The Doors’ song “Waiting for the Sun” is a hauntingly beautiful composition, with its deeply profound lyrics and its fluid slide guitar riffs. It was released on the album Morrison Hotel in 1970 and is one of several of the Doors’ slower, more eerie tracks on the album, others including “Blue Sunday” and “Indian Summer”. Apart from being the charismatic lead singer for the Doors, Jim Morrison was a poet and studied comparative literature and theatre at UCLA, resulting in songs with dark, surreal lyrics, often with abstract concepts.
There are so many ways of interpreting the complex lyrics to this song. To me, Waiting for the Sun is about man’s endless search for purpose in life and the universe. It discusses humanity’s tendencies in our search and flaws in our nature.
The “first flash of Eden” is a metaphor for something that appears to be salvation or enlightenment in some form, whether a person, idea, movement, etc. All people are desperate to find what they are seeking, so when they think they have found it they immediately “race down to the sea”. All too often, we race down immediately, without contemplating the rationality of our decisions. This is because everyone is desperate to find what it is they are searching for, so if there is any chance that what is sought for has been found, a person will take that chance. To be “standing there on freedom’s shore” is to be on the verge of discovering the truth of the so-called Eden’s validity. A person may do things in order to find out if they have truly found what they are looking for, such as taking part in certain practices. To illustrate, the time period in which this song was written was infamous for the use of LSD, which was believed to have mind-expanding properties. At this time, a person is “waiting for the sun”, or in other words, waiting to find if what they have found is genuinely what he or she was looking for.
“Can’t you feel it, Now that spring has come. That it’s time to live In the scattered sun. Waiting for the sun. Waiting for the sun. Waiting for the sun. Waiting for the sun. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.”
It appears that in this passage, Morrison is describing a person who believes that he has found a path to enlightenment, but the phrase “scattered sun” implies that whether this path is genuine is uncertain. Morrison may be implying that everyone spends their lives believing in something, whether a religion, philosophy, practice, etc., and we are all waiting because while we are taking the steps that supposedly lead us to what we are searching for, we can never be certain if our beliefs will truly give us what we want. If it is salvation after death that we seek, we will never truly know if our beliefs are valid until death. If one seeks spiritual enlightenment or nirvana, then you will not know if you are following the right path until your practices actually yield enlightenment. Thus, we are all “waiting for the sun”.
“Waiting for you to come along Waiting for you to hear my song Waiting for you to come along Waiting for you to tell me what went wrong”
In this bridge, Morrison’s tone changes. Previously he had been discussing the search for something beyond oneself, but here he speaks of people forgetting that they too have the power to contribute to the world. Many people spend their lives working towards achieving a set goal that they have deemed their “best” option. By dedicating their lives to this goal, many forget that their lives can be more than just an endless search. A person can achieve greatness by using their own gifts rather than constantly wandering until an answer is found. At some point in their lives everyone becomes lost at some point and overwhelmed by their search. At this time, a person would feel that their contributions don’t matter because they have done nothing to stand out, only followed a path. Because no one can “hear my song” the person is just another lost soul in search of something greater than himself, rather than finding a way to be great. Realizing his mistake, he says, “Waiting for you to tell me what went wrong”. Ironically, he is still “waiting”, even though waiting is what brought about his downfall, because he is bound to his search.
This single quote alone is subject to much debate and interpretation. One could argue that is is emphasis on the paradox mentioned above. Or, perhaps, it describes an even more unexpected turn of events. The person may have come to the end of the path and found what he/she had been searching for all along. The person may have even found something that transcends what he/she had originally been searching for by finding what it was that, although they may not have desired, they needed. The fact that there are so many possibilities further enforces the quote’s claim about the strangeness of life, because we can never know what we will find or when we will end up when traveling the path. Because life is so strange and all is uncertain, all we can control is ourselves and our own decisions.
“But although the paths took him away from Self, in the end they would always lead back to it”
– Hermann Hesse, “Siddhartha”
Thanks again for reading my post and I hope you enjoyed. This post especially was an individual interpretation. Morrison’s works are so complex and can be interpreted in a myriad of ways, so feel free to discuss your own interpretations in the comments if you disagree with or want to add to what I have said. Once more, I truly appreciate your support and hope that you all find what you are looking for as you travel your paths.