Photo by Joel Brodski
Marking the 50th anniversary of the Rock’s poet untimely demise, “The Collected Works of Jim Morrison: Poetry, Journals, Transcripts, and Lyrics” offers a rare glimpse of the man behind the myth
Inside the mind of The Lizard King
By David Warren
James Douglas Morrison, born in Melbourne, Florida on December 8th, 1943, best known to the world as Jim Morrison, Rock star and lead singer of The Doors, never got to live the literary life he dreamed of. His untimely demise at age just 27 prevented him to join the circle of his true heroes, which were not musicians but writers, philosophers and poets, names such as Jack Kerouac, Camus, Rimbaud, Allen Ginsberg, Nietzsche, William Burroughs, William Blake, and the list goes on. In life, Morrison stated a few times that he used music as means to an end, a vehicle to expand his career as a writer and a poet, and in fact, Morrison was never the typical enthusiast musician despite being not only a talented lyricist but also a songwriter (who never learned how to play any instrument). After five intense years as a Rock star and consequently, pin up image, sex symbol and Rock’s bad boy, Morrison thought that he was finally ready to jump full time on the literary adventure. He said goodbye to Los Angeles and America with a last studio album with The Doors, “L.A Woman”, and flew to Paris, France where he planned to become a new persona, leaving behind millions of records sold and a quick jump to stardom in 1967, that “transformed” him into the self-proclaimed Lizard King, his most famous alter-ego.
Ever since he was a teenager, he wanted to be a writer, and growing up reading the Beat generation, had an impact on him that later in life he would translate into music and theatrical stage performances with The Doors. Often considered one of Rock music’s best lyricist, Jim Morrison indulged into excess throughout his life, he chased “the palace of exile”, “the snake”, he roamed through the “endless night”, only to find himself trapped in his own success, with a serious trial resulting from accusations of exposing himself and inciting to a riot during the infamous 1969 Miami concert of The Doors, where he tried in vain, make his own performance inspired by the experimental theatrical group The Living Theatre. It didn’t worked out well…
In 1971. living in Paris, Morrison was able to finish a few notes in his journals, but the book he had in his mind, he never finished. He found new dangers in the city of romance, and found himself trapped again in old habits that were hard to leave behind, such as his excesses. On July 3 ,1971, Morrison died of a (officially) heart attack, a death never quite explained, and that has lead to countless speculations and theories throughout the years. Some say his body couldn’t take it anymore, some says he was bad luck with the timing moving to Paris, as the city was being invaded by heroin everywhere during those months and once again, he went too far, but this time, to a path of no return, and some say he just put out his last theatrical performance, jumping out of the wagon and roamed to Africa to be anonymous (as so many times he stated he wanted to be) just like one of his heroes, Arthur Rimbaud, tried to do before him. But it has been 50 years and now news from Africa.
Today, the “Morrison Hotel” remains in Paris, after 50 years, at the Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France, where the discreet tomb of one of Rock’s and Pop Culture biggest legends stands, to the upset of French authorities, despite being the most visited grave and one of the top places to visit in Paris (can legends be measured by the importance of their tomb being considered a touristic photo opportunity?) In life, Morrison never joined the literary circle he dreamed of, and just like a twist of fate, he’s now surrounded by some of it’s biggest names, from Oscar Wilde to Balzac, with his name engraved next to theirs. Though we may never know if Morrison would be a literary giant or just a footnote, Père Lachaise is the righteous place for his last stop,
Today The Doors remain one of the most popular bands, and their music, timeless,, Jim Morrison’s iconic image may contribute to their re-discovery from generation to generation, it has been like that since 1971. In life, Jim Morrison published two poetry books, “The Lords” and “The New Creatures”, none were successful sales and were printed in a very limited number. He also started to work in the recording of his poetry, a solo spoken word record that was left unfinished, but in 1978 was finally turned into an album, “An American Prayer”, with the surviving members of The Doors picking up some of his finest moments of poetry alongside with new music by the band. After his death, his poetry books and journals have been published intensively worldwide and translated into several languages, now, for the first time “The Collected Works of Jim Morrison: Poetry, Journals, Transcripts, and Lyrics” brings the complete literary work of Morrison compiled, illustrated by fine photographs and drawings made by Morrison himself. This is an effort put together by the Morrison Estate, which includes his two siblings Anne and Andy Morrison as well as the family of his “cosmic mate” Pamela Courson (who found his body on the morning of July 3, 1971), that passed away also at age 27 from a heroin overdose, three years after Jim and to whom Morrison left everything in his will (throughout the years Pamela and Jim’s open relationship was tumultuous, but as they both stated, were “soulmates” who loved and followed each other everywhere.
For years though, the Courson family has been reluctant in releasing a lot of Morrison solo material such as his writing, but now, with this 600 page release, the fans can dig further into the labyrinth that was The Lizard King’s mind, being through poems, lyrics, journals and notes or movie scripts.
If you can spare a few more 1000 bills, you can get the super-luxury limited edition which brings not only the book but also a vinyl record set with recordings of Morrison’s poetry, replicas of his notebooks and journals, and also signed personally by The Doors members Robby Krieger, John Densmore and Morrison’s siblings Anne and Any.
Watch the music video “Ghost Song” by The Doors, featuring Jim Morrison’s spoken word
Listen to Jim Morrison’s only poetry album with music by The Doors, “An American Prayer”
Watch The Doors related videos
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