When Jim Morrison got drunk, he liked to sing Blues numbers at their jam sessions. They jammed on a lot of Blues numbers, and came up with this at one of the sessions.
Jim Morrison came up with the line about keeping your "Eyes on the road, your hands up on the wheel" after riding with his girlfriend, Pamela Courson, to a cottage they owned outside Los Angeles. She was driving erratically.
John Sebastian from the Lovin' Spoonful played harmonica. He is identified on the album as "G. Puglese" because he was afraid to be identified with The Doors in light of Morrison's arrest at a concert in Miami when he was accused of exposing himself to the crowd. Morrison was convicted of indecent exposure and sentenced to 6 months in jail, but he died while the case was being appealed. In 2010, Florida governor Charlie Crist granted Morrison a pardon, clearing him of the charges.
Guitar great Lonnie Mack played bass. The Doors usually did not use a bass player.
Doors guitarist Robby Krieger joined Creed on stage at Woodstock '99, where they performed this. It is on the Woodstock '99 CD.
This was the first song on Morrison Hotel. The album was a return The Doors' earlier style. On their previous album, The Soft Parade, they used a lot of strings and horns. Morrison didn't do much on that album because he was drunk for most of it and had nothing to do while all the instrumentation was being worked out. Before The Doors had a record deal, they played many Blues songs in their long club shows.
Outtakes from one of Morrison's recording sessions were used to dub his voice into a version of this on the 2000 tribute album Stoned Immaculate
, where he duets with John Lee Hooker.
In 2000, the surviving members of the Doors taped a VH1 Storytellers
episode with guest vocalists filling in for Morrison. Scott Stapp from Creed
sang on this.
This was released as the B-side of "You Make Me Real."
The Doors occasionally recorded old Blues songs, but even though this sounds like it could have been one of them, the wrote it themselves.
This has been called "the ultimate bar song," and it continues to be played by bar bands everywhere.
Krieger recalled to the NME July 17, 2010 how the album title came about: "Ray (Manzarek, keyboards) had been driving around downtown LA, and he saw this place called Morrison Hotel. So we decided to go down and shoot some photos there, but the guy who owned the hotel wouldn't let us inside it. I guess they thought we were hippies. There were a lot of drunks and bums hanging around that area. Anyway, we snuck in there real quick when he wasn't looking and got the shot that became the cover of Morrison Hotel."
Status Quo covered this song on their 1972 album Piledriver
, and the song quickly became a live favorite for the band. The group was wildly successful in England, and like many UK acts, was influenced by American rockers, often doing successful covers (their version of John Fogerty's "Rockin' All Over The World
" went to #3 in the UK). They were never able to conquer America, however, in part because they didn't tour there until 1973.