06. The Soft Parade (1969)
“Horse Latitudes”: 36.17°N 115.13°W — or, Las Vegas, NV — Forget gambling, skip the strip clubs, and don’t buy tickets to any shows. You are the show. Take your ass to the Bellagio and start singing each song here — and loud. Though, be careful who you ask for “soft asylum.” Could get rough.
Number of songs pre-written for The Bee Gees: 1, “The Soft Parade”. John Densmore’s scatterbrained percussion has Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb written all over it.
The best cover of “Five to One”: “Wild Child”. Okay, so it’s not the same song, but the stomping Godzilla-like rhythm section and the song’s vocal melody echo the greatest track off of Strange Days. Morrison’s snarl on “wild chi-ld” even mimics how he screams “five to one.” Maybe they forgot.
Scrapped theme song for Dallas: “Tell All the People”. It’s all in the lyrics: “Can’t you see me growing, get your guns”; “Gonna bury all our troubles in the sand”: “Follow me across the sea/ Where milky babies seem to be.” Morrison hated the song, but J.R. would have loved it. Well, maybe not.
“Where’s your will to be weird?” When the 1885 version of ZZ Top — see: Back to the Future Part III — seemingly chimes in throughout “Runnin’ Blue”. Though, we doubt guitarist Robby Krieger would have been able to flip his guitar around like Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons. Just sayin’.
Wanna know how long this album took to make?
Shortest song: “Runnin’ Blue” (2:26)
Longest song: “The Soft Parade” (8:35)
Val Kilmer did it better: Nothing beats a drunken Kilmer flubbing the recording sessions and ad-libbing the lyrics to “Touch Me”, specifically the iconic chorus. It’s impossible to listen to the song now and not belt out: “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon now suck me, babe. Can’t you see, I need some fuckin’ head…” Thanks, Val.
Analysis: It’s unfortunate (and mildly unfair) to call The Soft Parade the band’s worst album, especially since it’s one of their more singular efforts and finds them tinkering with brass and strings in a manner that would become rather prevalent during the ’70s. The problem is that the album’s meandering, soggy middle — ahem, “Shaman’s Blues”, “Do It”, “Easy Ride”, and “Five to One”-rip-off “Wild Child” — deflates so much of the energy set in motion by “Tell All the People” and “Touch Me”. Even worse, they completely fumble their comeback (see: “Runnin’ Blue” and “Wishful Sinful”) with the dubious title track.
Having said that, “Touch Me” would slot somewhere in the top five best Doors songs, and proves that their brazen attempt at candied pop was not only earnest but completely warranted. That showy opening, that triumphant sax solo by Curtis Amy, and those lush magical strings … it’s gorgeous rock ‘n’ roll. It’s also irresistibly catchy, and anyone who sings it inevitably sounds like a drunk and stoned Bill Murray at late-night karaoke, which isn’t a bad thing by any means. For that alone, it’s worth having The Soft Parade in your collection, and with enough brandy, it’ll start to sound like the craziest Pat Boone album.
Fun fact: This was, not surprisingly, the band’s most expensive album.