This is the 93rd post in a weekly series. Read about it here and see the list of previous songs here. A new post about a different song is posted each Monday. You can listen to the songs in a Spotify playlist.
Before forming The Doors, Ray Manzarek was in a band called Rick & The Ravens with his brothers, Rick Manczarek and Jim Manczarek. (Ray eventually dropped the “c” from the family name, and his brothers kept it.) The band recorded a few singles, and during a recording session with the Aura label, the band recorded a six-song demo with Ray Manzarek’s friend Jim Morrison. Among the songs they recorded was “Hello, I Love You,” inspired by a young woman that Morrison and Ray Manzarek saw at Venice Beach. Morrison found her pretty, but Manzarek said she was too young. Morrison opted not to approach her, and instead wrote down what he would have said had he had the courage to talk to her.
Shortly after recording these songs, Rick & The Ravens broke up, leaving Manzarek free to start a band with Morrison, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore. That band became The Doors, taking its name from Aldous Huxley’s “The Doors of Perception,” which itself referred to a quote in a book written by William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.” The band had success with its first two albums, both released in 1967, having several hits, including “Light My Fire” and “People Are Strange.”
The band struggled during the recording of the third album, in part because Morrison’s “intemperance.” One day, Densmore threw his drum sticks across the room and announced he was quitting the band. To mollify him, the other members of the band looked through Morrison’s old poems to see if they could find something the band could record. In those old poems, they discovered “Hello, I Love You,” which they hadn’t done anything with since the 1965 Rick & The Ravens session. The Doors recorded it, and it became the first track on “Waiting for the Sun.”
Robbie Krieger was later accused of ripping the guitar riff of “Hello, I Love You” from The Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night,” though he has since said that if the song took influence from anything, it was Cream’s “Sunshine Of My Love.” In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, The Kinks’ Ray Davies said, “My publisher wanted to sue. I was unwilling to do that. I think they cut a deal somewhere, but I don’t know the details.”
In the years since, “Hello, I Love You” has split off onto its own timeline, taking on sounds and contexts divorced from any of its influences, be it Cream or The Kinks. It has not been the most-covered Doors song — that’s “Light My Fire” — but it’s been covered more than most of the songs.
Kim Fowley, who later assembled The Runaways, released some of his own records before becoming a manager and producer. His 1968 album “Born to Be Wild” had several covers, including an instrumental version of “Hello, I Love You.” Its faithfulness to the original makes it now sound like a karaoke backing track.
By the time Buddy Rich Big Band released “Buddy & Soul” in 1969, Rich had released several albums demonstrating his talent with drum solos. On the instrumental cover of “Hello, I Love You,” recorded live at the Whiskey A-Go-Go, Rich and company started out playing close to the source material before veering off onto several tangents. But they were enjoyable tangents.
Roger Jouret is better known as Plastic Bertrand, who recorded “Ça Plane Pour Moi.” Before that, though, he had been in a Belgian punk/new wave group called Hubble Bubble. The second Hubble Bubble record, “Faking,” had a version of “Hello, I Love You” that mainly sounded like a lo-fi recreation of the original. And then with about 30 seconds left, the song sped up and got heavy, with repeated screams of “Hello! Hello! Hello!”
In 1980, Italian avant-garde group The Stupid Set released a cover of “Hello, I Love You” that Martin Schneider of Dangerous Minds said “bears a very strong similarity to” Devo’s cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” The comparison is not unwarranted, as both covers were quirky, and here, I use quirky to be a polite way of saying “weird as shit.”
New wave band Missing Persons’ first EP had four songs: “I Like Boys,” “Mental Hopscotch,” “Destination Unknown,” and a cover of “Hello, I Love You.” By listening to the instrumental track alone, you’d have no idea that the band was performing The Doors’ “Hello, I Love You.” Dale Bozzio’s delivery toggled between sounding robotic and seductive, which is probably an apt description for many of her songs.
Adam Ant’s 1982 album “Fried or Foe” was his first solo album after he parted ways with most of the other members of Adam and the Ants. Guitarist Marco Pirroni was the only surviving Ant to appear on the album. The standouts were the soon-to-be signature songs “Desperate But Not Serious” and “Goody Two Shoes,” though Ant’s “Hello, I Love You” benefitted from the horns that permeated the rest of the album.
The Delmonas was a British group that combined the sounds of ’60s girls groups with the gritty sound of garage bands. On the band’s 1984 EP “Hello, We Love You,” The Delmonas’ cover of “Hello, I Love You” sounded less like The Doors and more like, well, The Kinks. If there’s a version of the song that sounds like an homage to “All Day and All of the Night,” it’s this one. And that’s fine by me.
“Rubáiyát: Elektra’s 40th Anniversary” was a 1990 compilation to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Elektra record label. The conceit of the collection was to have current Elektra artists cover songs from the label’s wide vault of past songs. The Cure’s “Inbetween Days” was covered by John Eddie, and in turn, The Cure covered “Hello, I Love You.” The song didn’t sound like The Doors’ version, but rather a Cure original, down to the Robert Smithisms of “doo, doo, doo.”
Released in 2000, the “Darken My Fire: A Gothic Tribute to The Doors” compilation featured darkly recast versions of Doors songs, many of which involved distortion, drum machines, and speeding up the songs. The “People Are Strange” cover by UK band Nosferatu sounded like an industrial track you’d hear at a friend’s goth night, and the The Newlydeads’ “Hello, I Love You” had the same vibe. The fuzzy, screaming vocals and crunchy guitars might sound out of place, but the overall goth vibe fits for The Doors, given that a lot of Morrison’s lyrics were dark, moody, and weird as shit.
That same year, another Doors tribute compilation was released. Released by Elektra, “Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors” was in some ways an extension of the label’s “Rubáiyát” tribute album. The honor of covering “Hello, I Love You” went to alternative band Oleander, which might be best known for its late-’90s singles, “Why I’m Here” and “I Walk Alone.” What separated this tribute album from others was the fact that the surviving members of The Doors appeared on many tracks, which is how Krieger ended up playing back-up on a song he helped write.
“Neon Lights” was a 2001 covers album in which Simple Minds covered a range of songs, the title track being a cover of Kraftwerk. For those whose frame of reference for Simple Minds begins and ends with the band’s ’80s hits like “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” or “Alive and Kicking,” the cover of “Hello, I Love You” will sound foreign.
“Hello, I Love You” was covered again in 2004 for yet another Doors tribute album. “Opening Doors: A Jazz Tribute to The Doors” featured jazz vocalist Lou Lanza recasting the bands songs in a way that sounded more like Paul Anka or Richard Cheese than Jim Morrison.
On the 2005 album “You Call This Swing?,” Eight to the Bar ambitiously picked a dozen well-known rock songs and remade them as swing songs. That idea has worked well for covers, as both The Puppini Sisters and Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox have both turned that idea into a successful genre. What Eight to the Bar brought to “Hello, I Love You” was a swagger that showed the band was as influenced by blues as it was swing.
Released in 1985, Eurythmics’s “Be Yourself Tonight” was the duo’s most commercially successful release, including “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart),” “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves,” and “Would I Lie to You?” And when the album was reissued 20 years later in 2005, it was even better, as the reissue included a synth-heavy “Hello, I Love You.” Lennox, as always, managed to sound both emotional and yet too cool for school.
Whereas previous tributes focused on specific genres, the 2014 compilation “A Psych Tribute to The Doors” paid homage to the band’s influence on psychedelic music. Dark Horses’ cover of “Hello, I Love You” was a slow burn, with guitars and drums slowly building over five minutes.
Boy George, Jack Black, and original Doors guitarist Robby Krieger performed “Hello, I Love You” in 2015 on an episode of Conan O’Brien’s “Conan.” Jack Black’s performance was reminiscent of his role in “High Fidelity,” which made sense, given that he was basically playing himself in that movie. Goofy as the Conan performance was, it was easy to see that the two had fun playing the iconic song with one of the original members of the Doors.
That so many of these covers appear on tribute compilations is noteworthy, though not surprising. After all, The Doors was a commercially successful and artistically influential band. It’s not a surprise that artists would want to pay tribute and labels would want to cash in on that.
That the song was influenced by Morrison seeing a young woman he thought was attractive gives the song a rather basic origin story given that the songwriter was prone to draw influences from poetry, literature, and other high-brow sources. That the woman in question might have been an underage girl, per Manzarek’s recollection, makes the song creepy in retrospect. Some of the sexually suggestive lyrics sound predatory in the context of being about a minor:
Do you think you’ll be the guy
To make the queen of the angels sigh?
Do you hope to make her see, you fool?
Do you hope to pluck this dusky jewel?
But in the covers of that song, that context can be wiped clean. It might have been inspired by Morrison lusting after a young girl, but that doesn’t have to affect how we view the cover versions. For example, I really doubt that Boy George was thinking about young girls when he sang on the song.
Just a hunch.