During his short life, Jim Morrison of the Doors was a role model to men and sex symbol for women. In this article you will learn about the man, music and messages associated with one of the best Rock bands and political provocateurs we have witnessed. His life was filled with creativity and chaos; along with conflicts and contradictions. Here you will find a carefully selected set of articles, pix, quotes, lyrics and more. I hope you will find lessons here and buy some of the MP3 files that are available from the live performances!! I have had a long random play list going!! It includes the awesome 2000 Tribute CD entitled “Stoned Immaculate.”
Like many others, he had a major influence on my young life – sparking seeds of rebellion and spirituality that have burned throughout my life. He tied our generation to that of the beat poets. He also tied us back to our natural roots and native American heritage. I also went down the alcohol road between 17 and 24 (1968-1973). Although I used to pride myself on looking, thinking, and acting like Jim; I was blessed to not meet his same fate with booze. This marks the third and final volume in my trilogy of tributes (see also my writings on Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.) I was further blessed to have seen them each perform live in the late sixties around Chicago (their spirits are with me still.) I hope that you will find encouragement, enchantment and enlightenment from their lives and legacies as I have over the past 40 years!!
“The word was out on the street that everyone had to see this lead singer because there had never been anything like him with the unnatural grace of someone out of control. He looked like a Greek god gone wrong, with masses of dark brown curls and a face that sweaty dreams are made of. It was really mind-boggling. There was no modern sexy American icon at that time and he instantly became that for me and all the girls I knew and we never missed them. I saw The Doors play a hundred times.” – Pamela Des Barres, author of “I’m With the Band “
This was during the Summer of Love and represent the way to the hearts and minds of America’s “teeny-boppers” and “hippies.” This shows the kind of hype that ended up eating Jim’s mind and soul. But that is later in the story!!
The facts are very simple. So simple that they might mislead you into thinking that the young man whose picture you see on this page is – well, a lot like a lot of other young men. But he isn’t. His full real name is James Douglas Morrison. He was born on December 8, 1943, in Melbourne, Fla.- which is near Cape Kennedy. Jim is six feet tall and has brown hair and haunting blue-grey eyes. After attending Florida State University, he moved to California, where he studied film-making at UCLA. Fortunately, he was side-tracked into the world of music (which had always held great interest for him) and he soon found himself the lead singer of a group called the Doors. …
Jim Morrison is not like any other pop singer to appear on the scene: past, present or future. One word that can describe him is “total”. He is so whole, so complete, so all himself and nobody or nothing else that just meeting him is an unforgettable experience. Hearing him sing and watching him perform- well, that’s really magic! I’ve been lucky enough to have this experience, and I’ll try (mind you, try) to describe just a little bit of what it’s like to you. So close your eyes, open your mind and take my hand while I try to lead you through “Jim Morrison’s magic land”. It begins like this:
At first, everything is serene- blue and green. The lights are low and the stage is empty. Slowly, the boys come out and in the darkness they start to “set up”. You can hardly distinguish which is which. After a minimum amount of tuning up, the house lights suddenly go on. Just as they do, there is a fabulous blast of sound. It’s the Doors- and they are on and it’s unmistakably their music that you hear. Then, seemingly from nowhere, a figure leaps onto the stage. It’s him- Jim Morrison! And you feel something you have never felt before. It’s like an electric shock that goes all through you. Jim is singing and you realize that it’s a combination of him, the way he looks and moves, and his sound that has completely turned you on. His voice is like spirals of flame, and beautiful red and yellow colors seem to fly out of his fingertips.
Come on, baby, light my fire….He is singing it to you and all at once the room around you seems to glow. At first it’s warm, then it’s hot- like something burning, but it doesn’t hurt. You dig it. It’s the fire- the fire that Jim is singing about. The fire that he knows all about and now- suddenly- you do too! You are consumed by his vibrant presence and his sensational singing. He is electric. He is magic. He is all afire. And everything that he is, he is giving to you freely and totally!
Then he is gone. The music continues for a while- echoing through your mind- and the room around you, which you think must have been consumed in the blaze that Jim created in you and all about you, slowly comes back into focus. Soon, all is serene again. It’s blue. And it’s green. And it’s serene. But the gigantic talent of Jim Morrison has changed you- and you will never be the same again.
Vogue was and remains an organ of the establishment. This shows how the world was taking notice of the messages that Jim and Doors were sending out to the world!!
Jim Morrison, the lead singer and songwriter of the Doors, is at twenty-two one of the most shaken-loose, mind shaking and subtle agents of the new music of the new, mysticism-oriented young. His voice, weak on high notes, lacks stamina and belt, but it couldn’t matter less. He gets people. His songs are eerie, loaded with somewhat Freudian symbolism, poetic but not pretty, filled with suggestions of sex, death, transcendence. Part of his swamping magnetism is an elusiveness as if he were singing for himself.
Four young men who met as university students in Los Angeles, the Doors have the California sound. The electronics, the spooking organ tones, the traces of raga and sitar. Disciplined, inventive, strong in their sense of beat and form, they excel at those long, deceptively impromptu “pop songs” that last seven or more minutes. Their Light My Fire took off as a hit. But the Doors play at their best in The End, a song that runs for more than eleven and a half minutes with words by Jim Morrison writing as if Edgar Allan Poe had blown back as a hippie.
This is one of several books that have examined the life and legacy of Jim. I have bought this and at least eight more books on Jim and the Doors. Although I have not read them all, this seems to be new, accurate and well-written. Here is an excerpt.
He’s been dead for decades, but he’s still causing trouble. Jim Morrison was a mesmeric figure in the American sixties, a rebel poet and godhead in snakeskin and leather. He lived fast, died young, and left a less-than-exquisite corpse in Paris while hiding out from the law. In his prime the writers and critics went nuts trying to do his weird mojo some measure of justice. (One called him “an angel in grace and a dog in heat.”) Jim was the greatest American rock star of his era, and one of its most publicized celebrities, but—more than three decades later—his life and works have yet to yield all their secrets and enigmas.
Jim Morrison tried to set the night on fire. As lead singer of the Doors, he was an acid evangelist on a suicide mission to deprogram his generation from what he saw as a prisonlike conformity to social and sexual norms. He was a seer, an adept, a bard, a drunk, a bisexual omnivore. Jim styled his band “erotic politicians,” and relentlessly urged his huge audience—at the height of the dangerous sixties—to break on through the doors of perception, to free themselves from robotic familial conditioning, to seek a higher, more aware consciousness. Doors concerts—throbbing with war-dance rhythms and superheated intimacy—were as close to the experience of shamanic ritual as the rock audience ever got. The Doors captured the unrest and the menace that hung in the air of the late sixties like tear gas, and they did it with hypnotic cool.
Between 1965 and 1971 Jim Morrison wrote a hundred songs, recorded seven platinum albums, wrote and published four editions of poems, made three films, recorded his poetry, wrote screenplays, and filled dozens of notebooks with verse and notations. He played more than two hundred concerts with the Doors. He established himself as a sex icon and the major American rock star of the sixties. He violated all of puritan America’s sexual taboos and—in a frenetic burst of political energy— even threatened the vindictive Nixon administration with his blatant invitations to protest and revolt.
Jim Morrison, as it turns out, was much more important than anyone realized at the time. Critically dismissed as a has-been Bozo/Dionysius before his death, Morrison’s poetic visions have stayed on the radio for more than thirty years, and on into the new century. They have become the classic texts of classic rock, reaching out to generations beyond the one that first understood the deepest meanings, the organic unity, and the transcendent qualities of his greatest work.
Jim Morrison was the last incarnation of that quintessential late- romantic figure, the demonically aroused poet shaking with rage at his world and his contemporaries; a prophet with terrible eyes and rigid features, clad in black leather. He was arguably the major poet to emerge from the turmoil of the legendary American sixties. Decades later, Jim Morrison has materialized as the true avatar of his age. His words are burned into the brains of three American generations—the emergency telegram of “Break On Through,” the visionary cadences of “L.A. Woman,” and the mysterious whispered verses of “Riders on the Storm.” His voice echoes on classic-rock stations from coast to coast. ….
Living the times as he did, in full senses-deregulated consciousness, Jim understood the American sixties for what they were: an era of new religious visions, spiritual crisis, political unrest, race riots, assassinations—as well as a rare opportunity for change and reform. The decade’s promises were never fulfilled, but some of its goals—such as integration, civil rights, the “global village,” and the bringing of East and West into closer harmony—are clearly still in process. Jim Morrison hitchhiked along this psychic landscape like a killer on the road, and the Doors’ music still has the uncanny power to poison every new class of ninth graders with its dark messages and raw power. What thirteen-year-old today can play “People Are Strange” and not hear it as a postcard of comfort from beyond the grave? How many dead rock stars have an annual riot at their tomb?
In one of his unpublished spiral notebooks, sometime in 1968, Jim penned his credo in blue ink: “I contend an abiding sense of irony over all I do.” Jim Morrison’s famous “Lizard King” persona was a joke, but it was a serious joke, a cosmic put-on. Jim’s serial evocation of the American desert and its reptilian underworld was part of his existential drive to include in the experience of life the omnipresence of impending death. In another notebook entry he wrote: “Thinking of death as the climactic point of one’s life.”
No rock singer ever sounded more like he meant it than Jim Morrison. No one else could have released a subversive, antimilitarist song like “The Unknown Soldier,” with its hellacious screams of violence and despair, amid the brutality of the Vietnam War. Alone of his generation, Jim’s power depended not just on the surge of his poetry with the blinding charisma of his amplified performances, but also on the sheer, cussed rebel energy it took to stand up to society and challenge its hypocritical, constipated moral values in a time of dangerous upheaval.
Jim Morrison took the inherent dread of the American sixties and made it even crazier, more desperate. Then he made it into a joke, and Jim’s volatile essence was a rocket destined to burn out. Drugs would destroy the bravest and craziest of the rock stars. “Revelation would turn into delusion.” When his spiritual drive was exhausted, sapped by addiction, dementia, and legal battles, Jim’s body followed soon after. Jim Morrison’s tragic death at twenty-seven in 1971 was the last in the sequence of rock extinctions that began with Jim’s hero Brian Jones (at twenty-seven) in 1969, and continued with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix (both also at twenty-seven) in 1970. The rock movement never recovered. The surviving heroes would carry on, new ones were born (and also would die), but the midnight hour had passed when Jim Morrison flamed out. Those whom the gods love die young.
As lead singer and lyricist for the Doors, Jim Morrison made the most of his short life, inspiring with his truthful writing and relaxed, authentic vocal style. A psychedelic rocker with a poetic soul, Morrison was a connoisseur of things new and offbeat, experimenting with everything from Nietzsche to the bohemian underworld of California. …
Although originally shy in his role as lead vocalist, Morrison emerged as a powerful performer. He went to great lengths to elicit a reaction from his audience, destroying musical equipment and indulging in a variety of drugs and alcohol onstage. After a 1969 Miami arrest for public exposure, Morrison and the Doors took a break from touring and recorded the groundbreaking albums Morrison Hotel and L.A. Woman.
In March of 1971, Morrison moved to Paris, hoping to focus on his writing. Only four months later Jim was found dead in his bathtub, presumably of a heart attack. He was 27 years old. Fans and historians alike have long questioned the details of Morrison’s death. Some believe him to be the victim of a drug overdose, while others blame the CIA. There are even those who speculate that he is alive to this day, living in Africa or the Seychelles Islands.
Jim Morrison was one of the most original lyricists in the history of rock and roll. The poetic imagery that characterized his writing was the perfect complement to the Doors’ eclectic sound. Morrison’s life and music were so closely intertwined that he has become the classic representation of the rebellious desires that define rock.
Jim Morrison had many nicknames. He often referred to himself as “Mr. Mojo Risin’”, an anagram of his legal name, or the “Lizard King” from his epic poem “Celebration of the Lizard”. Above all else, Morrison was a poet. His body is buried in Paris’s famous Pere LaChaise cemetery in the company of many other celebrities. Next to him in the “Poet’s Corner” are buried many celebrated writers, including Balzac, Moliere, and Oscar Wilde.
This is very interesting article from the Alexandria, VA newsletter that coincided with the release of the Doors movie (see below). This features recollections and remembrances by some of Jim’s high school classmates. Even at that early time he was truly the “wild child full of grace – savior of the human race” that he sang about.
Stan Durkee is among those who remember Morrison for his intelligence, his literary brilliance and his enigmatic personality. “Intellectually, Jim was head and shoulders above all the rest of us – he read every book you could imagine,” he said. “He inspired me.” Durkee said he and Morrison used to go to book stores in Washington to look for works of beat generation authors who intrigued him. Durkee remembers being in an English class with Morrison while studying James Joyce’s Ulysses. “Even the teacher was learning from Morrison’s interpretationn of the work.” Durkee said, “We all were … He was sort of an intellectual leader.” However, Durkee said, “Nobody really understood Morrison (as a person). He was detached, creative … Few, if any, people in our class were really close to him.”
Durkee, who gave Morrison a ride to school every morning, said Morrison was alienated from his family as well, “He went for weeks without seeing his parents,” he said. Although Durkee saw Morrison as someone, “who would have become a dramatic person”, he said “it was a shock to everybody that he evloved into ‘a teen idol.'” On the other hand, Durkee was not surprised by accounts of Morrison’s temperamental and sometimes bizarre behavior during his performing years. Once during a class, he said, “Jim got really angry and exploded,” because a teacher questioned his judgement. “In a sense”, Durkee said, “Morrison was rebelling against the ‘smugness’ and ‘mindlessness’ of the late ’50’s. Jim took everything to the max,” Durkee said.
Patricia Madison, who was also in classes with Morrison, described him as hyper, high IQ and weird. She recalls a time in Spanish class when he wrote, “We all eat small dogs” on the blackboard as a sentence to be translated. Madison also remembers an incident when Morrison brought a rotting fish with him on the bus without air conditioning during a hot summer day to elicit a crowd reaction from the other passengers (which of course, he did.) “Morrison would do things we didn’t dare do,” Madison remarked. … Ainsfield said he believes some of Morrison’s acting out in high school was alcohol-related, recalling that Morrison, “liked drinking bourbon.” However, Ainsfield said he does not believe Morrison was involved with drugs at that time.
Memories of Morrison by Jac Holzman
(former president of Electra Records)
Morrison was extremely well read, thoughtful, funny, and an absolute devil. He is the only guy I ever knew who could hit a police car – drunk and without a driver’s license – and get away with it. There was, in him, an inherent boyish innocence not unlike that of Andy Hardy, who hits a baseball through the Parish window and because of an inner glow is forgiven. And Jim’s friends would forgive him most anything. His demons were so near the surface that to call Jim on behavior you would not tolerate in anyone else was to feel you were adding more pressure than he could handle.
I remember sitting with Jim in a bar near the Elektra studios just schmoozing about life and how he wanted to be remembered as a poet – how this rock ‘n’ roll thing had gotten far beyond his ability to control the public’s perception of him. He was acutely uncomfortable, hiding behind unkempt hair, a thick beard and an excess of avoirdupois. With a mischievous snicker he talked about the great joy in life of being “out there – on the very edge”, and suggested that to spend that evening trading drinks with Jim one-on-one might be an appropriate way for me to do some edge testing. Knowing Jim was trying to suck me into something that was only going to lead to trouble, I replied, “Jim, being on the edge is terrific. The trick is not to bleed.” ….
One powerful memory lingers and it is more in my heart than in my mind. On February 15, 1968, the doorbell rang in my Los Angeles home. It was the evening of my son Adam’s tenth birthday. There was Jim, now a star, shifting uncertainly from foot to foot, clutching an erratically wrapped present for my musically inclined son. He came in, sat quietly with Adam, and showed him how to play the kalimba, an African thumb piano. They sat there for an hour, fully absorbed – two children in their own world.
Jim Morrison Quotes Collected and Selected by Me for You
I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments.
I believe in a long, prolonged, derangement of the senses in order to obtain the unknown.
I see myself as a huge fiery comet, a shooting star. Everyone stops, points up and gasps “Oh look at that!” Then- whoosh, and I’m gone…and they’ll never see anything like it ever again… and they won’t be able to forget me ever.
That’s what real love amounts to- letting a person be what he really is. Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending- performing. You get to love your pretence. It’s true, we’re locked in an image, an act.
The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on and individual level. It’s got to happen inside first. You can take away a man’s political freedom and you won’t hurt him- unless you take away his freedom to feel. That can destroy him. That kind of freedom can’t be granted. Nobody can win it for you.
I like people who shake other people up and make them feel uncomfortable.
Each generation wants new symbols, new people, and new names. They want to divorce themselves from their predecessors.
Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself-and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to-letting a person be what he really is.
I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos – especially activity that seems to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road toward freedom. Rather than starting inside, I start outside and reach the mental through the physical.
I think there’s a certain moment when you’re right in time with your audience and then you both grow out of it, and you just have to realize that it’s not that you have outgrown the audience, it’s just that the audience and you both are too old for that. That has to go on something else, and let the younger people do that.
I enjoy drinking. It loosens people up and stimulates conversation. Somehow it’s like gambling; you go out for a night of drinking, and you don’t know where you’ll end up the next morning. It could be good, it could be a disaster. It’s a throw of the dice. The difference between suicide and slow capitulation.
I like any reaction I can get with my music. Just anything to get people to think. I mean if you can get a whole room full of drunk, stoned people to actually wake up and think, you’re doing something.
I offer images — I conjure memories of freedom that can still be reached — like the Doors, right? But we can only open the doors, we can’t drag people through. I can’t free them unless they want to be free. Maybe primitive people have less bullshit to let go of, to give up. A person has to be willing to give up everything — not just wealth. All the bullshit that he’s been taught — all society’s brainwashing. You have to let go of all that to get to the other side. Most people aren’t willing to do that.
If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it’s to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel.
Think of us as erotic politicians.
We are from the West. The world we suggest should be of a new wild West, a sensuous, evil world, strange and haunting. The path of the sun.
When you make peace with authority, you become authority.
Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.
I think that more than writing and music, my greatest talent is that I have an instinctive knack of self-image propagation. I was very good at manipulating publicity with a few little phrases like ‘erotic politicians’. Having grown up with TV and mass magazines, I knew instinctively what people would catch on to, so I dropped those little jewels here and there, seemingly very innocently; of course, I was just calling signals.
I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing of established order. I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road towards freedom – external freedom is a way to bring about internal freedom.
Let’s just say I was testing the bounds of reality. I was curious to see what would happen. That’s all it was: curiosity.
Circus Magazine Interview by Salli Stevenson – October 13, 1970
Time: 4:00 pm / Place: Doors Office, Rear Patio
Just learned that this interview and much more from the same session have been released on DVD – along with lots more great stuff. Check out Amazon for wide array.
JIM: I think that really it was a life style that was on trial more than my specific incident. I guess that what it boiled down to was that I told the audience that they were a bunch of fucking idiots to be members of an audience…you know…what were they doing there anyway? The basic message was…realize that you’re not really here to listen to a bunch of songs by some fairly good musicians. You’re here for something else, and why not admit it and do something about it.
JIM: A hero is someone who rebels, or seems to rebel, against the facts of existence and seems to conquer them, but obviously that can work at moments. It can’t be a lasting thing…but that’s not saying that people shouldn’t keep trying to rebel against the facts of existence…Who knows, someday we might conquer death….and disease and war…
JIM: I think of myself as…a…as an intelligent…sensitive human being with the soul of a clown…which always forces me to blow it at the…a…most important moments.
SALLI: What about the state of America? Where do you think that’s going?
JIM: I can’t decide whether to be a citizen of the world or to identify with a particular country, but I guess you really have no choice. I think that whatever happens, that America is the arena right now. It’s the center of action even with…it will take strong, fluid people to survive in a climate like ours, but I’m sure people will do it.
SALLI: What is the climate, in your concept, right now…in your opinion?
JIM: I think for many people, especially city dwellers, it’s a state of constant total paranoia. The problem is, as I understand it, paranoia is defined as an irrational fear, but what if the paranoia is real? Then you just cope with it second by second.
JIM: Police are different in every town and every country. I guess some of the greatest police, unless you get on the wrong side of them, are the English Bobbies. They seem to be very civil, gentlemanly kind of cats.
JIM: The cops in L.A. are different than in most towns. They are idealists and they’re almost fanatical in believing the rightness of their cause…of their profession. They have a whole philosophy behind their tyranny. Whereas, in most places the police are doing a job, but in L.A. I’ve noticed a real sense of righteousness about what they’re doing, which is kind of scary.
JIM: Well, love is one of the handful of devices we have to avoid the void, so to speak.
THE DOORS MUSIC
Jim was fortunate to have hooked up with three amazing musicians who supported him and even propped him up at the end. There is much written about the Doors and the individual musicians have their own websites which seem wonderful (and don’t forget Wikipedia):
Making use of the latest technology of the late 1960s, The Doors produced a sound that was totally unique and musically ground-breaking. This was due in no small part to Jim Morrison’s lyrics, which were drawn largely from his poetry and writings. Morrison’s songs tackled dark and powerful subjects, such as death, murder and madness, along with the traditional themes of sex and drugs and rock and roll. The Doors’ guitarist, Robb Krieger also contributed on the song writing side, and wrote or co-wrote many of the band’s most famous numbers, including “Touch Me“, “Love Me Two Times” and most importantly, “Light My Fire”.
The Doors were signed to the Elektra record label early in 1967, and began to be noticed shortly afterwards. Their first single release was “Break On Through”, but it was “Light My Fire” that really put them on the map, when it went to Number One in June 1967. Three months later, The Doors were invited to appear on the Ed Sullivan show, a popular Saturday night chat show that had featured celebrities such as The Beatles and Elvis Presley. Morrison caused a furor when he agreed to change the lyrics of “Light My Fire” so as not to implicate drug taking on the show, but then went ahead and sang the original lyrics anyway! The show’s host, Ed Sullivan, was allegedly so incensed that he refused to shake hands with the band after they had performed. In addition, they were never invited back. Jim’s response to this was: So what? We already did The Ed Sullivan Show!”
By the time their second album, Strange Days, was released, The Doors had become a national musical phenomenon, and were one of the most popular rock bands that the world had ever seen. The band’s mixture of styles, which embraced blues and rock with psychedelic was totally novel, and made them irresistible to young rock fans. Their choice of lyrics was as far-reaching as Morrison’s literary tastes, and included “Alabama Song” from the Brecht and Weill operetta, “Rise and Fall of The City of Mahogonny”, which had first been written and performed during the 1930s. The band also created a new genre of song by producing extended concept works, including the famous epic songs, “The End” and “When The Music’s Over”, along with their famous concert piece, “Celebration of The Lizard”.
Another factor which made The Doors hugely popular and innovative was the way Morrison and Manzarek drew upon their background in film (they had both studied film at UCLA) to produce some of the earliest music videos to accompany their music. Morrison and Manzarek produced a film for “Break On Through “, their first single release, which featured the four members of the band playing the song on dimly-lit set, with alternate views and cutaway shots of the performers, with Morrison singing the lyrics. Morrison and Manzarek also made videos to accompany other singles, including “The Unknown Soldier”, “People Are Strange” and “Moonlight Drive”. …
Throughout his musical career, Morrison was as notorious for his rampant sexuality and promiscuity as he was for his drug-taking and rock’n’roll lifestyle. Although he met his life partner and long-term companion, Pamela Courson, long before he became famous, and stayed with her until his death, the couple frequently quarrelled, allegedly on account of Morrison’s infidelity. According to rock legend, the Doors’ singer frequently slept with his female fans and also had many short-lived liaisons with celebrity women, including Nico from The Velvet Underground, Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane and the singer Janis Joplin.
It is not surprising that Jim Morrison was rated relatively lowly as a rock singer. He was really a poet, provocateur, and politician. He was really more comfortable using spoken road to enrage and engage the crowd. Modern day rappers owe a lot to Jim!!
The difference between Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley, Patti Smith says, “is that Elvis had humility. I don’t think Jim had it.” Still, Morrison, who was at least as influenced by Frank Sinatra as he was by Presley, was capable of surprising delicacy: On “People Are Strange” and “Light My Fire,” he lets his baritone glide, crooning just above a whisper. Otherwise, Morrison’s vocals were all mood, attitude and sex — he was grounded in roadhouse-blues hollering, but able to project the dreaminess of a mystical incantation (“Riders on the Storm”) or the sleaze of a boozy pickup (“L.A. Woman”). And on the Doors’ hardest rock songs — “Break On Through (to the Other Side)” stands out — his unhinged aggression presaged punk rock. “It was thrilling, sensual, powerful and experimental,” said Perry Farrell.
The Doors Open Wide
Richard Goldstein, New York Magazine
Their initial album, on Elektra, is a cogent, tense, and powerful excursion. I suggest you buy it, slip it on your phonograph, and travel on the vehicle of your choice. The Doors are slickly, smoothly dissonant. With the schism between folk and rock long since healed, they can leap from pop to poetry without the fear of violating some mysterious sense of form. But this freedom to stretch and shatter boundaries makes pretension as much a part of the new scene as mediocrity was the scourge of the old. It takes a special kind of genius to bridge gaps in form. Their music works because its blues roots are always visible. The Doors are never far from the musical humus of America – rural, gut simplicity.
The most important work on this album is an “extended pop song” called The End. When Dylan broke the three minute mold with Like A Rolling Stone, pop composers realized that the form – follows – function dictum which has always guided folk-rock applies to time as well. A song should take as long as it takes. The End is eleven and one-half minutes of solid song. Its hints of sitar and tabla and its faint aroma of raga counterpoint are balanced by a sturdy blues foundation. Anyone who disputes the concept of rock literature had better listen long and hard to this song. This is Joycean pop, with a stream – of – consciousness lyric in which images are strung together by association. The End builds to a realization of mood rather than a sequence of events. It is also the first pop song in my memory to deal with the Oedipus complex. The End begins with visions of collapsing peace and harmony, and ends with violent death. The entire song revolves around a theme of travel, but this journey is both physical and spiritual. It leads to the brass-tacks fantasy of incest and patricide.
Rock Is Rock: A Discussion of a Doors Song
Paul Williams, Crawdaddy Magazine
The Doors is an album of magnitude. Thanks to the calm surefootedness of the group, the producer, the record company, there are no flaws; The Doors have been delivered to the public full-grown (by current standards) and are still growing (standards change). Gestation may have been long and painful; no one cares. The birth of the group is in this album, and it’s as good as anything in rock. The awesome fact about the Doors is that they will improve.
This album is too good to be “explained,” note by note, song by song; that sort of thing could only be boring, since the sophomoric cognitive “review” must be immediately compared to the far – more – than – mere – communicative level of the work of art itself, the album. Knowing that my reader is able to stop after any word I write and listen to all of Light My Fire before he reads the next word, I should feel pretty foolish offering him a merely textual description of the buildup of erotic pressure in the performance. Is there really any point in saying something like “The instrumental in Light My Fire builds at the end into a truly visual orgasm in sound” when the reader can at any time put the album onto even the crummiest phonograph and experience the orgasm himself?
From “Break On Through” By
James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky
The Doors brought many innovations to rock. They were the first group to introduce the theater song and its derivatives into the realm of popular music. The album was also the first successful synthesis of the spirit of rock and the feeling of jazz. Touches like the cymbal ride intro into Break On Through and the Latin feel to the verses of Take It As It Comes are more jazz than rock. While I Looked At You was basic pop, the inclusion of pure blues such as Willie Dixon and Howling Wolf’s Back Door Man foretold the white blues revival that was to dominate the rock scene for well over a year.
No one can deny the diversity of the musical styles on the first album. There’re blues (Back Door Man), an epic (The End), a European feel (Alabama Song), hard rock (Break On Through), a classical influenced arrangement (Light My Fire), and a couple of pure ballads (End Of The Night and The Crystal Ship). This musical diversity was always a part of the band, but the first album stands as the group’s finest reconciliation of their schizoid musical impulses. ‘If Back Door Man established Morrison’s erotic credentials, Soul Kitchen enhanced them; if the garish California neon of Twentieth Century Fox captured 1967, then The Alabama Song related it to the 1930s. Just as The Crystal Ship described a voyage to unexplored realms, The End completed the trip, and while Light My Fire may have been the first truly gutsy love song, Break On Through was the most deceptive of them all.
The tour de force on the first album is the long, improvised composition, The End, a staggering drama that broadened the thematic scope of rock. The End tells of the impending end of a love affair quite possibly by murder. A cathartic experience, the psychosexual epic ends with patricide and Oedipal love. The song is a theatrical achievement in music; there was nothing in rock to compare to what was done here with one chord in terms of rhythmic and melodic variation backing a complex story line.”
Dr Tom Picks “The Doors” Movie
I have watched “The Doors” starring Val Kilmer as Jim many times – including just a couple days ago. I love this film as much as the others I pay tribute to on this site. I will let the following reviews provide you with my take on the movie (i.e., I selected the ones I agree with. There are more negative ones out there.)
No other rock star ever sang like Jim Morrison. He had a deeply sonorous, almost classical baritone, and when accompanied by the other three Doors, a rhapsodic garage ensemble that sounded like the house band for Satan’s discotheque, he lent a unique, mesmeric clarity to the primordial yearnings of the late ’60s. He was also the first superstar hippie with an aura of pre-counterculture masculinity. There was nothing remotely smiley or reassuring about Morrison. He was like some dark Hollywood prince of the ’40s who’d somehow stumbled into the role of rock demigod. The image of this glamorously disheveled, pornographic Dionysus spoke to the most feverish undercurrents of the counterculture, to the need to push past any and all limits.
As Morrison, Val Kilmer gives a star-making performance. Lolling around in his love beads and black-leather pants, his thick dark mane falling over features that are at once baby-sweet and preternaturally dangerous, Kilmer captures, to an astonishing degree, the hooded, pantherish charisma that made Morrison the most erotically charged pop performer since the early days of Elvis. Morrison, as Kilmer plays him, seems lost in his own space, and his sexual lure springs from this ethereal self-absorption. We can see why he starts boozing it up: The liquor keeps him sealed off — in a strange way, it keeps him pure.
The Doors has some memorable moments (the concert scenes are especially good), and it captures one aspect of the ’60s better than any movie before it: the dark narcissism that allowed a strutting poet-stud like Jim Morrison to feed off his audience. The infamous incident in Miami in which Morrison, drunk, supposedly flashed the crowd, plays here as a consummation of the ’60s, a case of a star trying to tear down every last barrier between his inner and outer selves, and between himself and the audience.
Mostly, though, the film wants to be an intimate portrait of Morrison. And that’s where Stone’s frenzied, one-thing-after-another approach takes its toll. As docudramas go, The Doors is more docu than drama: It simply presents Morrison’s life and dissolution, bottle by bottle, without really giving us a peek into his soul. Stone essentially buys into the star’s myth about himself — that he was a pop-culture shaman who lived to go over the edge. Then the movie undercuts the myth by showing us, in agonizing detail, what the booze did to him.
Love Me Two Times By Gregg Kilday
Published in issue #55 Mar 01, 1991
Becoming Jim Morrison — Behind the scenes of
Oliver Stone’s ”The Doors” starring Val Kilmer
Given all the vested interests — including the three surviving members of the Doors and the group’s fans, old and new — The Doors will undoubtedly trigger passionate arguments. But few are likely to fault Kilmer’s eerily realistic embodiment of Morrison. By the movie’s foregone conclusion, he has effected a bone-deep transformation, playing the singer during his final days as a weary, burnt-out hulk. The performance is bound to elevate the 31-year-old Kilmer out of the ranks of pretty-boy actors into the select company of major leading men.
Morrison’s death — officially listed as a heart attack, but surely linked to his heavy drinking and possible heroin use — brought all such curtains crashing down. Frances Ford Coppola’s use of ”The End” to underscore the opening conflagration of 1979’s Apocalpyse Now, coupled with the 1980 publication of Morrison’s lurid biography (No One Here Gets Out Alive), by his gofer, Danny Sugerman, and journalist Jerry Hopkins, launched a Doors revival that continues to gain momentum. Like another doomed rebel, James Dean, Morrison has been adopted as a kindred spirit by successive waves of yearning kids.
”I think they’re responding to a need for a cause, for a hero, for something that’s a combination of rebellion and art in a very attractive package,” Paul Rothchild, producer of the Doors’ albums, says of the group’s continuing cachet with the young. Kilmer puts it more simply: ”I think death had a lot to do with Morrison’s popularity.”
Over the years, John Travolta, Timothy Hutton, Charlie Sheen, Jason Patric, U2’s Bono and INXS’s Michael Hutchence have all been associated with real or rumored Doors movie projects. Finally, in 1989, Kilmer sat down with Stone to discuss the part. “It was the most interesting meeting I’ve ever been to,” Kilmer says. ”Oliver was like a reporter — very humble, very selfless. He just fired questions at me.”
The movie’s scenes of the band in performance use Kilmer’s vocals almost exclusively. When Doors songs are featured on the soundtrack behind other action, Morrison’s voice is heard. It takes a fine-tuned ear to tell the difference. Kilmer feels that, on some level at least, Morrison was involved. On the set, Kilmer surrounded himself with books by Morrison’s favorite authors — Blake, Rimbaud, Kerouac — and invited the other actors into his trailer to rap during lunch breaks. ”We’d drag the lava lamp out,” he jokes, ”put up the black light posters, eat our pasta, and groove.”
Inhabiting the soul of the self-destructive singer also meant exploring his darker side. ”Morrison hurt a lot of people,” Kilmer says. ”I met a lot of broken spirits.” He and Meg Ryan, who plays Morrison’s longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson (she died of an overdose in 1974), were locked into recreating the couple’s dance of death. … Walking in Morrison’s footsteps also had its eerie moments. ”I’d say to Paul [Rothchild] sometimes, ‘I know what I’m supposed to do, but I don’t like this song. That’s why it sounds so dry. I just don’t like it,”’ Kilmer recalls. ”And nine times out of ten, Paul would come onto the headset and say Jim hated the song too.”
Jim Morrison, the lead singer and lyricist of the Doors, was equal parts poet, provocateur and snake-oil salesman. You might say the same of Oliver Stone, the writer-director (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July) who has turned Morrison’s short life — he died of heart failure in 1971 at the age of twenty-seven — into a film of wretched and splendid excess. You expect in-your-face from Stone and Morrison. Both are products of the turbulent Sixties. The decade jazzed them, molded their sensibilities, taught them that art should be violent and dangerous: Feel it, mock it, even fake it, but keep it larger than life.
The Doors is a thrilling spectacle — the King Kong of rock movies — featuring a starmaking, ball-of-fire performance by Val Kilmer as Morrison. I can’t recall a film that evokes the myth of the Sixties more potently. It’s not all free love, psychedelic drugs and electric blues, either. The cruelty, delusion and self-destruction are included, along with the dopey hippie rhetoric. Stone goes to extremes — the movie is too much of everything — but the eerily alluring music of the Doors helps him capture the dark side of a decade. …
Stone wants to uncover the tragic poet in the pop icon. Morrison’s fatalistic yearnings seem to touch a responsive chord in Stone; the film may provoke charges of morbid glamorization. Lying dead in his Paris bathtub, Morrison has a transcendent smile. But Stone doesn’t pretend to know whether Morrison did break on through to the other side. The movie stops at the grave. But the flashes of brilliance in the film exert a powerful hold. Twenty years after his death, Jim Morrison can still convince an audience that he’s onto something.
This is the most fascinating and deepest picture Jim Morrison has left for others to explore. The idea of having only a short moment to live, the idea of putting all your passion and all your anger into this moment – at the same time being desperately in search for a way to forget, to bear this fate. The life on the edge of death, in a world of beauty and pain – the desperate attempt to squeeze out every feeling just possible from your given moments, before everything is over. Giving away everything, in the light of the insight that you won’t be able to hold tight anything – being delivered to death.
Jim Morrison – Selected Lyrics
You know the day destroys the night,
Night divides the day,
Tried to run, Tried to hide,
Break on through to the other side!
– BREAK ON THROUGH
Oh, tell me where your freedom lies,
The streets are fields that never die.
Deliver me from reasons why
you’d rather cry, I’d rather fly.
– THE CRYSTAL SHIP
We’re getting tired of waiting around.
Waiting around with our heads to the ground.
I hear a very gentle sound.
What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered
and ripped her and bit her.
Stuck here with knives
in the side of the dawn
and tied her with fences
and dragged her down.
I hear a very gentle sound.
With your ear down to the ground…
We want the world and we want it now!
– WHEN THE MUSIC’S OVER
I woke up this morning and got myself a beer.
The future is uncertain and the end is always near.
– ROADHOUSE BLUES
The old get older
And the young get stronger
May take a week
And it may take longer
They got the guns
But we got the numbers
Gonna win, yeah
We’re takin’ over
– FIVE TO ONE
At first flash of Eden,
We race down to the sea.
Standing there on freedom’s shore.
Waiting for the sun.
– WAITING FOR THE SUN
Once I had, a little game
I liked to crawl back into my brain
I think you know the game I mean
I mean the game called ‘go insane’
Now you should try this little game
Just close your eyes forget your name
Forget the world forget the people
And we’ll erect a different steeple
This little game is fun to do
Just close your eyes no way to lose
And I’m right there I’m going too
Release control we’re breaking through.
– THE CELEBRATION OF THE LIZARD
I’ll tell you this:
No eternal reward will forgive us now
for wasting the dawn.
Let me tell you about heartache and the loss of god
Wandering, wandering in hopeless night
Out here in the perimeter there are no stars
Out here we is stoned Immaculate.
– AN AMERICAN PRAYER
DEVELOPMENTS SINCE JIM MORRISON’S DEATH
Rock is Not Dead by Michelle Campbell
The North Atlantic Review. Number 6 1994
Jim Morrison was the lead singer, poet and lyricist for The Doors, a sixties rock band, who died under mysterious circumstances in Paris, July 3, 1971. Some say his death was suicide other say a drug overdose. His death certificate merely reads something like “his heart stopped.” Now, twenty-three years later, he seems to be the guru of a world-wide religion. Since his death his appeal has never stopped, now reaching legendary status. The Doors records sell in the millions and pictures of his face are everywhere. In 1991, The Doors, a major motion picture, was released. December 3, 1993, would have been Morrison’s fiftieth birthday. Friends and fans gathered in Paris to celebrate with poetry readings, films, photographs and memorabilia.
Morrison’s grave in Paris’ Pere Lachaise Cemetery has become a mecca for visitors for all over the world, a spiritual place which inspires journeys. It has been described as the Lourdes of Rock and Roll. Cemetery officials claim Pere Lachaise is the third most visited tourist attraction in Paris, drawing three to four million visitors each year. Morrison’s resting place is by far the most popular grave.
Because of his continuing popularity, he has become a rite of passage for many of today’s youth who often view him as a living person, not as a dead rock star. They read his poetry and listen to his music. When they come to grave, they leave long letters about their lives and what he means to them. Often the notes and graffiti say, “Jim, I Love You,” “Come back for a while, I need you,” or “Thank You for what you have given me.” Even “You are my god” and “Rock god” have been written. Morrison is still living to millions of people.
On July 3, 1991, the twentieth anniversary of his death, so many of his fans came that Pere Lachaise had to be closed. They drank, danced, sang, and finally stormed the gates of his hallowed ground in a futile attempt to reach their hero’s grave. Morrison talked about trying to create Dionysian frenzies at his music concerts, attempting to recreate the deeds of the ancient god of wine and revelry.
Morrison has become a media myth, a hero created by mass communications. If the world is truly a global village, then music is the universal language. I believe Morrison has been deified in two different trinities. The first is with Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin, two other tragic figures in rock and roll history. Each died at the age of twenty-seven with a year of each other, creating a pantheon for rock music. The second if with Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. They are with Morrison, the great icons of American culture, representing stardom at its highest level. All died young and tragically, contributing to their mythical status.
Morrison was a man of formidable intellect, graduating from the prestigious film school at the University of California at Los Angeles. He believed in Shamanism, the belief in a healing priest or witchdoctor who is the mediator for the tribe between the ordinary world and an alternative reality. He claimed such influences as the seventeenth century poet, William Blake, and the nineteenth century French poet Arthur Rimbaud. Blake wrote of cleansing the senses and Rimbaud advocated deranging the senses. Shamans use hallucinogenic techniques and substances to alter their senses and travel to other realities.
The shaman’s job is to pass through an opening or door into another reality on a spiritual quest. Morrison said about the shaman: He was a man who would intoxicate himself… He would put himself into a trance by dancing, whirling around, drinking, taking drugs. Then, he would go on a mental travel and describe his journey to the rest of the tribe. ….
On July 3, it will be three decades since Jim Morrison was found dead under mysterious circumstances in a Paris bathtub and quickly buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery. Today, his grave continues to attract fans from around the world. with officials estimating that well over a million and a half visitors flock to the cemetery each year. The Doors’ website expects that 50,000 fans will come to the Père Lachaise to mark his 30th anniversary.
Photographer Michelle Campbell will be there. She has been focusing on Morrison’s grave and the people who visit it since she first came to this city in 1989. “I started with a documentary project on the sculptures and monuments of the Père Lachaise,” says Michelle, “and I gradually became aware that the scene around Morrison’s grave revealed an important sociological story.”
Indeed Campbell has captured with her pictures what she calls the “Lourdes of rock’n’roll.” “It’s like a holy place. The gravestone is an altar where devotees leave notes, poems, graffiti and all sorts of memorabilia. Some pour wine on his grave in homage… The place is a strange mixture of ancient ritual and myth. His epitaph reads ‘Kat ton daimona eaytoy’ which is ancient Greek for ‘he lived like he had a divine spirit within.’” So who are these pilgrims, aging boomers? Not at all says Campbell. “I see all ages from all countries.” Why do people still come here after 30 years? “The spirit of what Jim Morrison represents is timeless… It’s about being free. Whether back in the summer of love or the year 2001, he still lights people’s fire.”
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Forty years ago, the Doors’ Jim Morrison seduced Hollywood with his wild moves and wilder poetry. On Wednesday, the rock band cemented its legendary status with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek, 68, and guitarist Robby Krieger, 61, showed up minus drummer John Densmore for the dedication of the walk’s 2,325th star.
“Jim always used to say: The West is the best!” Krieger said. “It has been an incredible 40 years, and now I’m back with Ray and we’re still playing, and you know, it may never end.” The band, whose dark sound helped to define the ’60s, is known for such hits as Light My Fire and L.A. Woman. “It is a great honor to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame … a street that Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger and I traipsed up and down, going into bars, asking if they’d hire a rock band,” Densmore said in a statement read by Morrison’s nephew, Dylan Graham.
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) — The Doors last played the Sunset Strip’s Whisky a Go Go on Aug. 21, 1966, and lead singer Jim Morrison’s rebellious, shamanistic shouts burned memories into the audience. The group, whose sound helped define the 1960s, was fired by the famous club that night — Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger. They never played the Whisky again … until now.
On Wednesday night, the rock band’s remaining three members — all gray-haired and in their 60s — hosted a cacophony of events on the Strip to celebrate the group’s 40th anniversary, including a thunderous performance at the Whisky by Manzarek, Krieger and guest musicians. The repertoire included such Doors anthems as L.A. Woman and Light My Fire. …
Hundreds of fans, from parents toting kids to starry-eyed 21-year-olds and aging rockers, were ecstatic at meeting their idols, even without the larger-than-life presence of Morrison, who died of heart failure in 1971 at age 27 after years of hard living. “I miss Jim as a friend. Artistically, he was a great poet,” Manzarek said over the phone. “That’s why we put the band together in the first place, to marry poetry and rock and roll, like the beatniks married poetry and jazz.”
Morrison’s image, of course, will forever remain that of a hip, young voice of a generations. While impossible to know how the ensuing years might have changed that, Krieger, in a phone interview, offered his thoughts. “Jim Morrison was not the kind of guy who would get old gracefully,” Krieger posited. “He would kind of be a mess. I wish he was still here, and I wish we were still making music.”
“You play music as long as you can breathe. When you stop breathing is when you stop playing rock and roll. Rock and roll will never die. It will always be, it will always go down in history.”
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Gov.Charlie Crist is being asked to pardon the late Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, 38 years after he was convicted of exposing himself during a Miami concert. Dave Diamond, a cable TV producer from Dayton, Ohio, wrote to Crist last month asking for the pardon. Diamond said the goal is to remember the Melbourne, Fla., native as an artist, not a rock ‘n’ roll bad boy with a rap sheet.
Crist is an alumnus of Florida State, which Morrison had attended. “Well, given that fact, I’m certainly willing to review it,” said Crist. Morrison was charged days after a concert at Dinner Key Auditorium in Coconut Grove in 1969. He alleged exposed himself and simulated a sex act, which he denied doing. He was acquitted on a felony charge for lewd and lascivious behavior, but was convicted of indecent exposure and profanity.
Many feel the Miami arrest put Morrison and the band in a downward spiral, which led to promoters canceling concerts and earned the band a stream of negative publicity. Diamond and other fans say Morrison wouldn’t have been charged if the same situation occurred today. “We’d just like to see where we get to a point to let Morrison be judged because of the music and poetry and not be judged because of this Miami case,” said Diamond. The hard-living Morrison died of heart failure in a Paris bathtub in 1971, while his case was still on appeal. He was 27. Morrison’s father, retired U.S. Adm. George S. Morrison, 87, who lives in California, said he would support a pardon.
Crist, however, cannot pardon someone by himself. He needs two of the three other members of the Florida Cabinet, which acts as the state clemency board. In addition, there are no procedures for posthumous pardons. In his letter to Crist, Diamond noted the former New York Gov. George Pataki pardoned the late comedian Lenny Bruce on an obscenity conviction. “It’s not about Jim Morrison’s image as the Lizard King or The Doors music. It’s about a citizen of Florida who was convicted in a case where the law was not applied,” said Diamond, 34.
Here are some other interesting and intriguing bits of information.
- Morrison’s headstone has a Greek inscription that reads, “True to his own spirit.”
- A member of Pere Lachaise cemetery staff is permanently on duty beside Jim Morrison’s grave to make sure that it doesn’t get vandalized.
- Jim Morrison and his lifelong partner, Pamela Courson, both died at the age of 27.
- At the time of his death, Morrison had over twenty paternity suits pending against him.
- In 1970, he married rock critic and Science fiction author Patricia Kenealy in a Celtic Pagan hand fasting ceremony, but neither party signed the correct legal papers, so the marriage was null and void.
In 1966 and 1967, Jim Morrison used LSD to take his journeys to what the Surrealists call the frontiers of divine madness. The mystical visions and omens Morrison experienced in this condition were the soul and depth of his lyrics and poems, and many of them were clear and compelling, a montage of symbolic mythological images. Sometimes, what he claimed to have seen was horrible, and he admitted that the blatant terror and nightmarish feelings he experienced could not be captured in words.
There is little doubt that Jim Morrison was on a spiritual quest, with many valid reasons to question and even attack the status quo of his time. But his philosophy allowed his great intellect and wonderful gift for communication to become lost in a sea of anger, confusion and self-abuse. Whatever one can say about surrealism and Morrison’s method toward revelation, the truth is that, through him, surrealism influenced millions of others, and that it ultimately destroyed him.
Within the lexicon of material available on Jim Morrison, there is very little exploration into his spiritual life. We know that he felt those Doors performances which were successful were so because they transcended the concert experience to become a group cleansing and healing ritual. We know that he looked to Shamanism as a model for these ritual experiences. But if we look to his entire body of work, we find some surprising evidence that he possessed a deep well of spiritual and metaphysical knowledge which he employed in his written work, his performance, and indeed his entire life. …
Jim saw the Doors’ concerts as his communal ritual with his tribe, attempting to affect a similar group trance and healing. The healing ritual often includes spinning and circle dancing, as well as piercing screams, and cries which can only be described as “animal sounds,” all designed to drive the sickness from the patient or group. Jim exhibited all these behaviors in performance. His movements often became spasmodic as he circled the microphone stand. [This dance is very similar to a ritual in which the Shaman circles a small tree or other phallic symbol.] …
Shamans, as well as practitioners of other ecstatic religions, also share an intimate connection with a power animal; a “familiar’ or a “totem” animal. This parallels Jim’s obsession with snakes and lizards; obsession being an apt description, as native peoples often carve small stone animals, known as “fetishes,” in the shape of their personal power animal. …
Jim’s shamanic experiences were absolutely valid, but while he chose to use the title, in reality it is far too limiting to encompass the tremendous breadth of spiritual experience and knowledge he employed in his life and work. He displayed true wisdom in his ability to be open to the truth inherent within a source, without blindly acquiescing to any doctrine. This is wisdom which can only be acquired by the genius of a highly evolved human being, and gained through one’s own experience and one’s powers of discernment. Using the basic tools of Shamanism as his format or vehicle, Jim applied the knowledge he gained from his study of metaphysics and Eastern philosophy, and in allowing his approach to evolve, he ultimately moved beyond the confines of tradition, creating a new paradigm which held far more meaning for him, and ultimately for those of us he touched.
Q – What was the greatness you saw in Jim Morrison before the rest of the world saw it?
A – The same greatness that the world now sees. I just saw it then. It’s exactly the same thing. Jim was obviously gifted and obviously gonna be a star, and obviously had brains. The main thing was he had brains. He was very smart and the words were very good, the songs were very good. That was the main thing.
Q – How about the showmanship? He wasn’t as developed as a showman when you first met him.
A – Who cares about the showmanship? Only today do they care about the showmanship. See, that’s today again. Showman? Jim Morrison wasn’t a showman. He was a Shaman. He wasn’t a showman. He was a poet. He jumped around onstage because he was feeling the music. He wasn’t putting on a show. He was getting into the music.
Q – How did you write the music to Jim’s lyrics? Did that come right away?
A – Usually the ideas came very quickly. Some of the songs however did take a long time to evolve. “Moonlight Drive” for instance took awhile to evolve from the initial time Jim sang it to me on the beach, until it was finally recorded. The song went through a few little evolutions. Some of the songs took a long time to come together, but most of ’em were pretty quick. We were all in tune with each other. You have to remember it was the 60’s and people were much more open and spontaneous and excited and happy to be alive. So, when you’re glad to be alive, good ideas come.
Q – It’s been reported that when you visited Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris you said, “Jim is not here.” What did you mean by that?
A – There’s a body there, but that’s not Jim. The energy, the spirit, the intellect, the heart, the soul of Jim Morrison is not there.
Q – You’ve said that Jim resented the fact that he was living the music and the other guys weren’t. What did you do when you weren’t doing the music?
A – Oh, just what normal people do. I had a girlfriend and a house and a Porsche or something, which got stolen, (laughs) I used to go fishing and play racquetball and stuff like that. Just what normal people do. But Jim, on the other hand, didn’t have a house. He would live in a motel or wherever he happened to be that night. He would end up sleeping there. He was always thinking about songs. When he would be alone, he would have a notebook and that’s what he would do. He considered himself, I guess, more into the whole trip than the other three of us were. To be like that, you have to be obsessed. I think there’s a fine line between how much…you know you have to get away from your work a little while.
Q – I was surprised to read that Jim Morrison trashed the house of Ray Manzarek and his wife after they allowed him to live with them. Morrison seems to have gone out of his way to make everybody hate him. I don’t understand that part of his personality, do you?
A – Well, I didn’t either, but, you know, that was part of Jim. That was the clown that always blows it at the worst possible moment. He doesn’t mean to do it, that’s just the way he is, or was. It would’ve been a lot better if he didn’t have that part of him, but on the other hand, that was part of what drove him.
Q – Do you think there’s a group around today that would put up with some of the antics that Jim pulled? Isn’t it all business?
A – Yeah, exactly. That’s the problem. It’s like it’s all for the money. The element of real comaraderie and artists working together is just not there, and that’s why there’s nothing new happening these days. There’s too much money involved.
Q – When The Doors were together, you probably didn’t realize you would become such a classic rock group, because you weren’t around all that long.
A – Yeah, I mean we didn’t consider ourselves to be that big at the time. Jim always wanted to be a huge act like The Beatles. We never considered ourselves anywhere near that. It’s too bad he’s not alive today to see it.
This Doors History site contains a wealth of facts, pix and other related information about Jim Morrison and the Doors. Check out the following few shows I wish I could have been at. I was fortunate to see the Doors play in Chicago during 1968 (at age of 16). I also saw Janis and Jimi.
Thur. Aug. 18, 1966: Whisky A Go-Go – Final Performances
The Doors take the stage and Jim is obviously in another world. By the end of the set he is coherent enough to try and sing and tells the band to play “The End”. Shortly into the song Jim’s mesmerizing bravado quickly entrances the crowd and the club is deadly still with all attention on Jim. He slowly and quietly begins to sing the Oedipal section during one of the song’s breaks. The place is still. Jim is gradually pulling the crowd in and they join in on his trip down the hallway. As Jim gets into the worst of it the band plays harder and louder in an attempt to drown out the extremely obscene lyrics but Jim is screaming with a force that cannot be contained. The band quickly brings the song to an end and jets off the stage. After this X-rated performance The Doors are fired by the irate club owner Phil Tanzini who is absolutely appalled by the song and does not care to hear about the Greek myth of Oedipus Rex.
“He was kinda ahead of his time on certain things, like swearing . . . But those calls kept coming in. ‘When’s that horny motherfucker comin’ in’ the phones were incredible. We never got that many calls before for just a second group.”
Elmer Valentine, Whisky Owner
Sat. Apr. 29, 1967: Earl Warren Showgrounds – Santa Barbara, CA
The Doors perform with The Grateful Dead who have just released their debut album. The two bands make a dynamic duo as forerunners in the music scene with hot new albums and a taste for Owsley’s purple barrell acid which he presents to Jim personally upon their greeting.
Fri. June 9 – Sat. 10, 1967: Fillmore Auditorium – San Francisco (3rd of 5 weekends)
This is the first time The Doors receive top billing here! Jim shows up late and considerably intoxicated, probably a little nervous for their first top billing gig and gets into it a heated exchange with promoter Bill Graham over something or other – probalbly Jim’s obvious intoxication but none the less The Doors take the stage as scheduled. During the show Jim begins to twirl his microphone like a lasso around and around letting it go out a little further over the crowd with each pass. Graham, from behind the audience, sees this and starts rushing through the crowd towards the stage in an attempt to cease Jim, but as he approaches the stage Jim lets the microphone go and it hits the promoter square in the side of the head! After the show Graham clears the dressing room and curses out Morrison on the liability issues and asks Jim if he is out of his fucking mind! Jim promises to be more careful in future performances. It appears as though Jim likes to stir Graham up one way or another and their relationship is one of father-son each testing one another’s personalities and ethos. Between sets the other three members of the band head over to the Avalon Ballroom to check out a hot new female soul singer by the name of Janis.
Sat. July 22, 1967: American Bandstand – ABC Studios, Hollywood CA
The Doors are introduced after Dick Clark asks an audience member what his favorite song is and the reply is ‘The Crystal Ship’. The band comes on and does a lip-synched version of the tune and then Clark does a short interview with the band after which The Doors lip-synch their current hit “Light My Fire”.
Aug. 21, 1967: Sunset Sound Studios – Hollywood, CA
The band is in the studio working on their second album Strange Days. The initial sessions began in early May. This is their first chance back in the studio since. The band is smoking a lot of pot in the studio. Jefferson Airplane, also recording their second album, stops by to see what The Doors are up to and comes in during Horse Latitudes and are astonished. Jim’s attitude in the studio is much more confident. Jim however avoids the sessions until he absolutely has to be there. He shows up as a poetic scholar some days and others as a lunatic drunk. Jim is becoming unpredictable and unreliable skipping out of the studio on breaks and getting hammered. Elektra already has 500,000 advance orders for the band’s second upcoming release Strange Days. Paul Rothchild is once again at the helm now using state of the art 8 track sound. Like “The End” on their first album, “When the Music’s Over” is the highlight of the sessions, also recorded in only two takes. The band also spends time recording the soon to be title track and first single “Strange Days”. The Doors retain publishing from Nipper Music and raise their take to 7.5% of profits in breif negotiations.
JIM, JANIS & JIMI collide in New York
Wed. Mar. 6th or Thu. 7th: Steve Paul’s Scene – NYC
The Scene is well known for having musicians show up and jam with whoever happens to be playing that night. Musicians are engaging in improvisational jams together learning and feeding of one another’s vibe, often late night and after-hours, which Jimi Hendrix particularly takes an interest in whenever he’s in town. He has lately begun to lug around an open-reel Ampex recorder so not to miss the potential magical happenings during one of his long totally improvisational jams. On this night, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin are in the club. Hendrix is on stage jamming with a group of musicians playing drums, bass, and second guitar. Jim, during one of the bluesier jams and heavily intoxicated, jumps up on stage and begins to wail some very obscene lyrics. As the song progresses Jim doesn’t. He soon collapses on the stage grabs Hendrix by the ankles and then clumsily drags himself away knocking a table of drinks over into Janis’s lap! She retaliates “I wouldn’t mind… if he could sing”. Hendrix is not impressed by Jim’s behavior and a little upset. He later, on April 4th, adamantly denies a request by Morrison to join him on stage in Montreal at the Suave Arena.
July 5, 1967: Hollywood Bowl – Los Angeles, CA
The show is touted as the event of the season and everyone who is anyone comes out to see the show. Mick Jagger and Jimmy Miller have dinner with the band at Mu Ling’s Chinese restaurant before the show and are in the audience this night to see the big show. All 18,000 seats are sold out and the stage is tweaked with over 60,000 watts of power. The Doors hire a few additional cameramen to their crew who are filming tonight, one of which turns out to be a young Harrison Ford.
Sept. 6-7, 1967: The Roundhouse – London, England
The Doors do two shows a night selling out all 10,000 seats of the remodeled train station’s 2,500 seat concert hall. Both concerts on Friday are filmed by Granada Television for the British television program “The Doors Are Open.” (Note: The program airs on October 4th and only footage of the 2nd show is used) The concerts go extremely well. Jim is somewhat reserved in his performances but very involved and in good voice, control, and appearance. On the first night: The Doors open for The Jefferson Airplane. These Friday shows are attended by many London music scene artists, such as members of the Rolling Stones and Traffic. Jim is fabulous and sober! On the 2nd night: The Jefferson Airplane opens up for The Doors. Jim would later state that this 2nd show on Saturday night was probably one of the band’s all-time best performances.
Jim Morrison: A ‘Serious’ Poet?
by grantw71 July 12, 2003 7:48 pm
James Douglas Morrison’s poetry was born out of a period of tumultuous social and political change in American and world history. Besides Morrison’s social and political perspective, his verse also speaks with an understanding of the world of literature, especially of the traditions that shaped the poetry of his age. His poetry also expresses his own experiences, thoughts, development, and maturation as a poet–from his musings on film at UCLA in The Lords and The New Creatures, to his final poems in Wilderness and The American Night. …
Morrison’s poetic style is characterized by contrived ambiguity of meaning which serves to express subconscious thought and feeling–a tendency now generally associated with the postmodern or avant garde. His poetic strength is that he creates poetry quite profound in its effect upon the reader, by using vividly evocative words and images in his poems. While it is obvious that Morrison has read writers that influence his work, and their influence remains strong in subject and tone, he still manages to make it his own in the way he adapts these influences to his style, experiences, and ideas. We would expect to find remnants of quotes, stolen lines and ideas, in a lesser writer, but Morrison shows his strength as a poet by resisting plagiarism in order to achieve originality in his own verse. As T. S. Eliot has said, “Bad poets borrow, good poets steal.”
Morrison’s poetry is very surreal at times, as well as highly symbolic–there is a pervading sense of the irrational, chaotic, and the violent; an effect produced by startling juxtapositions of images and words. Morrison’s poetry reveals a strange world–a place peopled by characters straight out of Morrison’s circus of the mind, from the strange streets of Los Angeles boulevards and back alleys. Morrison’s speech is a native tongue, and his eye is that of a visionary American poet. He belongs to what poet and critic Jerome Rothenberg calls the “American Prophecy” present in all that speaks to our sense of ‘identity’ and our need for renewal.”
Rothenberg sees this prophetic tradition as “affirming the oldest function of poetry, which is to interrupt the habits of ordinary consciousness by means of more precise and highly charged uses of language and to provide new tools for discovering the underlying relatedness of all life. … Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitman saw the poet’s function in part as revealing the visionary meaning of our lives in relation to the time and place in which we live. … We have taken this American emphasis on the relationship of myth and history, of poetry and life, as the central meaning of a ‘prophetic’ native tradition.”
Jim Morrison from “The Lords”
There are no longer “dancers”, the possessed.
The cleavage of men into actor and spectators
is the central fact of our time. We are obsessed
with heroes who live for us and whom we punish. …
More or less, we’re all afflicted with the psychology
of the voyeur. Not in a strictly clinical or
criminal sense, but in our whole physical and
emotional stance before the world.
Whenever we seek to break
this spell of passivity, our actions are cruel and
awkward and generally obscene, like an invalid who
has forgotten how to walk.
In the seance, the shaman led. A sensuous panic,
deliberately evoked through drugs, chants, dancing,
hurls the shaman into trance. Changed voice,
convulsive movement. He acts like a madman.
These professional hysterics, chosen precisely for
their psychotic leaning, were once esteemed.
They mediated between man and spirit-world.
Their mental travels formed the crux of
the religious life of the tribe.
Selected from “Paris Journal”
A man searching for lost Paradise
can seem a fool to those
who never sought the other world
Give me songs to sing & emerald dreams
to dream & I’ll give you love unfolding
Selected Poems from “Wilderness”
~The Opening of the Trunk~
-Moment of inner freedom
when the mind is opened & the
infinite universe revealed
& the soul is left to wander
dazed & confus’d searching
here & there for teachers & friends. …
I can make myself invisible or small.
I can become gigantic & reach the
farthest things. I can change
the course of nature.
I can place myself anywhere in
space or time.
I can summon the dead.
I can perceive events on other worlds,
in my deepest inner mind,
& in the minds of others. …
Ceremonies, theatre, dances
To reassert Tribal needs & memories
a call to worship, uniting
above all, a reversion,
a longing for family & the
safety magic of childhood.
Now is blessed the rest remembered
Between childhood, boyhood, adolescence & manhood
there should be sharp lines drawn w/ Tests,
deaths, feats, rites, stories, songs, & judgments …
a place where ghosts
reside to whisper into
the ear of travellers &
interest them in their fate …
My ears assembled music
out of swarming streets
but my mind rebelled
at the idiot’s laughter
The rising frightful idiot laughter
Cheering an army of
vacuum cleaners. …
I have a vision of America
Seen from the air 28,000 ft. & going fast
A one-armed man in a Texas parking labyrinth
A burnt tree like a giant primeval bird
in an empty lot in Fresno
Miles & miles of hotel corridors
& elevators, filled w/ citizens
Motel Money Murder Madness
Change the mood from glad to sadness
play the ghost song baby …
How can we hate or love or judge
in the sea-swarm world of atoms
All one, one All
How can we play or not play
How can we put one foot before us
or revolutionize or write. …
An explosion of birds
Dawn – Sun strokes the walls
An old man leaves the Casino
A young man reading pauses
on the path to the garden. …
The struggle of a poor poet
to stay out of the grips of
novels & gambling & journalism. …
A quality of ignorance, self-deception
may be necessary to the poet’s survival.
Actors must make us think they’re real
Our friends must not make us think we’re acting
Why do I drink? So that I can write poetry.
-What is connection?
-When 2 motions, thought
to be infinite & mutually exclusive,
meet in a moment.