors on a famous appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show September 17, 1967. In an oft-told legend, The Doors were asked to change the lyrics of the song (specifically, the line “girl, we couldn’t get much higher”). The producers told Morrison to write a new lyric for the line, but he refused. The band promised to do so, but according to Jim Morrison he forgot to change the lyrics at the last minute and performed the unedited version live on-air, which he attributed to having been nervous. Years later, Ray Manzarek wrote that even after being told to change the lyrics, the band never even considered changing them. Despite applause from the crowd, Ed Sullivan was so upset that he refused to shake Morrison’s hand as he left the stage. Backstage, the band was told that, despite being on the verge of signing a seven-episode deal to continue appearing on the program, they would never be on the Sullivan show again. Reportedly, Morrison’s cavalier response was: “Hey, man, so what, we just did the Sullivan show!”

Conflict with Buick

John Densmore recalls) and Morrison, who had been out of town, learned that other group members agreed, Morrison called Buick and threatened to have a Buick smashed with a sledgehammer on a TV show should the (presumably ready) commercial be aired.

Covers

The song’s harmonic progression, based on John Coltrane’s version of My Favorite Things, and catchy rhythm (particularly Ray Manzarek’s swirling, barrel organ-style keyboard motif) lent itself readily to pop or MOR styled cover versions.

Cover versions were recorded by Astrud Gilberto, Will Young (whose version hit number one in the United Kingdom), Amii Stewart (whose version got to number 6 in the United Kingdom, in 1979, and to number 8 as a remix in 1985) Natalia Oreiro, Jose Feliciano (whose version won a Grammy in 1969 Best Pop song of the year), Nancy Sinatra, Julie London, Friedrich Gulda, Julie Driscoll & the Brian Auger Trinity, Shirley Bassey, Erma Franklin, Baccara, Cibo Matto, Africa, Divididos, UB40, Massive Attack, The Mike Flowers Pops, the LN Elektronische Ensemble. Amorphis, Hide, Minnie Riperton, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Ananda Shankar, Trini Lopez, John Tartaglia, Zacharias and Train, whose version can be found on the tribute compilation Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors. The Challengers did an instrumental version in 1969, as title track to one of their last albums.
“Light My Fire”
Single by José Feliciano
from the album Feliciano!
B-side     “California Dreamin'”
Released     1968
Format     7″ single
Genre     Soft rock
Length     3:33
Label     RCA Victor
Producer     Rick Jarrard
Certification     Gold (USA)
José Feliciano singles chronology
“La Copa Rota”
(1968)     “Light My Fire”
(1968)     “Hi-Heel Sneakers” / “Hitchcock Railway”
(1968)

José Feliciano

Vocalist and guitarist José Feliciano experienced significant international success when he released his version of “Light My Fire” in 1968 as a single on the RCA Victor label. It is perhaps the best known cover of this song, reaching #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts, only a year after the original had been a #1 hit on the same chart. Feliciano’s remake blended Latin influences, including a mixture of classic Spanish guitar and flamenco, with American pop sounds and Feliciano saying “Light my fire light my fire light my fire” over and over again. The single helped to spur the worldwide success of its album, Feliciano!, which was nominated for multiple Grammy awards in 1969. Feliciano’s arrangement of “Light My Fire” has influenced several subsequent versions, including that by Will Young and same writer Robbie Krieger says in a 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”

Chart performance
Country     Peak
position
Australia     3
Brazil     2
Canada     1
France     62
Ireland     14
Netherlands     24
United Kingdom     6
United States     3
“Light My Fire”
“Light My Fire” cover
Single by Will Young
from the album From Now On
B-side     “Ain’t No Sunshine”
“Beyond the Sea”
Released     27 May 2002
Format     CD
Recorded     2002
Genre     Pop
Label     BMG
Producer     Absolute
Will Young singles chronology
“Anything Is Possible” / “Evergreen”
(2002)     “Light My Fire”
(2002)     “The Long and Winding Road” / “Suspicious Minds”
(2002)

Will Young

Pop Idol UK series 1 winner Will Young covered the song in 2002. Young originally performed a piano version the song in the final 50 of Pop Idol, and again, with a backing track, in the final 10. It was later released as his second single. It went straight to the number one spot in the UK Singles Chart, selling 177,000 copies in its first week of release. The single stayed at number one for two weeks. The cover version was recorded in the style of José Feliciano’s version.

Young also performed the song on World Idol, where he came in fifth place.

Chart performance
Chart     Peak
position
Germany     44
Italy     4
Netherlands     35
Republic of Ireland     5
Switzerland     76
United Kingdom     1

Other covers

Stevie Wonder performed a soulful version of the song for the album My Cherie Amour in 1969. Shirley Bassey recorded this song on her 1970 album Something. The song was also covered by disco artist Amii Stewart in 1979 as “Light My Fire/137 Disco Heaven”. In 1977, the song was covered by the Spanish group Baccara. The song was called “Light My Fire (Baby, Won’t You Reach Out)”, and included on their album with the same name.

In 1988 the Argentinian band Divididos covered the song on their debut album “40 Dibujos Ahi en el Piso” (40 Drawings there on the floor). The song was also covered by Scott Stapp with the rest of The Doors on VH1’s Storytellers, as well as on a recorded version. Baccara’s version is the second known disco version of the song, and appeared on the album of the same name. The Finnish death metal band Amorphis covered the song as a bonus track on the re-release of Tales from the Thousand Lakes. Bristol trip-hop group Massive Attack covered the song on the album Protection. Beastie Boys covered the song for the vinyl release of Aglio e Olio. In 2006 French singer Laurent Voulzy covered the song on the album La Septième vague. Jackie Wilson’s 1968 cover is sampled in track 2 of Lemon Jelly’s Triptych Mix. American Idol season 7 contestant Michael Johns sang this cover of this song on American Idol.

The lyrics from the song’s chorus were used by hip hop artist Necro on the track “Light My Fire”. The song is off of his 2002 album Gory Days and has nothing in common with the original song other than its chorus lyrics.

A piano version of the song was created by pianist George Winston on his album Night Divides the Day – The Music of the Doors.

In Popular Culture

* The recording by The Doors was featured in the film Altered States.

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