Wednesday, April 05, 2017

45th Anniversary of Lou Reed's debut album, Jim Morrison's affinity for rock poetry

Lou Reed‘s self-titled 1972 album found one of rock’s most innovative, uncompromising auteurs striking out on his own for the first time. But even though it kicked off a long, celebrated solo career, it’s always been largely and unjustly ignored. When Reed left the Velvet Underground in August 1970, his prospects were far from promising. Though they earned plenty of critical plaudits, the band he spearheaded for the last five years had never come anywhere near commercial success. 

The relatively radio-friendly feel of Loaded, their last Reed-led album, was the result of pressure to produce some hits. Fed up with it all, Reed split in between the album’s completion and its release. With a legacy of four commercial failures to his name, Reed didn’t exactly emerge as a hot property. Wearied from his Velvets experience and unsure about his next move, Reed ended up moving back to his parents’ house on Long Island and started a relationship with theatre student Bettye Kronstad. Contrary to what might be expected, they became serious just when Reed had vague aspirations of becoming a writer/poet. Bettye found him a kind, gentle, sensitive guy who telephoned her ceaselessly and called her 'Princess.' In fact, the first year she spent with him was living at his parents’ Long Island home. 

The opening track of Reed's debut album, “I Can’t Stand It,” is downright dirty-sounding, arguably harder-hitting and more visceral—if less primal—than the Loaded outtake version that was unearthed years later on the VU collection. Similarly, “Walk and Talk It” is undeniably edgier and more biting than on the Velvets’ 1970 demo. “Lisa Says,” a near-ballad in its Velvets version, gets a bump up in tempo, and Wakeman’s piano and the backing vocals of Helene Francois and Kay Garner actual inject a dash of soul flavor. And instead of amplifying the artiness of the Velvets arrangement for “I Love You,” with its merry-go-round running-down feel, the Reed version adopts a more straightforward (and slightly speedier) feel. 

“Wild Child,” with its lyrical mix of the prosaic and the poetic, has a constantly shifting cast of street characters. It’s not a huge journey from this track to the carefully cultivated noir seediness of “Walk on the Wild Side,” which would see the light of day less than a year later. “Berlin” would appear on a later Reed album too, providing the title track to his 1973 cult-classic song suite. But for whatever reason, the record failed to connect. It staggered its way to the 189 spot on the Billboard album chart, and neither of its singles (“I Can’t Stand It,” “Walk and Talk It”) earned a foothold on either side of the Atlantic. The vagaries of the music business are eternally inscrutable, but more puzzlingly, the album has never really been reassessed by critics either. Fortunately, what Reed achieved on his first solo flight is still there to hear for anyone with ears. Source:

Although the Velvet Underground are sometimes portrayed as existing in near-total-obscurity totally out of the mainstream of 1960s rock culture, in fact they intersected with—and sometimes even influenced—many major shakers and movers between 1965 and 1970: The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger confessed to Nick Kent of NME in June 1977, "Even we've been influenced by the Velvet Underground. I'll tell you exactly what we pinched from Lou Reed. Y'know 'Stray Cat Blues' from the Rolling Stones' 1968 album Beggars Banquet? The whole sound and the way it's paced, we pinched from the first Velvet Underground album." Also when an interviewer asked Keith Richards who he thought among his generation of rockers was still producing solid stuff and had maintained his integrity, Richards said, “Lou Reed,” naming no one else.

Some have speculated that the dress and image of one of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable's dancers, Gerard Malanga, might have influenced Jim Morrison's own appearance. Morrison had seen the Velvet Underground at their first California shows at the Trip in Los Angeles in May 1966. Morrison also attended a couple of the Velvet Undergrond's shows at the Whisky-A-Go-Go in Los Angeles in late October 1968. Morrison and The Velvet's singer Nico had a passionate affair around the summer of 1967. Eye magazine, revealed Danny Fields in 1970, took his suggestion to set up a photo shoot with Nico and Jim Morrison for "a series on beautiful couples... But Morrison refused to do it." Morrison might be wary of angering his volatile core girlfriend, Pamela Courson, with such a public posed picture with another beautiful woman. 

"The VU influenced the Doors?" said Ray Manzarek when interviewed for White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day By Day. "How? Musically? No chance. We were working John Coltrane modal territory. Miles Davis was our influence. Lou Reed influenced Jim? Lyrically? Jim was coming from a point of cosmic consciousness: Carl Jung. Friedrich Nietzsche. Lou was New York street hustler punk. No way. They did have a nice junkie rush, however. I liked that. A punk band before its time. Jim liked Lou Reed's lyrics a lot. Almost like John Rechy in City of Night"—the 1963 novel whose title the Doors would use as a key lyric of their classic "L.A. Woman."

Lou Reed and Jim Morrison had in common an affinity for literary lyrics. Reed, however, didn't seem to appreciate The King Lizard's poetic visions. Maybe there was a personal/professional jealousy, because perhaps at one point Reed may have resented The Doors' commercial success, hit singles and gold albums whereas he had to return home to Long Island to live in his parents' house. Lou Reed on Melody Maker, 1975: "I didn't even feel sorry for him when he died. There was a group of us in New York, and the phone rang and somebody told us that Jim Morrison had just died in a bathtub in Paris. And the immediate response was: 'How fabulous. In a bathtub in Paris. Fantastic.' That lack of compassion doesn't disturb me. He asked for it. I had no compassion for that silly Los Angeles person.'' Lou Reed confirmed his animosity towards Jim Morrison in 2008 saying: "I worked with my father [an accountant] and he was not very generous. During a moment of weakness I nurtured the idea of becoming a professional journalist. I remember that I was commissioned to write a praise of Jim Morrison. So far!, I thought. Morrison believed he was a sex god, but he would not have survived a night at the Factory."

Jim Morrison looked like more of a prototypical rock star whereas Lou Reed seemed more unassuming, atypical in a way. Although both rock legends wouldn't never be officially introduced, they shared key personalities in their respective careers, as the publicist Danny Fields — Elektra Records' Vice President Steve Harris invited Morrison and Fields to a party at Fifth Avenue with 54th St. but Morrison didn't want Fields in the scene and asked Harris to eject him because The Doors' lead singer thought Fields was using him and riding on his coattails; or the glacial Nico — both Reed and Morrison had a tempestuous relationship with her. Nico would say of Reed 'he was very soft and lovely, not aggressive at all. You could just cuddle him like a sweet person. I used to make pancakes for him.' Morrison was 'the best sex inside her ever,' though, she'd confess to her biographer Richard Witts.

Jim Morrison was a sex idol, and all over the country women vied for his attention. But only Pamela Courson possessed the intelligence, beauty, and allure to keep Jim coming back. Mary Werbelow had been Jim’s longest romantic relationship prior to Pamela. On December 9, 1967, Jim was arrested onstage during a performance in New Haven Connecticut: it was not the first, nor the last, in a series of bizarre encounters with the law. His friend Babe Hill said: "Maybe Jim had a Jesus Christ complex. He definitely didn’t love another woman anywhere near as much as Pam. He had a lot of other girlfriends and he treated them so gentlemanly that some of them invented or assumed things, but, no, there was no one but Pam, and history bears it out: he was with her from the beginning to the end." Sexuality-wise, Jim Morrison had a reputation for wild trysts whereas Lou Reed was much more subdued. Actually, both were more shy and lonely than their appearances would convey at first sight. 

Although Howard Sounes pushes the standard Lou Reed narrative of the substance-addled artist who slapped women and pulled knives on bandmates, a spirited Reed defense among fans and intimates opposed to this “Mommie Dearest” invective. Mental illness, Mr. Sounes says, was always a factor in Reed’s erratic behavior. His longtime wife and manager, Sylvia Reed (now Ramos), broke her media silence to dispute Mr. Sounes’s portrait. Coverage like that, Ms. Ramos said, describes a very different man from the one she was with for 18 years. “I was with him all those years,” she said. “I saw him through not only the intense cycle of drinking and drugs, but through nine lawsuits, which were extremely stressful, and his financial condition when I met him was terrible. No matter how hard it got, I never had that behavior from him,” Ms. Ramos said: “That’s not a person I recognize.” Many damning anecdotes, she added, seem to come from people Reed knew in the hazy drug-fueled 1970s “that I know for a fact were not capable of remembering anything they did in any given six-month period during that time, much less come back all these years later.’ She added that “he was never physically aggressive with me.” Ms. Ramos also disputed the idea that Reed was mentally ill. “He saw things differently,” she said. “He was a creative genius.” While Reed and she had discussed his undergoing shock therapy as a youth because of depression, Ms. Ramos added: “In the years that I lived and worked with him, he had no diagnosis of severe mental illness, no hospitalizations, he was always working." “Lou was a prince and a fighter,” Laurie Anderson (Lou Reed's widow) wrote. Source:

Monday, April 03, 2017

Sexual Stimuli: Neuroimaging, Jim Morrison

New neuroimaging research has found that gay, bisexual, and straight men have different brain responses to sexual stimuli. In particular, the researchers uncovered that heterosexual and homosexual men showed different neural responses to erotic stimuli in the ventral striatum, an area of the brain associated with erotic desire. As expected, heterosexual men showed greater ventral striatum responses to erotic stimuli of women and homosexual men showed greater ventral striatum responses to erotic stimuli of men. Bisexual men did not show strongly different responses to erotic images of women and men, proving that bisexual men are indeed different from gay and straight men in their capacity to respond to both sexes. Most individuals identify as heterosexual, 2% of the US population reported identifying as homosexual, 2-4% of the US population reported identifying as bisexual. The study was published February 1, 2017, in Scientific Reports. Source:

Jim Morrison was the first rock and roll method actor who would wrap myths around him like a long leather coat, protecting and disguising himself in the process. In September 1965 Morrison met an eighteen-year-old redhead called Pamela Courson. Morrison's family were conventional, middle-class Republicans, with traditional patriarchal values. Pamela was ‘looking for something meaningful to do’. In Jim Morrison she found it. The couple fell in love, soon becoming inseparable, and their relationship continued right up until his death. It was a perversely normal relationship – sexual but platonic too. "Sex is full of lies," Morrison once said: "Sex can be a liberation. But it can also be an entrapment. Our society places a supreme value on control. We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict."

Jim Morrison would usually wait for women to approach him. He wasn’t particularly choosy, and would often slip away from a party with women who wouldn’t normally be considered to be in his league. He tried to placate his 'cosmic mate' Pamela with endless expensive presents, by letting her go shopping in his chauffeured limousine, and even bought her a clothes boutique. She tried to cope  by initiating her own affairs (one of these revenge flings was with Morrison's friend Paul Ferrara). Andy Warhol, in his memoir POPism, remembered: ‘Jim would stand at the bar drinking screwdrivers all night long, and he’d get really far gone.’ Warhol also pinpointed part of Morrison’s appeal: ‘The girls were only interested in the guys that didn’t go after them. I saw a lot of girls pass on Warren Beatty, who was so good looking, just because they knew he wanted to fuck them, and they’d go looking for somebody who looked like he didn’t want to, who had problems.’ Warhol had wanted to film "I, A Man" with Jim Morrison and Nico both naked, but Morrison sent Tom Baker on his behalf. Morrison didn't attend any photoshoot with Nico not to incur Pamela's wrath. Tom Baker had dated Pamela before she met Morrison. Baker and Morrison would came to blows after their arrest in Phoenix.

Janet Erwin, a friend of journalist and former Morrison's lover Patricia Kennealy, remembers an occasion when Morrison was cluelessly hit on by a 'poor schlub' who didn't realize Morrison was "one of the most robustly and notoriously heterosexual men on the planet, the goddam Warren Beatty of rock." Mick Farren wrote about Morrison's myth in The Black Leather Jacket (2007) as: ‘the kind of ancient fertility religions ensured their followers’ survival and prosperity by choosing a monarch (young, cute and virile), who would be sacrificed by cute young females after seven years or some other mystic period. Morrison proposed himself as his generation’s sacrificial lamb: ‘We are obsessed with heroes who live for us and whom we punish.’ As Farren pointed out, this wasn’t merely a bleak observation: it was Morrison’s career goal.  Dressed in his martyr’s garb, he was ready to be lauded, victimised, and immortalised. 

Jim Morrison would grow to hate this self-conscious image – it was only studied perversity, after all. ‘The Jim Morrison thing started out as an act, but so many people believed it, that he became that,’ said Danny Fields: ‘They returned to him what they saw, and he started acting out their fantasy. It was all a pose, and he became his own invention. He knew he had a kind of dangerous, menacing sexuality that women went berserk over – and he used that to cover up.’ But Morrison knew he was only a puppet of the crowd; the audiences weren’t interested in his literary allegories, they wanted him to make a spectacle of himself. The drink, the drugs and the endless supply of women were the consolation prize for knowing he could never really win. Being a star meant he had two career options open to him: he could burn out, or he could die. Steve Harris (Vice President of Elektra Records) said, ‘It was assumed Jim would go his own way. The Doors' members left him alone because they knew he was their meal ticket. He wrote 80 per cent of the material, he was the lead singer, the focal point.’

"Jim was referred to as the 'King of Orgasmic Rock' back then but I saw him differently. I was a 21 year old soon-to-be graduate student at the University of Miami (I was just finishing my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology). I met Jim at the courthouse in Miami, he was there for his pre-trial hearing and was sitting on a bench with Babe Hill. We talked for a few moments, and he suddenly asked me: “has anyone ever told you that you have beautiful eyes?” What an ice-breaker! I gave him my phone number. He called; I was living in an apartment building in Coral Gables and invited him and Babe to dinner: my specialty was duckling l’orange with wild rice! I knew this little place in Coconut Grove that was a bar/pool hall – we went with Babe and one of my female friends from the apartment complex. Jim did drink there - not excessively - and I remember him being very, very mellow. We shot pool and Jim actually sat at the piano improvising. After that we went back to the Carillon on Miami Beach and spent the rest of the evening. I was lucky to know James Douglas Morrison The Poet – Here was a man with a ’bad boy’ reputation ready to go on trial for indecency, and we were reading poetry to each other. He gave me his book “An American Prayer.” He wanted to know how I felt about it.  I do remember telling him that I was good friends with Carl and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys when I was in high school. Jim said that he really loved the Beach Boys’ music! I will always remember Jim as a kind, sweet, considerate, sensitive, confident, very talented and fascinating person." Deanna Michaelson in "Jim Morrison: An Hour for Magic" (1996) by Frank Lisciandro

Oscillating compulsively between 'the brute' and 'the baby' positions, Jim Morrison sometimes debased himself in company of groupies and lovers as Judy Huddleston or Sherry (a Pasadena girl who aspired to become a writer and allegedly had a tangled relationship with Jimbo). According to Judy, Morrison was bipolar and suffered partial meltdowns during their sexcapades; Sherry's personal retrospective in 1972 for Esquire: “He wanted dirty talk from me, it excited him. He wanted me to cry. He wanted mostly to be the passive one. He was mostly impotent. Most of the time with me he never had an orgasm, he gave up. A few times he acted as though he did but I sensed it was an act. I never had a full response and it would drive him wild, he thought I was holding out on purpose… His oscillation between the brute and the baby. A lot of roughing up, then the sudden collapse, whimpering: ‘I need somebody to love me, please take care of me, please don’t leave me.’ Eva Gardonyi was a Hungarian artist who remembers her affair with Jim Morrison (from late 1970 to March 1971) in the chapter 'This Affair of Ours' from "Jim Morrison: Friends Gathered Together": "A couple of times when he was drinking heavily he had a hard time getting it up, but I had a very satisfactory love life with him. Black underwear and garter belts did the trick. Pamela had a couple of real bad acid trips that left her kind of unbalanced early on and Jim was always aware of that tender line of Pamela’s mind. Somehow he just needed to take care of her. Actually it was quite touching."

"She was a princess, Queen of the Highway. No one could save her, save the blind tiger. He was a monster, black dressed in leather. She was a princess. Queen of the Highway. Now they are wedded, she is a good girl. Naked as children out in a meadow. Naked as children, wild as can be. Soon to have offspring, start it all over. American boy. American girl. Most beautiful people in the world! Dancing through the midnight whirl-pool, formless. Hope it can continue a little while longer." "Queen Of The Highway" ("Morrison Hotel" album by The Doors, 1970)

Saturday, April 01, 2017

50th Anniversary: The Velvet Underground and The Doors albums (Lou Reed & Jim Morrison)

50th Anniversary of "The Velvet Underground & Nico" album (1967): If The Velvet Underground & Nico taught us anything, it’s that perfection in rock and roll is actually the inverse of perfection. There are no golden ratios to be found in Sterling Morrison’s spiraling guitar work on “Heroin”, no sublime sense of symmetry to glean from John Cale’s noisy electric viola on “Venus in Furs”. To a classically trained ear, a song like “Run Run Run” is a disaster masquerading as pop music. Lou Reed’s lead guitar lurches left and right with drunken imprecision, Moe Tucker’s drums play hide-and-seek, and producer Andy Warhol refuses to step in and color the scene with even the slightest hint of professionalism. It’s chaotic and also, 50 years after its initial release, widely considered to be one of the greatest rock and roll albums of all time. Lou Reed reminded me of Dylan with his rhythmic style, but he had this solemn, effortless swagger that was really cool. "My God is rock'n'roll," said Reed: "The most important part of my religion is to play guitar."  Source:

Lou Reed began suffering panic attacks and after a mental breakdown following his first semester at NYU, his parents submitted him for electroshock therapy. “Panic attacks and social phobias beset him,” wrote Lou Reed’s sister in 2015: “He possessed a fragile temperament. His hyper-focus on the things he liked led him to music and it was there that he found himself.” Reed’s love of music became his guide, and rock ‘n’ roll became his voice. He landed work as a pop songwriter, churning out middling hits for Pickwick Records while composing songs for himself on the side. “I studied classical piano, and the minute I could play something I started writing new things,” Reed said in 2004. “And I switched to guitar and did the same thing. And the nice thing about rock is, besides the fact that I was in love with it, anyone can play that. And to this day anyone can play a Lou Reed song. Anybody. It’s the same essential chords, just various ways of looking at them.” “Sunday Morning” is a beautiful ode to paranoia (“Watch out—the world’s behind you”), and an early indicator that Reed was capable of remarkably simple melodicism that rivaled the more mainstream songwriters of the era while not directly emulating any of them. With the benefit of hindsight, the most mythologized album of 1967, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, looks more like a relic of the Summer of Love and an exercise in pretentious pomposity. Conversely, The Velvet Underground and Nico looks more like the future of rock music. Glam, punk, noise rock, art rock, college rock—it all seemed to draw from The Velvet Underground and Nico. There has never been a rock album more ahead of its time. In many ways, the world is still catching up to it. Source:

50th Anniversary of "The Doors" (1967) album: In a contemporary review for Crawdaddy! magazine, Paul Williams hailed The Doors debut album as "an album of magnitude" while likening the band to Brian Wilson and the Rolling Stones as creators of "modern music", with which "contemporary 'jazz' and 'classical' composers must try to measure up". Williams added: "The awesome fact about the Doors is that they will improve." Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic in his column for Esquire and later he would say: "Jimbo reminds us that some assholes actually do live with demons. His three sidemen rocked almost as good as the Stones. Without him they were nothing." The Doors has since been frequently ranked by critics as one of the greatest albums of all time. In 2003, Parke Puterbaugh of Rolling Stone called the record "the L.A. foursome's most successful marriage of rock poetics with classically tempered hard rock — a stoned, immaculate classic." Sean Egan of BBC Music opined, "The eponymous debut of The Doors took popular music into areas previously thought impossible: the incitement to expand one's consciousness of opener 'Break on Through' was just the beginning of its incendiary agenda." The Doors is ranked number 42 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It is ranked number 75 on Q magazine's "100 Greatest Albums Ever" and ranked number 226 in NME magazine's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time." In 2007, Rolling Stone ranked it number 1 on their list of the 40 essential albums of 1967. 

Lester Bangs suggested in "The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll" (1976)  that “Light My Fire” paved the way for “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones (an argument Greil Marcus picked up in his book "The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years" in 2013). Jim Morrison was ranked #1 of the Greatest Rock & Roll Rebels list in Rolling Stone, 2013. "Jim Morrison probably got the closest to being an artist within rock and roll. He was also desperate," said Patti Smith in 1977: "His death made me sadder than anyone's." The Doors released two more albums after Morrison's death before disbanding. Jim Morrison became a cult figure, celebrated for his excesses as much as his work, to Robby Krieger’s dismay. Krieger takes exception to Morrison’s depiction in Oliver Stone’s film “The Doors,” saying: “It just made him out to be a total ass.” 

"Let's just say I was testing the bounds of reality. That's all. I was curious. I kind of always preferred to be hated. I go out on stage and howl for people. In me, they see exactly what they want to see. Some say Lizard King, whatever that means. Or some black-clad leather demon, whatever that means." —Jim Morrison in "The Doors" (1991) directed by Oliver Stone

Thursday, March 30, 2017

'Damage & Joy,' Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison

The Jesus & Mary Chain have addressed a lyric from their new album that includes the line: “I killed Kurt Cobain/I put the shot right through his brain”. The Scottish shoegaze veterans are currently gearing up to release their first album in 18 years with ‘Damage & Joy.‘ The album’s twelfth track ‘Simian Split’ includes the Cobain lyric, with Pitchfork asking the band’s Jim Reid if it was a call-back to their 1992 song ‘Reverence’ in which he sings: “I wanna die just like JFK”. Reid explained: “It’s fiction. It’s total fiction. It’s not meant to be taken too seriously. It’s just a work of fiction, and people shouldn’t get too het up about it.” Meanwhile, Reid recently spoke to NME about the state of modern guitar music. He argued that in the time that the group has been away, rock and guitar music has seen a sharp decline. “There’s not much of guitar music left at the moment, I don’t hear many guitar bands out there,” the frontman told NME. “It’s kinda pushed underground, guitar music seems to be limping at the moment.” Source:

The 1990’s was a great decade to grow up in. Music was a huge pivot point for society, with the 80s punk movement morphing into grunge. Grunge became the voice for the ’90s young people, bringing socially conscious issues into popular culture. One of the biggest bands of the era was Nirvana. Kurt Cobain was what many would call a tortured soul. He was unusually negatively affected by his fame and popularity as lead guitarist and vocalist of Nirvana. Often hailed as “the spokesman of Generation X”, Cobain was uncomfortable with the label as he believed his message and vision was misinterpreted. Nirvana has sold over 25 million albums in the US alone, and over 75 million globally. However, this massive success had profound effects on Cobain, who struggled to reconcile it with his underground roots. The frontman developed a resentment toward people who claimed to be fans of the band and yet misinterpreted, or refused to acknowledge, the core social and political views of Nirvana. Source:

It could be argued that without Jim Morrison you don’t get Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, or going down another line, Kurt Cobain. I can’t say I agree with Lester Bangs’ quaint notion that there ain’t NO SALVATION without rock and roll, and I’d bet Jim Morrison didn’t either. I couldn’t really tell you whether rock & roll has ever needed anything as ridiculous as a king, or if kings especially need rock and roll, but if there ever was an approximate, I would hafto insist on Jimbo as the goddamn King of Rock and Roll.  ―"Best Goddamn L.A. King: Jim Morrison" (2003) by Richard Meltzer

Jim Morrison: "A bad photograph can give you several moments of real psychic loss. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People seek tyrants. They worship and support them. They co-operate with restrictions and rules, and they become enchanted with the violence involved in their brief, token rebellion. They love their chains. They forget all about who they really are. And if you try to remind them, they hate you for it, they feel like you're trying to steal their most precious possession. The LA cops are almost fanatical in believing the rightfulness of their cause. They have a whole philosophy behind their tyranny. Religion is like philosophy, what you devote most of your time to. It might be a woman. It might be money. It might be literature. I think religion is what you think about the most. Philosophy doesn't interest me as much as it used to. I finally was forced to realize that no one in the world really knows about what's going on. Poetry is the ultimate art form, because what defines us as human beings is language. And so I appreciate philosophy these days from the standpoint of poetry, the use of one word next to another word next to another word. So, philosophy is semantics, I guess."

Frank Lisciandro: Jim Morrison was an alcoholic, but not a 'drug addict'. He might have used LSD, and even abused it, but he used it to search for something, not to escape. He lived his life with a calm, unhurried simplicity. He read novels, pulp fiction, scientific journals, history, philosophy, psychology. Alcoholics suffer from their disease. Do we say that people who have cancer or heart disease destroy themselves? No! We acknowledge that the disease destroys them. The myth of the tortured artist is a literary conceit. I don't know how Jim died, but I think that his death must have been an careless accident. Or the culmination of a life of alcoholism. 

-I'm not especially fond of Ray Manzarek, but he had a point when he told Rolling Stone magazine: "we can't let the fascists joke about the Sixties and the counter culture." Too much was at stake. My generation, Jim's generation, we stopped a war, but we took casualties. He fled to avoid being another one. I can understand that. Mike Jahn in "Jim Morrison & The Doors"  (1969)

-Frank Lisciandro: Jim dedicated his books of poetry to Pamela who was his companion, lover, muse and friend. She encouraged him to write and publish his poems, and in many ways she was the most important figure in his life. Pamela was beautiful, intelligent, creative and as wild and willful as Jim was. They made a perfect pair. I think they loved each other as only very strong hearts can love. I can say that when Jim talked about her, it was always in praise of her. Jim was very supportive of her. There was a consistency to their relationship that far, far transcended any other relationship that Jim had with any other woman. Jim’s appreciation of the Living Theater led to his over-the-top behavior in Miami. Another possible contributing factor was an argument. Jim and Pam were going to Jamaica right after the Miami concert, but, at the last minute, they had an argument and Pam decided not to go, and Jim missed his airplane to Miami. Then, in order to get to Miami close to the starting time of the concert, he had to take a series of connecting flights. And he was drinking the whole way there.

“Jim was a humanist because he accepted people and believed that all human beings deserved to be treated with dignity. He was a direct, no bullshit dude and hated being lied to, conned or exploited. By the time he left for Paris in March of 1971, the friends he could depend on numbered less than ten. Jim was a performer and he would get up on stage and weave a spell for you. I didn’t see him as that leather-clad heartthrob icon that other people did. Jim was more Rimbaud than Mick Jagger. He was just a tremendously likeable person to be around.” Source:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Nietzschean Influence of Jim Morrison

'Those who envy or culminate great men hate God, for there is no other God.‘ ―"The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"  (1793) by William Blake 

Although Jim Morrison‘s work displays a strong Nietzschean influence, his early explorations with sensory perception relate more specifically to William Blake and Aldous Huxley. Jim Morrison eagerly joined the pursuit for personal freedom in the Nietzschean fashion accepting both the rewards and the sacrifices. Through the process of misprision, Morrison accepts the role of poet which allows him to reinvent Nietzsche. In his poem 'The Opening of the Trunk,' Morrison reflects this idea: "Moment of inner freedom/ when the mind is opened and the infinite universe revealed/ the soul is left to wander." In order to set himself apart from his precursors, Morrison‘s work often contains an aspect of fear and revulsion. Morrison was no stranger to experimenting with mind-altering drugs like marijuana and LSD and found himself drawn to Aldous Huxley‘s essay 'The Doors of Perception.' In Morrison‘s view, everyone designs an alternate life for themselves in their mind which sometimes conflicts with their life in the real world. In "The Lords and the New Creatures" (1971) he states: "Drugs are a bet with your mind/ Where I can construct a universe/ within the skull, to rival the real." 

Jim Morrison writes: "I drink so I can talk to assholes/This includes me." Morrison‘s experimentation left him with an expanded consciousness yet increased his anxiety about life. In keeping with his darker thoughts, Morrison writes: "Films are collections of dead pictures which are/ given artificial insemination." Morrison describes the moment he accepted the task of creating: "Those first six songs I wrote, I was just taking notes at a fantastic rock concert that was going on inside my head. I just got out of college and I went down to the beach…I was free for the first time… It was a beautiful hot summer, and I just started hearing songs… This kind of mythic concert… I‘d like to reproduce what I heard on the beach that day." In 'The American Night" he remembers: "One summer night, going/ To the pier, I ran into/ two young girls. The blonde was called Freedom,/ the dark one, Enterprise./ We talked and they told me this story." Another version of that poem alludes to Nietzsche as he concludes with the lines  "At night the moon became/ a woman‘s face./ I met the Spirit of Music." 

The terror celebrated in Morrison‘s work goes beyond the Nietzschean acceptance of life‘s suffering. Morrison‘s familiarity with the poetry of Blake, as well as Rimbaud and Baudelaire, encouraged his attraction to darker themes. Although many of the nihilistic thoughts echo those of Nietzsche, Morrison‘s fondness for absurdist texts instills in him a preference for nonsense rather than rationality, telling a generation starved for love that 'music is your only friend.‘ Morrison sees no point in trying to combat nihilism. His work suggests that the absurdity of the world enhances man‘s sensory perception and allows the world to be whatever can be created in the mind. Morrison confronts conflicting feelings of remaining in the comfortable role of the spectator or assuming the unpredictable role of the actor—a problem he will ponder often during his career. Morrison recognizes "self-deception may be/ necessary to the poet‘s survival." Morrison‘s self-doubt extends beyond his abilities as a writer to his abilities as performer as well. 'The Discourse of the Sublime and the Inadequacy of Presentation' essay contends that an interest in the alliance between the mind and imagination challenged traditional views on aesthetics and in turn redefined the boundaries of disproportion, obscurity and monster-like appearances.  Morrison‘s poem 'Crossroads' depicts his perception of this process while showing his proclivity for darker images: "Meeting you at your parent‘s gate/ We will tell you what to do/ What you have to do to survive/ Leave the rotten towns/ of your father/ Leave the poisoned wells and bloodstained streets/ Enter now the sweet forest."

Jim Morrison summarizes his philosophy as he writes in 'The American Night': "We have assembled inside this ancient/ & insane theater/ To propagate our lust for life/ and flee the swarming wisdom of the streets." Both Nietzsche and Morrison believe in the destructive condition of the creative process. Morrison uses elements of Dionysian myth in his poetry to describe his own creative experiences: "Running, I saw a Satan/ or Satyr, moving beside/ me, a fleshy shadow/ of my secret mind. Running, Knowing. As the body is ravaged/ The spirit grows stronger./ Forgive me Father for I know/ I want to hear the last Poem/ of the last Poet." Morrison‘s lonely trip takes him to places that even he cannot endure: "I had a splitting headache/ from which the future‘s made." Following a long tradition of strong poets, Morrison uses Nietzschean themes to rewrite/reinvent Nietzsche and develop a philosophy of willful absurdity. ―"The Nietzschean Influence of Jim Morrison" (2008) thesis by Megan Michelle Stypinski 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bob Dylan's "Triplicate", Jim Morrison and Lou Reed (Rock & Roll Masculine Mystique)

Triplicate (planned to be released by Columbia Records on March 31, 2017) marks Bob Dylan’s 38th studio album to date following 2016’s Fallen Angels. Triplicate sees the Nobel laureate covering 30 American standards by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Charles Strouse, Lee Adams, Harold Hupfield, and Cy Coleman & Carolyn Leigh. All three discs of Triplicate are presented in a thematically-arranged 10-song sequence. "Rock and roll was indeed an extension of what was going on – the big swinging bands – Ray Noble, Will Bradley, Glenn Miller, I listened to that music before I heard Elvis Presley. But rock and roll was high energy, explosive and cut down," says Dylan: "It was skeleton music, came out of the darkness... Rock and roll was a dangerous weapon, chrome plated, it exploded like the speed of light, it reflected the times, especially the presence of the atomic bomb which had preceded it. Back then people feared the end of time. The big showdown between capitalism and communism was on the horizon. Rock and roll made you oblivious to the fear, busted down the barriers that race and religion, ideologies, put up. We lived under a death cloud; the air was radioactive. There was no tomorrow, any day it could all be over." 

Here’s Dylan on whether he picks vocal approaches like an actor playing a role: “An actor playing a role? Like who? Scatman Crothers? George C. Scott? Steve McQueen? It would probably be more like a method actor, whatever a method actor is. Remembrance of things past, I do that all the time.” Asked if he was a fan of the tragic singer Amy Winehouse, Dylan says, "Yeah, absolutely. She was the last real individualist around." Source:

-There are stories of Jim Morrison being courted by the Hollywood industry, but he torpedoed any chance of that by alienating producers, directors, agents and actors with a cocky attitude... 

-Frank Lisciandro: I just didn’t see that type of behavior from Jim in these situations. Jim was much more passive than actively hostile to people. So rather than become abusive or cop an attitude, he’d get drunk and screw it up that way, ducking out of situations that frustrated him. The fact is that 90% of what I hear about Jim Morrison strikes me as being absolutely wrong. And the ultimate irony is how that type of spin has impacted his own life story and turned it upside down to the degree that it’s nearly impossible to find any truth…I think he would be amazed at what has been said about him over the years. He was more interested in whether the media was beginning to control the thought patterns of society in some horrible ways. His main concern was that the media should not have control over our lives, that was the strongest political statement he ever made.

-Jim's stage persona was the character he played. He was acting a part. Maybe it was insecurity that forced him to become someone else. Maybe some people might find it strange that Jim was a huge Elvis and Beach Boys fan, but Jim heard something in their music that he enjoyed. At parties, he would want people to put on either Elvis or the Beach Boys. Jim really, really loved the Beach Boys. I remember this one time we were driving around and Dylan’s song “And Dogs Run Free” from his album “New Morning”, came on. And it was funny that this amazingly abstract, jazzy song with almost spoken poetry was on the radio. I remember Jim smiling and saying, “Only Dylan could get that played on the radio”. Jim was honoring Dylan’s power as an artist that he could make something so out of the mainstream and still get it played on a rock station. Source:

Lester Bangs wrote this defense of Jim Morrison back in 1981 for Creem Magazine, reminding people of the indelible mark Morrison had made on rock ‘n’ roll and the reach of his influence: Jim Morrison was really the end of the Masculine Mystique as celebrated American culture up to and through rock ‘n’ roll; he was a master of the sly inflectional turn, so that his every utterance, no matter how repetitious, rolled out oozing irony and sanity. A strategy scripted from day one to ultimately reveal that all rock stars were huge oafus cartoons. Jim understands the single kernel of no mind koan-truth that eluded both philosophers and poets (including Patti Smith) over the centuries: that our attempts to rationalize death are beautifully, lovingly funny. Jim was hip to the comedy implicit in romantic obsessor: “I pressed her thigh and death smiled… We could plan a murder or start a religion.” The Beatnik poets gave birth to Jim Morrison, a giant resplendent in the conviction that clowning is ultimately sexy.

Lou Reed enjoyed a solo career renaissance primarily by passing himself off as the most burnt-out reprobate around (and it wasn't all show by a long shot). People kept expecting him to die, so he perversely came back, not to haunt them, but to clean up. The central heroic myth of the sixties was the burnout. Lou Reed was necessary because he had the good sense to realize that the whole concept of sleaze, of decadence, degeneracy, was a joke and he turned himself into a clown. A large part of Lou's mythic appeal has always been his total infantilism. Like Jim Morrison, Lou Reed realized the implicity absurdity of the rock 'n' roll b├Ęte-noire badass pose and parodied it, deglamorized it. Lou Reed, like all the heroes, is there for the beating up. They wouldn't be heroes if they were infallible, they wouldn't be heroes if they weren't miserable wretched dogs, the pariahs of the earth.  –"Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung" (2013) by Lester Bangs

Thursday, March 23, 2017

American Gods, Labyrinth, Fantasy Movies

American Gods is an American television series created by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green for Starz, based on the novel by author Neil Gaiman. Its premise is what if all the ancient gods were still around and waging a war against the new gods of technology and media? The series focuses on Shadow Moon, a man who is just released after serving three years in prison. Shadow meets a man named Wednesday, who offers Shadow a job. Wednesday appears to be a con artist but is in fact the god Odin. Wednesday is making his way across America, gathering all the old gods, who have now incorporated themselves into American life, to confront the New Gods, including Media and Technology, who grow stronger. Left feeling like he is looking at the world from the bottom of a well, Shadow must literally walk his heroes' path back to a time where he even resembles sanity.

American Gods is a Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel by English author Neil Gaiman. The plot is a blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology, all centering on the mysterious and taciturn protagonist Shadow. A special tenth anniversary edition, with the author's preferred text and including an additional 12000 words, was published in June 2011.

American Gods premieres on Starz on April 30. Gillian Anderson assumes in American Gods the role of the shape-shifting god, Media, the “new Goddess” of television, that’s to say a Goddess who’s been engendered by contemporary collective American desires. As opposed to the Old Gods, engendered by religion and myth, the new Gods are a result of a new form of religiousness: the cult to celebrities. 

Media takes the form of assorted icons: David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe, etc. In Labyrinth (1986), a musical fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, produced by George Lucas, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) initiates a coming of age fantastic journey in search of Jareth, the Goblin King (David Bowie). Sarah is much like The Neverending Story's Bastian and Return To Oz's Dorothy in this respect. Her character has echoes of Alice in Wonderland's Alice, and Snow White, too. She's a romantic soul who prefers books, stories and her imagination to the real world. Sarah's route to adulthood is a convoluted trek through a magical world where normal logic doesn't apply. Critic Bruce Bailey admired the film's script, stating in The Montreal Gazette: "Terry Jones has drawn on his dry wit and bizarre imagination and come up with a script that transforms these essentially familiar elements and plot structures into something that fairly throbs with new life."

Bailey was also impressed by the film's depth, writing, "adults will have the additional advantage of appreciating the story as a coming-of-age parable." Bowie's music fits the story perfectly: the breezy ‘Magic Dance’, the darkly romantic ‘As the World Falls Down’, the celebratory ‘Underground’ and the menacing ‘Within You’, which is performed during a striking scene inspired by MC Escher’s lithograph print ‘Relativity.’ Combining the puppetry magic of director and legendary creator of The Muppets Jim Henson with the concept design of fantasy illustrator Brian Froud (who previously worked with Henson on The Dark Crystal), Labyrinth is a gorgeous demonstration of ‘old school’ special effects that rely on matte paintings, puppetry and other in-camera visual effects in contrast to modern CGI effects. There is a tangibility to the film that makes its dream logic inspired sequences and playful manipulation of perception even more impressive. As a regular follower of free fantasy movies online, you'll always find free time to stream a delighttul escapist movie, and you can count on 1movies to indulge your fantasies.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"Desolation Row", Jim Morrison's "The End", Vietnam, 'Apocalypse Now', 'Kong Skull Island'

Jim Morrison "Desolation Row" video  Soundtrack: "Desolation Row" by Bob Dylan (from his album Highway 61 Revisited, 1965)  and "Love me Two Times" by The Doors (from their second studio album Strange Days, 1967), sung by Jim Morrison. The lyrics of "Love me Two Times" (Love me two times, I'm goin' away) were about a soldier on his last day with his girlfriend before shipping out to war (Vietnam).

Skull Island has made the decision to set its action in the very closing days of the Vietnam war, and in the aftermath of Richard Nixon’s 1973 televised speech ending US involvement in the country. Brie Larson plays anti-war photojournalist Mason Weaver. Bill Randa (John Goodman), a member of the shadowy Monarch organisation, attempts to exploit the soldiers still stationed overseas - specifically a unit led by Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) - to act as escort to his expeditionary team, including Mason Weaver and Tom Hiddleston’s ex-SAS man. An undiscovered island has emerged in the advent of satellite imagery, shrouded in a perpetual storm and wrapped in several centuries of myth. Everyone who crosses paths here immediately greets each other with the synopsis take on their personal feelings towards American actions in Vietnam; as Packard tells an anti-war Mason, “the camera’s way more dangerous than the gun… we didn’t lose the war, we abandoned it”. “Sometimes an enemy doesn’t appear until you create one,” is uttered at one point. You get it? Kind of like in Vietnam? Source:

“Kong: Skull Island” is more consistent and well-developed in its pursuit of the idea that the obsessive American quest for victory in Vietnam can only lead to disaster. Packard’s decision that he will kill Kong as a way of proving American valor and beating the Vietnamese by proxy ultimately leads him into serious strategic miscalculations and moral errors. In a nice moment that undercuts action hero tropes, Cole (Shea Whigham) tries to sacrifice himself to save his fellow soldiers: His efforts end up rather dramatically for naught. And Randa, who was willing to bomb another country and another people to prove his intellectual theories, meets an appropriately grisly end. Source:

Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film Apocalypse Now begins with “The End” and ends with it, too. A smattering of lyrics along the way seem to capture the nightmare atmosphere of the American War in Vietnam. “It just started out as a simple goodbye song,” James Douglas Morrison told reporter Jerry Hopkins. “Probably just to a girl, but I could see how it could be goodbye to a kind of childhood...” Morrison's father, George Morrison, commanded the U.S. Naval fleet during the August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, an event that precipitated an escalation of the American War in Vietnam. Forged in the fading afterglow of World War II, America’s plans to save a backward people were elaborate indeed. To Washington, the Vietnamese seemed to be “Desperately in need of some stranger’s hand In a desperate land...” America’s moral superiority, its ingenuity, its technological know-how, were unstoppable; the fall of those Southeast Asian dominos would be arrested, and communism would be stopped. The lyrics of The End presaged: “It hurts to set you free, But you’ll never follow me, The end of laughter and soft lies, The end of nights we tried to die.”

America’s grand plans later revealed themselves to be bankrupt. Bombing millions into slums and refugee camps didn’t necessarily mean those people would follow you. Soft lies mouthed by the military at 5 p.m. each evening were no substitute for actual victories. Laughter and glad-handing and talk of easy triumph were repeatedly blown apart. By the time it was all over, by the time the end had come, the entire American effort had hemorrhaged and bled out in a million hamlets across South Vietnam. Jim Morrison recorded “The End” in 1966, when the American project in Vietnam still had life in it. Unlike his father, who passed away in 2008, he never saw the end of the Vietnam War. He died in France — the country whose war in Vietnam the Americans had bankrolled and then taken over — in 1971. In a 1969 interview, Jim Morrison said that he was once approached by an attractive young woman “on leave” from UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. She said “The End” was a favorite of the kids in her ward. Source:

While Jim Morrison rejected the type of radical political freedom associated with mass politics and the New Left, his focus on personal politics mirrored the consciousness-raising methods pioneered by second-wave feminism. The band took an unequivocal stance against the Vietnam War. The 1968 song “The Unknown Soldier” uses the war to address the core themes of fear and personal liberation. The song begins with a subdued tone; Morrison takes the role of a narrator oppressed by the conflict. After the eponymous Unknown Soldier is “executed” in a dramatic martial interlude: “Make a grave for the unknown soldier / Nestled in your hollow shoulder,” the dramatic confrontation with fear and pain—the death of the “unknown”—leads the listener to a climax of ecstatic release. While the Doors took a stance against the Vietnam War and in favor of personal liberation, Morrison was critical of some of the more “revolutionary” modes of sixties political activism and was deeply ambivalent about politics, focused more on personal expression. Source:

Jim Morrison: "I think that for any generation to assert itself, it has to break with the past, so obviously the kids that are coming along next are going to create their own unique sound [punk, grunge]. Things like wars and monetary cycles get involved, too. Rock and roll probably could be explained by... it was after the Korean War was ended... and there was a psychic purge. There seemed to be a need for an underground explosion, like an eruption. So maybe after the Vietnam War is over — it'll probably take a couple of years maybe; it's hard to say — but it's possible that the deaths will end and there will again be a need for a life force to express itself, to assert itself." —Interview by Jerry Hopkins (Rolling Stone magazine, July 26, 1969)

Being in bed with Jim was like being in bed with Michelangelo’s David, only with blue eyes. He knew in his worst blackouts to put my diaphragm in and take my contact lenses out. His skin was so white, his muscles were so pure, he was so innocent. He used to suggest, “Let’s go to Ships and eat blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup.“ My friend Judy Raphael, who went to film school, remembers Jim as this pudgy guy with a marine haircut who worked in the library at UCLA. Like everyone back then, Jim hated his parents, hated home, hated it all. If he could have gotten away with it, Jim would have been an orphan. Jim, who’d lost thirty pounds in one summer (the summer of ’65, from taking drugs instead of eating, and hanging out on the Venice boardwalk), tried lying about not having parents, creating his life anew. My sister Mirandi never thought Jim was that cute, but then my sister was one of Pamela’s friends, and it was in her best interest to ignore Jim, even though, for a month, my sister and her boyfriend lived with Jim and Pamela, and it was almost impossible. “He was always a very dark presence in a room,” Mirandi said, “I’d say it was of a person who was severely depressed. Clinically depressed.” And she's a psychologist.

Pamela looked sunny and sweet and cute – she had freckles and red hair and the greenest eyes and just the country girl glow. So it was hard to believe her purse was stuffed with Thorazine. She wore mauve eyeshadow, soft expensive suede boots, and large shawls. My sister Mirandi and Pamela had to fight to persuade Jim to leave his hair long, because left to his own devices he’d get it cut preppy-short and break everyone’s heart. Pamela had control over Jim in real life. And he made his audiences suffer for that. The night I was in the bungalow of Ahmet Ertegun, it was February 9, 1971, the night of the Apollo 14 moon landing commanded by Alan Shepard.

Jim was guzzling Scotch and looking sullen, but he carefully took in Ahmet Ertegun's gossip about the Rolling Stones, now signed to his label. Jim rose to his feet and bellowed, “You think you’re going to win, don’t you?! Well, you're not going to win. We’re going to win, us – the artists. Not you capitalist pigs!” You could have heard a pin drop in this roomful of Ahmet’s fashionable upscale friends. Everybody was silent except the moon landing reporter on the TV, until I stood up and heard myself say, “But Ahmet is an artist, Jim!” The people who were there refused to remember what had happened; they shrugged. “You know,” Jim said, staring straight into my eyes, “I’ve always loved you.” It was one of those tricky nights when Ahmet was trying to make up his mind whether he was going to seduce Jim away from Elektra Records. Ahmet had lured Mick Jagger away from his label the year before. The last time I saw Jim with no shirt on, at a party up in Coldwater, his body was so ravaged by scars, toxins and puffy pudginess, that I wanted to kill him. Underneath his mask, Jim was dead. But then, by 1971, who wasn’t? Eve Babitz for Esquire Magazine, March 1991

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Malick's Song to Song, Paean to Classic Rockers

Terrence Malick’s paean to indie rock: Beyond the rock‘n’roll window dressing, Song to Song turns out to be just another minor variation on Malick’s favorite theme—the power of love and spirituality to transcend the life-poisoning curses of ambition and greed. Malick fans will surely go into Song to Song longing to see him channel the almost religious quality of those live music performances. He soundtracks his obligatory shots of nature’s majesty with gorgeous songs that run the gamut from classical to classic rock. Malick’s great obsession is earthly transcendence. He frames Patti Smith and Iggy Pop as sages. In their own, sui generis ways, Patti Smith and Iggy Pop were both hungry, young strivers once. At the same time, he implies that Faye and BV can only lead fulfilling lives once they shift their focus from their careers to each other. What if making music—or any kind of art—can be both an act of love and act of ambition? Source:

On July 5, 1968, Mick Jagger flew into LAX with his girlfriend Marianne Faithfull and Jimmy Miller, the Stones’ producer. Mick showed up at the Doors’ office, and asked where Jim Morrison was. January Jansen picked up the ringing pay phone near Room 32 of the Alta Cienega Motel across the street. Jim was lying on the bed, looking at the TV with the sound off. Jansen: “The office called. They were in a panic. ‘Jagger’s here! He’s coming across the street!’ I said, ‘Jim, uh, Mick Jagger’s across the street. He’s coming over.’ Jim said, ‘That’s all right.’ “There was a knock on the door, very faint. Jim nodded and I opened the door. Jagger said, ‘Hullo, I’m Mick.’ If Jagger, who lived in an elegant house in London’s Chester Square, showed any qualms about Jim’s frugal motel digs, he hid it well. Jagger probably looked around and thought: ‘what’s with this poverty hole?’ The two rock stars had never met before. Jagger had been famous three years longer. Jim stood up and shook Mick’s hand, then retired to the bed, resting for the evening’s Hollywood Bowl show. Mick asked Jim if he meditated before a show. Jim looked at Mick as if he were insane. “Meditate? No, man. (sarcastically) We leave that up to John and Robby.”

–I knew Lou Reed in the 1980's and early 1990's. He was a straight up no-nonsense person by then. His word was solid and he was easy going. As an recording artist Reed was second to none, he had a complete vision of the end results and knew how construct songs and run sessions in a genius way. Lou disliked Mick Jagger; he once told me, "Street Fighting Man, what a joke, that little twerp's no street fighter." He liked Keith Richards, though. He also would say Sgt. Pepper and The Beatles were "bad Broadway" and not rock 'n' roll... I know how caustic he was about Jim Morrison's death in Melody Maker, 1975. Reed's humor was quite cynical but he was a straight up person who was rarely aloof to crew; he was patient and generous. His favorite singer was Dion and enjoyed and listened to many of the covers other bands recorded of his tunes. Source:

Tony Funches (The Interview, 2005): Jim Morrison was a helluva nice guy! He was a student of Voltaire. Much of that Sex God image was contrived by some marketing idiot and Jim went along because they babbled that it was good for the band and record sales. He was just a regular guy trying to be a decent person and suffering from his own genius at what the world and government would become. All that has happened since he left us and he saw it all coming. He was NOT pleased to have that vision. He was like Ray Milland in the film “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” in that sense: The inexorable march of fascism, the long range futility of Flower Power, the graying of the hippies into coupon clipping yuppies turning their backs on the ideals of the movement.  And what he saw saddened him: vapid lemmings racing to sea in order to ‘be like everyone else.’ "I can kind of envision one person with a lot of tapes and electronics set up, singing or speaking while using machines,” Morrison eerily hypothesized in 1969, prognosticating a future filled with Pro-Tools and Auto-Tune.

Ron Alan: "Jim Morrison treated girls fine. He didn’t mistreat them. He was very sweet and fun. One night he came up to my house and sat down at the bar and a girl came right up and talked to him and she wasn’t a good looking girl. But he was so nice to her. And girls would ask silly questions, half the time he just would sit patiently, like, 'Get your thoughts together and then talk to me.' He’d joke around, but never mean in a way that would turn these girls off." Morrison took his public image tongue-in cheek, keeping it for show and comparing it to that of a villian in a Western movie. The Miami Herald coverage was a good example of the media exploiting and manipulating Morrison. In retrospect, what was at stake was freedom of speech and expression, accuracy of press coverage, Morrison’s right to a fair trial, and issues concerning authenticity, perception, and representation. –"Jim Morrison: Friends Gathered Together" (2014) by Frank Lisciandro

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sexual Frequency, Kings & Groupies of Rock

Declines in Sexual Frequency among American Adults, 1989–2014: It’s not clear why sexual activity is down. The study points to some possible culprits, like a decline in happiness in people over 30. American adults had sex about nine fewer times per year in the early 2010s compared to the late 1990s in data from the nationally representative General Social Survey. Sexual frequency declined among the partnered (married or living together) but stayed steady among the unpartnered, reducing the marital/partnered advantage for sexual frequency. Declines in sexual frequency were similar across gender, race, region, educational level, and work status. In analyses separating the effects of age, time period, and cohort, the decline was primarily due to birth cohort/generation. With age and time period controlled, those born in the 1930s (Silent generation) had sex the most often, whereas those born in the 1990s (Millennials and iGen) had sex the least often. The decline was not linked to longer working hours or increased pornography use. Age had a strong effect on sexual frequency: Americans in their 20s had sex an average of about 80 times per year, compared to about 20 times per year for those in their 60s. The results suggest that Americans are having sex less frequently due to two primary factors: An increasing number of individuals without a steady or marital partner and a decline in sexual frequency among those with partners. Source:

Half a century after Pamela Des Barres’s heyday, free love has been replaced with Tinder and the musicians who prowled the Strip are now denizens of classic rock radio. It’s a strange and often scary world. “It’s a dream era that’s never going to come again,” says 'Queen of the Groupies' Des Barres: "In the 60s we were in the throes of a very important revolution, spiritually, emotionally, psychically, sexually—every kind of way. I wanted to express myself along with all these people I admired so much. Part of that, being a groupie, was standing out. I made a lot of my clothes. The outfit I had on one of my times with Jim Morrison, I had on a striped bell-bottom set with a matching little bag that I made. The next time I saw him, I had on a vintage purple velvet ‘30s dress that I had cut off into a mini. Des Barres remembers "making out passionately" with Morrison, spread out on top of her and thinking, "this is the most beautiful man I have ever seen. He was so gorgeous, everything about him was just perfect." It was a different time. All of a sudden women could express themselves sexually, freely. Much more than now. It was a time when we felt, ‘Okay, we’re really coming into our own here.’ Taking the birth control pill out in public and being proud of owning our femalehood. But that’s really fucked up right now. Source:

Jim Morrison's image was so iconic it was even copied by Elvis Presley. Bill Belew fashioned a black leather costume for the King, almost entirely based on Morrison's. It not only resurrected Presley's career, but also reestablished him as a sex symbol. The comeback of The King of Rock in 1968 was inspired by The Lizard King. Feeling trapped inside a badly scripted movie, Morrison, the tormented hedonist, found it easy to wander from scene to scene with scant regard for reality. Pamela Des Barres, the notorious rock groupie with whom Morrison had a less-than-torrid affair in 1967, spoke of a quiet man who read her poetry, with an occasional temper. They enjoyed walking along the shore, going to parties, taking drugs, but mostly just necking.

Jim Morrison "wasn't as promiscuous as people say he was," Danny Fields remembers: "I don't think he loved to fuck around. He was sort of passively promiscuous. He didn't go out with the specific intention of picking girls up and he certainly didn't order people to get him girls. His life was a series of rather long relationships and always had his woman somewhere. He was so sexy... but I think he found it uncomfortable to be adored by men."  -"Mr Mojo: A Biography of Jim Morrison" (2015) by Dylan Jones