The Ethos of “Cool”: Robert Harrison on Jim Morrison and The Doors

American rock group The Doors, from left to right: Jim Morrison (singer), Ray Manzarek (organist), Robby Krieger (guitarist), and John Densmore (drummer), posed for publicity photos for the album WAITING FOR THE SUN in the Santa Monica Mountains in Santa Monica, California in spring 1968. Photo by Paul Ferrara.
American rock group The Doors, from left to right: Jim Morrison (singer), Ray Manzarek (organist), Robby Krieger (guitarist), and John Densmore (drummer), posed for publicity photos for the album WAITING FOR THE SUN in the Santa Monica Mountains in Santa Monica, California in spring 1968. Photo by Paul Ferrara.
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY ENTITLED OPINIONS AND PUBLISHED BY LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS ON JANUARY 5, 2018.

Fifty years ago, the award-winning album The Doors was released into the world—a landmark debut for what would become L.A.’s biggest band. The Doors and its lead singer Jim Morrison have few champions as articulate and passionate as Entitled Opinions host Robert Pogue Harrison, who interprets the band’s legacy in this podcast.

“The beginning holds sway over the entire unfolding of the story,” he explains, describing how Morrison was “incubating his future on a rooftop,” as he lived for weeks in “a high-perched nest in Venice, California.” He had little more than a blanket, candles, oranges, notebooks, and LSD, which was cheap and legal at the time. He meditated. He filled his notebooks with poems.

Although he’d never studied music, nor played a musical instrument, songs swirled in his head—and eventually “the ghosts became flesh,” says Harrison. Morrison described what happened this way: “I was just taking notes at a fantastic rock concert that was going on inside my head.”

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