Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 017
Mon, Feb 10, 2013

“Soul Kitchen”
The Doors


“♫ Well,
your fingers
weave quick
minarets/ speak
in secret alphabets/
I light another
cigarette/ learn to

According to Stephen Davis in his book, Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend, when Jim Morrison wrote “Soul Kitchen” marked a very important epiphany moment in the story of The Doors as he wrote, “Jim would come in with a new song written on a crumpled paper napkin and chant-sing the words while the band helped him figure out the melody and arrangement. “Soul Kitchen” (inspired by Olivia’s soul food restaurant) happened that way and emerged in its powerful form during the course of a single evening rehearsal. This was when Ray knew his vision would come true. “I said to Jim, “This is it. We’re gonna make it. We’re gonna make great music and people are going to love it.” “Soul Kitchen” was the spark that sent Jim Morrison and The Doors rising into rock music immortality.

Did you know the original inspiration for Jim Morrison’s “Soul Kitchen” was Olivia’s in Santa Monica? In his book Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison & The Doors, drummer John Densmore wrote, “Olivia’s. A small soul food restaurant at the corner of Ocean Park and Main. A roadside diner that belonged in Biloxi, Mississippi. The place was packed, as usual. The restaurant that Jim later memorialized as the ‘Soul Kitchen’ was full of UCLA film students. It looked like an Amtrak dining car that got stranded on the beach.”

“Soul Kitchen” reminds me of a part-time job I temporarily held, just out of high school; I was fired from this burger joint in San Antonio for writing on wet cement during my last smoke break. Since I was working at a restaurant I wanted to honor the spirit of Jim Morrison and The Doors so I decided to write “Jim Morrison lives in our Soul Kitchen.” The owners must not have been Doors fans because they fired me the next day. Still, I may have lost my job but somewhere I feel like Jim Morrison’s grinning up there.

There are many renditions of “Soul Kitchen” I actually prefer the Absolutely Live version but you can’t deny the addictive pop vibe of the original from the first The Doors album.

So many versions of “Soul Kitchen” so little time. Take a trip inside, sit down and enjoy the lyrical spread of this “Soul Kitchen” feast.

Did you know lead singer of Echo & the Bunnymen was a Doors fan? Ian McCulloch, once claimed, “Soul Kitchen was the first song I ever liked by The Doors. I like their stuff when it’s straightforward-y’know, four-minute classics. I’m not keen on the psychedelic stuff.” Ironically enough, the studio cover, found as a bonus cut on their self-titled 1987 Echo & The Bunnymen LP, of “Soul Kitchen” does have a soulfully psychedelic vibe and a very clever “Light My Fire” breakdown; although I do love Echo’s funky live Crystal Days version recorded in 1985.

Patti Smith said before recording Twelve, her album of cover songs, “Soul Kitchen” came to her in a dream. Her iTunes Original Version is quiet sultry with a bluesier flavor.

Lastly, we can’t forget the Ray Manzarek produced the Los Angeles punk rockers X cover version on their 1980 debut album.