Blender just named Jim Morrison the 10th worst lyricist of all time, which is patently absurd. People love to mock Jim because he was a sloppy drunk and wanted to be a poet. OK, he was a sloppy drunk, but aiming high(poetry) is no reason to mock someone and it’s gone on for far too long.
Hello, I Love You – The Doors
“The music is your only friend”
Elvis was my first real exposure to music, and if I remember correctly it all came about from Henry Winkler doing his best to get through Heartbreak Hotel on Happy Days. In sixth grade, my teacher played a game of name that tune with our class. She played Hound Dog and everyone wrote down Elvis Presley. He’d just died and it was as close to a gimme as you were likely to get anywhere on the planet. I, however, was incensed because I’d heard Hound Dog maybe 1800 times and no way was that really Elvis. I nagged my teacher for about three hours before she dug into her bag and admitted that she’d pawned off an impersonation on the class. She could have told me that the German’s won both World Wars and I couldn’t have cared less. Pawning off some hack as Elvis was a serious issue.
Beyond, that I really wasn’t that interested in pop music until about 15, when the big Doors revival happened. For those of you, who weren’t around Rolling Stone had him on the cover with the proclamation “He’s Hot, He’s Sexy, He’s Dead.” I remember sitting around at my caddy job with my friend John, both of us reading identical paperback copies of No One Here Gets Out Alive. Face it; whether you think he was a genius or a buffoon, tabloids have a tough time making up better stuff than any random page of that book.
Tons of my musical education came from The Rolling Stone Record Guide. I remember laughing to myself when the second edition came out. In the first edition, just about every original Doors album is given four or five stars. By the time the second edition came out, I’m pretty sure Dave Marsh had had enough of the whole Morrison boom. He docked every single album 2 stars and called them the most overrated band ever.
Here’s my impression a bunch of years later. Dude had a remarkably sexy voice, Robbie Krieger was a fantastic guitarist, Ray Manzerek needs to stop feasting off Morrison’s carcass and get a day job, and John Densmore probably should’ve skipped that episode of Square Pegs.
Their first two albums, Morrison Hotel, and LA Woman hold up as good as any American band’s work ever. Morrison was a lot like Elvis. He was either God or Bozo, it just depends on how fat he was when the picture was taken. By the way, I tried to make myself a copy of Morrison’s trademark bead necklace, played basketball in it and watched in horror as the cord broke and hundreds of beads scattered across the court.
By the way, if “sidewalk crouches at her feet like a dog that begs for something sweet” isn’t poetry I don’t want to know what is.
Roadhouse Blues – The Doors
I tell you this, man, I tell you this
I don’t know what’s gonna happen, man, but I wanna have
my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames
Here’s something sure to piss off everyone that isn’t Oliver Stone. To me Morrison is just about the only credible white male blues singer I’ve ever heard.
By the way, if “Woke up this morning got myself a beer, the future’s uncertain the end is always near” isn’t poetry …
Moonlight Drive – The Doors
Let’s swim to the moon, uh huh
Let’s climb through the tide
Penetrate the evening that the
City sleeps to hide
Ray Manzerek was convinced instantly, best financial decision he’s ever made, and he’s still telling that story. It’s how he stays something of a rock star.
True enough to Morrison’s obsession with death the song that started the band has its couple driving out to get stoned and drown themselves. My guess is that to Morrison that was his idea of the perfect date.
Oliver Stone’s movie might not have been accurate, but I’ve always thought of it as essentially the most romantic version of the story a Doors fan could possibly stage. Maybe Martin Scorcese will make the version where Jim is just a drunken ass for two hours, I’d rather get stoned and see the Stone version. Perhaps, showing him as young and beautiful again in his moment of death was going overboard, but the scene a few minutes earlier, where the drunken bearded and fat Morrison passes out holding a doll version of the 1967 pin up idol is perfect. If nothing else, you have to admit that Jim has to be the scariest person ever to appear in Tiger Beat Magazine or whatever they had back then. I wonder what magazine that didn’t cover crime has the most reprehensible cast of characters. The Rock Magazines have their debauchery, but they really can’t match the Sports Magazines for dangerous illegal behavior.
Light My Fire – The Doors
One of the cooler moments in Rock history was Morrison refusing to knuckle under to Ed Sullivan and change the lyric “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” like the Stones who gave in and sang the feeble Let’s Spend Some Time Together at Ed’s request. Nevertheless, Oliver Stone shouldn’t have felt the need to over dramatize. Morrison didn’t walk up to the camera and spew the line out with fury like Val Kilmer does in the movie. Morrison just sang it like he normally did. From what I know of the guy, he probably never even considered Sullivan’s request and had forgotten about it long before the show filmed.
Riders on the Storm – The Doors
Go ahead and make fun of Jim Morrison for his drunken foolishness, but at least get it right. I read a conversation in Jim De Rogatis’ Kill Your Idols : A New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics, where he and a fellow critic unloaded on the stupidity of the lyric “Like a dog without a bone, an actor all alone.” I sent him an e mail, acknowledging the triteness of the line. Only thing is that Morrison’s real words are not “an actor all alone”, but “an actor out on loan”, which refers to the movie studio practice of lending out their hired talent to other studios. It’s a metaphor that perfectly fits the moody detachment of the song.
De Rogatis’ defense was that every single web site listed the lyrics his way. The Internet is a great thing, but be careful believing everything you find in the world’s largest porn depository. I doubt the Lizard King will get an apology. Morrison gets so much crap for wanting to be a poet, as if that were an evil ambition. How about we target the guys who want to become big stars and endorse products for a change.