Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, Spooktober Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
The Doors, “Not To Touch The Earth” Album: Waiting For The Sun 1968
“We should see the gates by mornin’/ We should be inside the evenin’,” Jim Morrison croons, dizzying any listener into his spell. It doesn’t take much with this one. Off The Doors’ underrated third studio album, 1968’s Waiting for the Sun, “Not to Touch the Earth” is a technicolor hell in audio and a supernatural catastrophe that captures Morrison at his strongest and most deranged lyrically. Inspired by the writings of Scottish social anthropologist James Frazer, the song shifts in a multitude of directions, lamenting the dichotomy between heaven and hell with allusions to the occult and even ’60s politics. Terror aside, “Not to Touch the Earth” glues each member together in an assembly of strengths that really exude the warped psychedelic jazz rock The Doors would keep as their own forever. Love ’em, hate ’em, they were on another plane of existence.
Right out the gates, thanks to Krieger’s damning repetition, but here’s when the spine shatters: At 1:35, when Morrison warns: “Dead president’s corpse in the driver’s car/ The engine runs on glue and tar.” How angry, violent, and damning he sounds. I’ve always imagined Hell’s finest shuffling between this and “Sympathy for the Devil” … and maybe some Anal Cunt, too.
The lyric to this song is an excerpt from The Celebration Of The Lizard, a Jim Morrison poem that was going to take up the first side of Waiting For The Sun. “Not To Touch The Earth” was the only part of the 24-minute song that was compelling enough to put on the album, but the entire 133-line poem was included on the album sleeve. (A complete performance of the poem can be heard on the 1970 album Absolutely Live.)
Morrison cribbed the title, and also the line “Not to see the sun,” from Aftermath: A Supplement to the Golden Bough, a supplement to the 1890 book The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. Both works were written by the Scottish social anthropologist Sir James George Frazer. Morrison got the lines from the table of contents:
Chapter LXV — Not to Touch the Earth
Chapter LXVI — Not to See the Sun
The lyrics, “Dead presidents corpse in the driver’s car” refers to the assassination of US president John F. Kennedy.
One of Jim Morrison’s famous lines appears at the end of this song: “I am the Lizard King, I can do anything.”
The singer adopted “Lizard King” as one of his nicknames.