WEIRDLAND: Jim Morrison's Poetry and the 1960s Counter-Cultural Movement

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Jim Morrison's Poetry and the 1960s Counter-Cultural Movement

"The Road of Excess": This 1997 documentary contains interviews with friends of the late Jim Morrison as well as several people involved with the making of the film, "The Doors" (1991) directed by Oliver Stone, delving into what Jim Morrison meant to everyone. The film only really touched the surface of what Jim Morrison actually achieved in life and, in a bid to shine light on what was left out of the movie, this documentary takes a closer look at Jim's career. “The Game Called 'Go Insane'”: Pamela was Jim's golden girl... She briefly wondered how long she had been hallucinating. She could almost see herself in his eyes: his blue-grey gaze moving over her face slowly. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered huskily. At that moment, Jim was more magnificent looking than ever, and then need for physical contact was too strong. She reached out to trace his pale features with a childlike sense of wonder, and he smiled. That smile made it all worth it.

The New York that produced the Velvet Underground doesn’t exist anymore. Lillian Roxon (journalist of The Sydney Morning Herald) picked me up in a taxi and dragged me downtown to Danny Fields’s place. It was dark, there were no lights on, but candles filled the room. Edie Sedgwick, his roommate at the time, was sitting in a corner in her bra and panties cutting out pictures from Vogue magazine. Jim Morrison was passed out drunk on the couch. Nico, from the Velvet Underground, was locked in his bedroom. She’d locked herself in as she was convinced that Jim Morrison was after her. “Do not let him in!" she’d scream every few minutes. There was no danger of that. He was comatose. Danny was on the phone with Leonard Cohen, who was looking for Nico. I played a song called “Secrets.” Edie Sedgwick didn’t look up. Jim Morrison didn’t budge. Nico didn’t stop shrieking in German and English. And Danny returned to consoling Leonard Cohen about Nico. Source:

It all comes together, or falls apart, in 'Stoned Immaculate', the LP's most striking passage. Drunk in a dirty room, with a strange woman and his obsessions, he utters, slowly and simply, all it seems he'd ever really wanted to say: "Come 'ere. I love you. Peace on earth. Will you die for me? The end." Looking for once toward life, Jim Morrison says with quiet resolution in 'Lament': "Words got me the wound and will get me well." An American Prayer is shot through with youthful, flawed aspirations, yet whenever it touches its tongue to brilliance (which it does for long, sensuous moments on end), it illuminates the meaning of that loss and what might have been. —Nick Tosches, Rolling Stone, 1979

"Inside The Fire - My Strange Days With The Doors" (2009) by B. Douglas CameronAs an 17 year old from the mid-west he bought a ticket for a Doors show in Chicago, November 3 1968 that forever changed his life. In 1969 Douglas Cameron became a roadie for the band who worked very hard lugging 240 pound amps for gigs in the mid-west and down to Mexico City for $60 per week. According to Cameron, sometimes Morrison "would just hang on the microphone stand because he was absolutely demolished. He was being crucified by his own mind. Jim was the ultimate existentialist. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk about the band so much as he didn't want to talk about anything in the past. The image of the dead albatross hanging around one's neck was a metaphor for Jim's freedom. But he wasn't free because he had an albatross called the Doors hanging around his neck." Source:

I am arguing against Jerry Prochnicky, James Riordan, and Danny Sugerman’s claims about how Jim Morrison uses the imagination to “gain entry into worlds otherwise locked and sealed off.” Riordan and Prochnicky state: "In 1966 and 1967, Jim Morrison used LSD to take his journey. He ventured into the same realms that influenced Blake, Rimbaud and Poe." Prochnicky, Riordan, and Sugerman’s interpretations posit that Morrison’s visions remain within a fixed system of order. What is the difference between the worlds within which Morrison lives as a result of drugs, and the worlds where he lives as a result of his senses? In keeping with Prochnicky, Riordan, and Sugerman’s examination, Morrison cannot be considered free within this world; instead, he is but a guest, living according to someone else’s structures, rules, binaries, and regulations. Morrison does not preach this message within his poetry and lyrics. As we have seen in “The Original Temptation,” “Break on Through,” “An American Prayer,” and in certain elements of “Moonlight Drive” and “Power,” Morrison gains control, not through drugs, but by allowing his imagination to refuse to abide by a fixed and innate system of order that dictates how he perceives reality. Unlike the prototypical ‘hippy,’ Morrison thought astrology was pseudoscience, rejected the concept of the totally integrated personality, and expressed a distaste for vegetarianism. The status quo of the late sixties viewed Morrison as a political revolutionary. However, he never had any such desire – Morrison argued that we should all set ourselves free from our mental prisons. Unlike the practice of Eastern religion and communal living, Morrison’s poetry and lyrics never dictate to his readers or audience members how they should live their lives. —"The Poet Behind the Doors: Jim Morrison's Poetry and the 1960s Counter-Cultural Movement" (2011) by Steven Erkel

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