Remembering Jim Morrison

Photo Credit: Cosmovisión | The Doors Coffe-Shop
Photo Credit: Cosmovisión | The Doors Coffe-Shop

Addled, dressed in black leather, Jimmy Fallon had all the mannerisms down: he swayed as he held onto the microphone stand, head lolling on his shoulders during the instrumental breaks; his eyes alternated between passion and oblivion. He had the vocal style down, too—the semi-croon that could ascend to an alarming shriek. Adding to the effect, the band playing behind him were dead ringers for the dead singer’s lost mates: the Doors, the seminal sixties band fronted by Jim Morrison. But instead of evoking dark psychic worlds, Fallon’s Morrison sang the lyrics from the PBS program Reading Rainbow. He inserted poetry, as Morrison often did, into the song’s instrumental section—but instead of “The Graveyard Poem” or “Horse Latitudes,” he recited from Goodnight Moon and other nuggets of childhood literacy.

Few rock singers made themselves so ripe for parody as James Douglas Morrison, who would have turned an ungodly 70 this week if he hadn’t helped charter rock’s 27 Club in Paris in 1971, where he died from a likely drug overdose. Morrison’s Doors compatriots—the guitarist, Robbie Krieger; the drummer, John Densmore; and the keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, who died earlier this year—were inventive musicians, but no one doubts the source of the group’s enduring fascination. Sixties rock was filled with charismatic front men, from Mick Jagger to Jimi Hendrix, but none could carry Morrison’s water when it came to conveying darkness and danger. Morrison saw himself as a shaman—he believed the soul of a dead Indian had passed into his when he was a child—and he performed often with his eyes closed, apparently trying to summon the muse.

Or maybe he was just having difficulty standing up. Morrison’s energies were slowly drained away by his ruinous alcohol and drug abuse, which worsened over time and transformed an articulate and sensitive soul into a drunken, raving creep who mistreated everyone dear to him and enclosed himself within a fathomless despair. His descent alienated his bandmates and eventually made the Doors unviable on stage—not only because a gonzo Morrison could barely perform, but also because, in 1969, plastered on booze and whatnot, he caused a near riot at a performance in Miami in which he allegedly exposed his genitals. A Florida court convicted him of indecent exposure and profanity, and his appeals were pending when he died (Governor Charlie Crist pardoned Morrison posthumously in 2010). If Morrison the poet/shaman has endured in pop culture, so has Morrison the insurrectionist and drunken lout—the embodiment of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Morrison’s fame during his lifetime pales beside the Cult of Jimbo that sprang up after 1971. His grave in Paris’s Père Lachaise Cemetery has to be guarded to protect against defacement, and for a good while some believed that he hadn’t died but had staged his demise—and would, like Christ, return at an hour of his choosing.

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Retrieved on 19 December 2018 from https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/remembering-jim-morrison/

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