December 1968: The Doors Release TOUCH ME

Tuesday, December 28, 2021
Can't You See That I Am Not Afraid?

When it came time for the Doors to record the band's fourth studio album, Jim Morrison and company were exhausted. The group had just finished touring behind the wildly popular and chart-topping Waiting for the Sun album, which featured Hot 100 #1 hit, "Hello, I Love You." The Doors had become a worldwide sensation, and the sudden mainstream popularity and searing spotlight was more than Morrison had bargained for. Now dealing with anxiety, the singer was ready to walk away from the fame and the band entirely; with sessions for a new LP under way, keyboardist Ray Manzarek coaxed Morrison into seeing the record through to completion.

With Morrison's motivation waning, the rest of the Doors stepped up to support their reeling frontman. For guitarist Robby Krieger, it was an opportunity to get more involved in the songwriting process. Among his batch of tunes was one that would serve as the lead single for the new project: "Touch Me."

"Robby wrote the song, and the song was originally called 'Hit Me' – 'Come on, come on, come on, hit me, babe,'" the late Manzarek once explained. "And Morrison said, 'No way am I going to sing a song saying 'Hit me.'" He said, "Robby, people are going to walk up to me in the street, and hit me! They're gonna go, 'Come on, come on, come on, hit me' and punch me! I mean, if people are gonna do anything I want them to – wait a minute, I got it… I want 'em to touch me."

The band's producer, Paul A. Rothchild, was set on sprucing up the Doors' sound with strings and horn sections, much to Krieger's chagrin: "I said, 'Oh, God. Now we're copying the Beatles,' and the Stones had just done their version of the orchestra thing," the guitarist told Rolling Stone. "So it was like we were keeping up with the Joneses or something."

Despite any trepidation over the lush new orchestrations, the Doors released "Touch Me" as the first single from the then-forthcoming fourth full-length, The Soft Parade, in December 1968. The song's urgent delivery and inventive arrangement was a hit with listeners, driving the track up the charts to peak at #3 on the Hot 100 over the week of February 16, 1969. The #1 song in America that week: Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People."

"We had done three albums of the Doors, and John and I, being the jazzers, we always wanted to bring in some horns and strings," Manzarek espoused. "On 'Touch Me' is the great Los Angeles, Southern California jazz saxophone player, Curtis Amy, who does that fabulous solo at the end. So that's why we did it – jazz and classical, the Doors bring it all together, man!"