The Doors

Roadhouse Blues

Composed by Jim Morrison / John Densmore / Ray Manzarek / Robby Krieger

Song Review by

“Roadhouse Blues” opens up the Doors fifth studio LP with the band firing on all cylinders. Although Morrison Hotel was touted as a ‘blues’ album, this tune is one of the few tracks that fully bear that statement to fruition. Likewise, Jim Morrison had not yet lost his erotic bravado and magnetic arrogant swagger -- which he indeed exudes throughout the album, especially here. Augmenting the quartet are legendary blues guitarist Lonnie Mack -- who is uncharacteristically sporting a bass on this recording -- and some mean Chicago-style harp blowin’ from one G. Puglese -- who is better known as former Lovin’ Spoonful leader John B. Sebastian.

Morrison’s lyrics -- while perfectly matched to the song’s bar room/college dorm atmosphere -- seem atypically negligible at first. However, below that veneer lies some of his most authentically sexually charged images -- true to the spirit of both Morrison and the blues. Lines such as “Yeah, the back of the roadhouse/they got some bungalows/And That’s For The People who Like To Go Down Slow”, and the prototypical blues howl “You’ve got to roll, roll, roll/You’ve got to thrill my soul, all right” simultaneously hearken back to the basics of blues, yet retain a unique sense of Morrison’s inimitable poetry. Instrumentally, between Robbie Krieger’s stinging guitar inflections and accents, and winding through Ray Manzarek’s full throttle piano pounding, the cohesive nature of the Doors as a musical unit may have been arguably equalled, but never surpassed their efforts on “Roadhouse Blues”.

The song quickly became a performance favourite and was revived for the series of post-Miami concerts as well. The archival Live in Detroit (Cobo Hall, 05/08/1970) (2000) features a fiery version as does the Bright Midnight: Live in America sampler which contains an incendiary performance from Boston.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1970
Elektra 4:04
Morrison Hotel 1970 Analogue Productions 4:05
L.A. Woman 1971 Elektra
No Image 1975 WEA 4:04
Morrison Hotel/L.A. Woman 1982 Elektra 4:04
No Image 1985 Elektra
The Best of the Doors [1985] 1985 Elektra 4:03
In Concert 1991 Elektra 6:13
The Doors [Original Soundtrack] 1991
Original Soundtrack
Elektra 5:21
Greatest Hits 1996 Rhino
The Doors Box Set 1997 Elektra 4:18
No Image 1999 A*Vision Entertainment / Atlantic
The Complete Studio Recordings 1999 Elektra 4:04
Essential Rarities 2000 EastWest 4:31
Bright Midnight Records Sampler 2000 Elektra 5:22
The Best of the Doors [2000] 2000 WEA / WEA International
Live in Detroit (Cobo Hall, 05/08/1970) 2001 Elektra / Rhino 6:44
The Very Best of the Doors [2001] 2001 Rhino 4:08
Box Set, Pt. 1 2002 Elektra 4:19
Bright Midnight: Live in America 2002 Rhino 5:21
Legacy: The Absolute Best 2003 Warner Bros.
L.A. Woman/Morrison Hotel/The Doors 2003 Warner Bros. 4:04
Boot Yer Butt! 2003 Elektra / Rhino 5:03
From Clarksdale to Cleveland, Vol. 1: The Roadhouse 2004
Various Artists
Kejo Entertainment 4:01
Love Death Travel 2006 Rhino 4:05
Live in Philadelphia '70 2006 Bright Midnight Archives / Rhino 4:40
Perception 2006 Elektra / Rhino 4:04
Set the Night on Fire: The Doors Bright Midnight Archives Collection 2006 Elektra 6:44
The Very Best of the Doors 2007 Elektra / Rhino 4:08
Live in Boston 1970 2007 Rhino 5:53
The Future Starts Here: The Essential Doors Hits 2008 Elektra / Rhino 4:08
Live in Pittsburgh 1970 2008 Bright Midnight / DMC / Rhino 7:00
Live in New York 2009 Elektra / Rhino 6:17
When You're Strange: A Film About the Doors 2010 Elektra / Rhino 4:29
Live in Vancouver 1970 2010 Bright Midnight / Doors Music Company / Rhino 5:55
A Collection 2011 DMC Records / Rhino / Warner Music 4:08
The  Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live, Vol. 2
Various Artists
Time Life
No Image Elektra / Rhino 4:04
blue highlight denotes editor's pick