Forty years after the release of The Doors’ final album, L.A. Woman, the legendary rock band is premiering a never-before-released track today on their Facebook page. “She Smells So Nice” was discovered recently while the band was putting together a special 40th anniversary double-CD edition of L.A. Woman filled with out-takes and alternate versions of classic songs like “Love Her Madly” and “Riders On The Storm.”
Listen: The Doors "She Smells So Nice"
The Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek (second from right in the above photo) says he had forgotten all about the bluesy track from the L.A. Woman sessions. “I didn’t even know it existed,” he told Complex in an exclusive interview. “It was a surprise to all of us. Our producer/engineer Bruce Botnick was digging through all the out-takes and said ‘Hey! There’s a new song here.’ [Laughs.] 'She Smells So Nice.' And you know which part that is.”
I first heard the Bo Diddley beat on the radio in Chicago and said 'Holy Christ! What tribe is this?' It’s a tribe called 'American black man,' or 'Negro,' as they used to say.
The first band ever to release eight platinum albums in a row, The Doors are certified rock royalty. Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, they’ve also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Jim Morrison, The Doors’ iconic lead singer, moved to Europe and died within months of L.A. Woman’s release.
The tumultuous times surrounding the making of the historic album are captured in a new behind-the-scenes documentary Mr. Mojo Risin’: The Story of L.A. Woman, which will premiere later this month at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, and is also available on DVD/Blu-Ray.
Recorded live in The Doors’ California rehearsal studio, “She Smells So Nice” finds Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, drummer John Densmore, and Elvis Presley’s bass player Jerry Scheff jamming with Morrison like they were a Chicago blues band.
“What’s great in music is that each new generation comes along and draws from the past,” says Manzarek. "Robby was listening to a lot of country blues and Morrison loved the blues.... I grew up in Chicago so I was influenced by Muddy Waters and jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley. I first heard the Bo Diddley beat on the radio in Chicago and said 'Holy Christ! What tribe is this?' It’s a tribe called 'American black man,' or 'Negro,' as they used to say. The American Negro right here in Chicago playing that incredible beat. I heard that and just was hooked. That’s all I wanted to do. And then I heard Howlin’ Wolf and I heard Muddy Waters doing “Hoochie Coochie Man.” That beat. That ba-bum-ba-bum-bum. Bass bass. Ba-bum-ba-bum-bum. And the singer sings in the space. It’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant."
After Morrison’s death at age 27 from a suspected heroin overdose, the band released An American Prayer, an album of his spoken-word poetry set to music—in much the same way a DJ might blend a beat with an acapella.
It’s great that black guys take from white guys, cause white guys sure as hell take from black guys. I’ll tell ya that.
“That was straight-ahead reading,” says Manzarek. “That was no music, no idea of anything. But he had such an innate sense of timing and rhythm and space that we were able to just jump in and put music underneath it."
Many rap fans were first introduced to the band’s sound in 2001 when Kanye West sampled “Five To One” from The Doors’ 1968 album Waiting For The Sun to make the beat for Jay-Z’s classic diss song “Takeover” from The Blueprint, widely considered the greatest album of Jay’s career. Although Manzarek has never heard the record produced by his fellow Chicagoan, he says he has no problem with hip-hop artists sampling The Doors’ music.
“We love it, man,” Manzarek says with a laugh. “That’s like cross-culturalization. I mean, it’s great that black guys take from white guys, cause white guys sure as hell take from black guys. I’ll tell ya that. So I think it’s great. Let’s have inter-racial love. That’s what it’s all about—both sexual and musical. Works for me.”