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Soul Kitchen

by

The Doors



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This is a tribute to a soul food restaurant Jim Morrison ate at on Venice Beach called Olivia's. Morrison often stayed too late at Olivia's, where he liked the food because it reminded him of home and warmed his "soul." They often kicked him out so they can close, thus lines like: "let me sleep all night, in your soul kitchen."

"Soul Kitchen" as a restaurant title, would have of course referred to "soul food." That's a traditional kind of cuisine popular with African Americans of the mid-20th century, named in harmony with other "soul" affectations. Soul food usually revolved around ham (cuts like hog's feet and hog jowls), beans, okra, hushpuppies, cornbread, collard greens, and other one-offs of standard American fair. The idea is to that the food is both economical and very filling. People in colder climates (from any culture) may also find soul food comforting in the heart of winter, since you're going to burn all those calories shoveling snow anyway.
According to the Greil Marcus book The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, "Soul Kitchen" was The Doors' own "Gloria," comparing the steady climb toward a looming chorus. It also quotes Paul Williams' May 1967 article in Crawdaddy! opining that it was more comparable to "Blowin' in the Wind," in that both songs have a message, but the message of "Soul Kitchen" is of course "learn to forget."

Meanwhile, John Densmore's book Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors declares that the title restaurant Olivia's was a "small soul food restaurant at the corner of Ocean Park and Main." The author describes a meal there with Morrison, commenting that the restaurant "belonged in Biloxi, Mississippi" and resembled "an Amtrak dining car that got stranded on the beach" and was packed with UCLA film students. Another famous diner was Linda Ronstadt.
He is not credited on the album, but Larry Knetchel was brought in to play bass. The Doors usually did not use a bass player, but producer Paul Rothchild felt this needed it.
This song was used as part of the soundtrack to the 1994 blockbuster film Forrest Gump and in the 2003 documentary Mayor of the Sunset Strip. The song "I'm a Tree" by alternative Hip-Hop artist Imani Coppola samples this song, and Coppola's song appears in many more film and TV episode soundtracks.
Jim Morrison sang lead and harmony. His vocals were overdubbed.
The punk rock band X released a cover of this song on their 1980 album Los Angeles.
In terms of time length, at 3 min. 35 seconds, this song is the second-longest on The Doors' debut album. With the longest, of course, being "The End."
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Comments (25):

Soul Kitchen was written about Olivia's Place at 2618 Main St. in Ocean Park(Santa Monica). It was run by Olivia, a little black woman with a great smile and she
made soul food that cost one dollar for a full meal. I went almost every night in 1965 and 66. Tiny little place with the best vibes and warmth. It was
in a very rundown part of town in the mid Sixties that is now very upscale. There is The California Heritage Museum on the site now at 2612 Main Street.
When I lived there in 1966 going to Santa Monica (City) College, I rented a whole floor of a mansion, still there now, for $100. bucks a month.
In 1970 or 1971, Bill Norton filmed a scene for Cisco Pike there. Olivia’s Place was also the inspiration for the song "Soul Kitchen" by The Doors. It was demolished in 1972 or 1973 as part of a redevelopment project that turned Santa Monica's Main Street into a boulevard of trendy expensive shops and restaurants. "Well, the clock says its time to go... learn to forget, learn to forget, learn to forget... Let me sleep all night in your soul kitchen... I really want to stay here all night..."
- Jeffrey, Simi Valley, CA
I light another cigarette
learn to forget
learn to forget... Nice one!
- Natu, Addis ababa, Ethiopia
The organ in the second verse is missing on the original release. It is restored in the 40th Anniversary reissue.
- Sam, Torrance, CA
This is not the second longest song on the album. Light my Fire is. But this song is still awesome.
- Nate, New York, NY
Soul Kitchen was the first song I ever played with a band. The guitarist introduced me to the Doors first album before 'Light my Fire" got airplay. I learned the song by ear. I played with a guitarist and a drummer. I played left handed bass and keys on my dinky 4 octave Mini Compact Farfisa.
- Michael, Austin, TX
This song was about an area where the Black GI s spent their R and R, in South Viet Nam during the War. Things were still pretty segragated back then!
- Roger, Sacto, CA
Excuuuuuuuse me,but in FORRSET GUMP",The Movie,The Jenny on the ledge song was "FREE BIRD" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.The walking in vietnam song (one of many)was "SOUL KITCHEN" by The Doors.Any questions.......
- kurtis, portland, OR
It is about Olivia's in Venice Beach(LA). That was Jim's favorite place to grub becouse it reminded him of home in the south. Great song..
- Jim, Long Beach, CA
Actually, the Doors song featured in Forrest Gump is Love Her Madly. It's when Jenny tries to commit suicide by jumping off the ledge of the apartment building she was in.
- Beth, Winston-Salem, NC
whenever i hear this song i get a hankering for ribs...mmm riiiiibs
- nady, adelaide, Australia
Ray Manzerek's backing vocals on the version from their original double live album are fantastic. That song is the best thing on that album.
- Ray, Memphis, TN
i hate it when people cover doors songs,it ruins it for me
- nady, adelaide, Australia
The keyboard riff in this song is very catchy. Although it is similar to the opening riff to When the Music's Over, I like the use of it in this song better. This one's a classic for sure. Great stuff as usual.
- Roy, Granbania, MA
There is a line is John Recky's "City of Night" that says, "The neon forrest of LA." This seemed to influence Morrison when he wrote "neon grove."
- Michael, Jacksonvillw, FL
This song always seemed to me to be a longing by Jim for some place safe and warm and cozy where he could rest and feed his soul.Even Morrison ,who lived as wild as anybody in rock ever has,must have longed for some warm quiet times once in a while to let his poetic side absorb some much needed energy.
- Mark, byrdstown, TN
I think that this song is about a Spanish Restraunt that Jim use to eat at when he was going to UCLA film school.
- Matthew, Los Angeles, CA
I think soul kitchen is a metaphor for a woman's vagina........
But I could be wrong.
- Pete, Peru, NY
Really love the live version of this song in particular. One of their best.
- Ray, Memphis, TN
Thank you I didn't remember that. I don't remember that. Apparently there were more Lynyrd Skynyrd songs in that movie too. Sweet Home Alabama." Maybe I don't remember these songs because, I didn't know them at that time.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Agreed with Andrew. This is the ultimate song. Great to listen to when hooking up with Girls. This song kicks ass!
Morrison stated that the restraunt was poor and having pieces of paper as the menus but it was still a great restraunt
- Brettt, Grapevine, TX
Although you sound pretty confident, Stefanie, Soul Kitchen is used in Forrest Gump, as is People Are Strange, and Hello, I Love You. Break On Through (To The Other Side) is just the only Doors song featured on the soundtrack.
- Andrew, Cleveland, OH
No Peter> The song that was used in "Forrest Gump" was "Break On Through To the Other Side". I know because Ive seen the movie, and I also have the sound track.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
X covered this song on their "White Girl" album. X, if you don't know, is an early west coast punk band that Ray helped produce for. You can find the version on their anthology, and if you are a HUGE Doors fan like me, I think you will like the cover for its uniqueness.
- Majesta, Waynesboro, VA
If im not mistaken this song is used in Forrest Gump
- Peter, Providence, RI
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