The Story Behind ‘Light My Fire’ By The Doors
The Doors for Light My Fire - The Doors / Youtube
“Light My Fire” is one of The Doors’ classic hits and was released in 1967 on their self-titled debut album. But how did the song come to be? Read on to find out.
Guitarist Robbie Krieger was the primary creative behind the song, saying that he was inspired after hearing “Hey Joe” as well as The Rolling Stones’ “Play With Fire”. This was in line with his want to make a song about one of the elements, fire being the chosen theme for the song.
In an interview with Uncut, he said: “I was living with my parents in Pacific Palisades – I had my amp and SG. I asked Jim, what should I write about? He said, ‘Something universal, which won’t disappear two years from now. Something that people can interpret themselves.’ I said to myself I’d write about the four elements; earth, air, fire, water, I picked fire, as I loved the Stones song, ‘Play With Fire,‘ and that’s how that came about.”
The song came in thanks to a cascading flow of effort from each member, starting off as a folksy number but evolving when Jim Morrison wrote the second verse while Ray Manzarek introduced the opening organ run. Finally, John Densmore added a succinct drum rhythm that drove the song in motion.
“Light My Fire” had a problem with a length that didn’t fit with radio airplay standards, so they called in Paul Rothchild to make a single edit, which omitted the guitar solo, much to the dismay of fans. “We had that huge problem with the time length – seven-and-a-half minutes. Nobody could figure out how to cut it. Finally I said to Rothchild, ‘Nobody can cut it but you.’ When he cut out the solo, there were screams. Except from Jim. Jim said, ‘Imagine a kid in Minneapolis hearing even the cut version over the radio, it’s going to turn his head around.’ So they said, ‘Go ahead, release it.’ We released it with the full version on the other side,” said Jaz Holzman, founder of the Doors’ then-label, Elektra Records.
It’s quite ironic that while Morrison said he hated performing the song (probably due to the attention it got even if he only had minor contributions to it) but was the last song he ever performed live on December 12, 1970. He ended the song and the show midway, however, after becoming frustrated and throwing the mic to the stage floor.