The Doors’ “quiet one,” guitarist Robby Krieger, may have lacked the opinionated confidence of drummer John Densmore or the sheer verbosity of keyboardist Ray Manzarek -- not to mention the blinding rock-star charisma of singer Jim Morrison. But Krieger was arguably the band’s secret weapon. He was also, frequently, the legendary group’s songwriting catalyst, and a major creative force in pushing their, and indeed rock’s, boundaries into unrelated musical spheres. So join us as we celebrate him with this list of Top 10 Robby Krieger Doors Songs.
"Runnin' Blue"From: ‘The Soft Parade’ (1969)
Though not exactly legendary by Doors standards, The Soft Parade’s "Runnin’ Blue" boasts the only Krieger lead vocal prior to the group’s ill-fated, post-Morrison efforts. As such, it’s a no brainer for our list of Top 10 Robby Krieger Doors Songs, even though the gist of his parts, which alternate with Morrison’s, appear to parody Bob Dylan’s nasal twang with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
"Ship of Fools"From: ‘Morrison Hotel’ (1970)
“The human race was dying out … ” So begins this happy little ditty composed by Krieger for the Morrison Hotel LP — as morbid a Doors song as there’s ever been, and for once, the Lizard King wasn’t to blame for its apocalyptic vibes. Instead, they were Krieger's to explain, but at least the guitarist quickly countered them with his inventive guitar performance for the duration.
"Indian Summer"From: ‘Morrison Hotel’ (1970)
On "Indian Summer," Krieger can be heard revisiting some of the the deliberate, Eastern-flavored string-picking used to such haunting effect on the Doors’ dark magnum opus, "The End." Only on this occasion, these are perked up by the slightest twinge of hope so as to achieve a wistful, dreamy facade for Jim Morrison to recite Krieger’s uncharacteristically direct (by Doors standards) lyrics.
"Queen of the Highway"From: ‘Morrison Hotel’ (1970)
Krieger’s heavily distorted staccato riffs introduce another Morrison Hotel nugget, "Queen of the Highway." Though it was consigned to the meat of side two, the song actually boasted a catalog of tasty Krieger licks for his discerning fans and six-string acolytes to dissect and try replicating.
"Spanish Caravan"From: ‘Waiting for the Sun’ (1968)
A product of the troubled sessions for 1968’s Waiting for the Sun,’ "Spanish Caravan" stands as a rather obvious, but nonetheless sparkling showcase for Krieger’s flamenco guitar techniques. The song’s opening statement was inspired by a classical piece named "Asturias (Leyenda)," written almost a century earlier by Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz.
"Wishful Sinful"From: ‘The Soft Parade’ (1969)
A highlight from the fan- and critic-dividing The Soft Parade, "Wishful Sinful" came as close as any song on said album to capturing the the Doors’ vision for densely orchestrated chamber-rock. Specifically, because, for once, its undeniable chorus hooks got along just swimmingly with the ornate symphonic arrangements that were here draped atop the Doors’ standard rock band instrumentation.
"Roadhouse Blues"From: ‘Morrison Hotel’ (1970)
Having proved his genre-hopping versatility for years and brought so many unconventional influences into the rock and roll sphere, Krieger displayed his mettle as a blues player on the timeless "Roadhouse Blues." In what surely qualifies among the Doors’ most aggressive and spontaneous performance, Robby acknowledges such blues greats as Albert King and Elmore James with his fluid and confident playing.
"Peace Frog"From: ‘Morrison Hotel’ (1970)
Krieger clearly stepped up his songwriter contributions for the Morrison Hotel LP, and "Peace Frog" was his most memorable submission. Built around a percussive scratch riff concocted by the guitarist, then punctuated by Ray Manzarek’s timely organ interjections, the tune is deceptively simple and delivered a much needed radio single for the band at a difficult juncture of their career.
"Love Her Madly"From: ‘L.A. Woman’ (1971)
Krieger delivered the first single from the Doors’ final album with Jim Morrison, and while his playing doesn’t dominate proceedings, it’s absolutely integral to the song’s melodic hook – and we obviously must acknowledge it in our list of Top 10 Robby Krieger Doors Songs. A significant hit too, "Love Her Madly" peaked at No. 11 even as it cast a rare ray of sunshine on the Doors’ shadowy final months.
"Light My Fire"From: ‘The Doors’ (1967)
Our list of the Top 10 Robby Krieger Doors Songs is topped by the classic that launched the band’s career, "Light My Fire." Originally sketched out by Krieger as a lilting love song, before evolving into a seven-minute jam (complete with Ray Manzarek’s classically inspired vamps), the unedited version of "Light My Fire" also yielded a two-minute Krieger solo that was a sterling platform for the young man’s precocious talents.