Carry me Caravan take me away.
Take me to Portugal, take me to Spain.
Andalusia with fields full of grain
I have to see you again and again.
Take me, Spanish Caravan.
Yes, I know you can.
Trade winds find Galleons lost in the sea.
I know where treasure is waiting for me.
Silver and gold in the mountains of Spain
I have to see you again and again.
The Doors’ third album, Waiting for the Sun, abandoned much of the psychedelic sound they had perfected in Strange Days. It was the first popular album by a group previously known exclusively as “psychedelic” to make a shift away from that aesthetic. Instead, for the most part, psychedelic effects were added to pop songs on this album without any structural necessity. A well-known example of this was the hit single from the album, Hello I Love You, a #1 song that paused for a moment to emit a psychedelic “boing” effect, to comically express bug eyes before a beautiful woman, before returning to the basic rock song structure. [A similar device had been used for ironic fun in the Mother of Invention’s song Absolutely Free.] It seems that at the time, Jim Morrison was most interested in using the Doors musicians to back his theatrical performance, such as he’d done in Unknown Soldier (a far less popular single than Hello I Love You). The album was to include a side concerning the Lizard King, part of a stage show, but the only part included from the performance piece was Not to Touch the Earth. Otherwise, several of the songs on the album were mild attempts at becoming the “new Frank Sinatra” (an ambition Jay Z presently has for himself). It worked. This was the Doors’ only number one album. It was the first of the Doors albums to chart in the UK. The album’s only cut to maintain the Doors’ previous fascination with psychedelia was Spanish Caravan. It would be the last time the Doors would create a successful psychedelic song for nearly three years.
Spanish Caravan featured Robbie Krieger playing acoustic flamenco guitar, and is actually an mashup of a classical Granadina called Austurias (Leyenda) written by Isaac Albéniz and published in 1892, and an improvisation on Malagueña composed by Ernesto Lacuona in 1928. In showing off Krieger’s skills as a classical guitarist, though, it would have a relation to psychedelic music similar to Embryonic Journey by Jorma Kaukonen of the Jefferson Airplane on the album Surrealistic Pillow. It would have served as a contrast, or break, from the psychedelic aesthetic. However, Ray Manzarek’s Gibson organ plays psychedelic magic over the classical guitar lines, swirling like rapid filigree weaving through a lattice, much as he had played organ on Strange Days. Crashes of fuzz bass smash against the song by the second verse like high seas and phasing is used (without exaggerated effect) to create a suggestion of a whirlwind.
The lyrics are sung with a note assigned to each syllable, and seem to praise the Iberian Peninsula as a destination for a ship seeking silver and gold. This is a reversal of what one would expect: historically, the Spanish galleon should be looking for treasure in the New World, not in the mountains of Andalusia. I can find no clue why this reversal has taken place, and can only speculate that as an American, the poet feels he must come to Europe for artistic inspiration in an exotic art form unrelated to American blues and jazz and country music. The lyric would then express a psychedelic aesthetic that was already being lost to an amalgamation of psychedelia with precisely those American forms.