Subversive Rock and Roll: The Doors

The Doors (photo by Joel Brodsky/Elektra Records/
The Doors (photo by Joel Brodsky/Elektra Records/

Jim Morrison was trying to be subversive. Wrecked on acid he gave his audience Oedipus Rex. He felt the generational change in the air and gave voice to it in When the Music’s Over with the line “we want the world and we want it now!” What did Jim Morrison want to subvert? What was the revolution he was looking for?

“I’ve always been attracted to ideas that were about revolt against authority… I like ideas about breaking away or overthrowing of established order — I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning.” Jim Morrison, Elektra Records press kit.

No discussion of The Doors and Jim Morrison is possible without a discussion of shamanism. The shaman is perhaps best known and mischaracterized in Native American culture as the “medicine man.” Shamanism is practiced in many forms in most parts of the world but it does have some common denominators. Music is often used to stimulate a mystical experience in the shaman, as is ritual chanting and dancing. Drugs are frequently used especially hallucinogens to enter the mystical state. The shaman is usually a significant or gifted individual from the society he comes from. During the mystical states the shaman is said to be able to visit the underworld or spirit-world in order to cure the physical ailment of an individual or intervene with the gods on the behalf of the village. The shaman is also aided by “power animals” such as lizards, snakes, lions, bears.

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