The late Jim Morrison of The Doors, the charismatic, most influential and controversial, provocative singers in music history, would have been 69 years old today.
With a life and legend shrouded in constant dissection, awe, praise, disgust, carelessness, and out and out creativity which grabbed from a well of poetry, classic literature, and an eye and finger on the pulses of human life, existence, dark mysteries, and constant reaching for new life and soul education, the pedigree and output of work from Jim Morrison still stands as a checkpoint for all who followed him, and there were many and still are many to this every day in the musical universe.
Like Elvis Presley and using a lot of the physical posturing, attitude, and energy that Presley pretty much invented, and utilizing the swagger of Frank Sinatra, Morrison fused the two together, dressed them both up in shamanic clothing with a take-no-prisoners attitude, and as the lead singer of The Doors, became a mighty force in rock and roll, a typhoon who lived life on the edge of the edge, walking barefoot on its razor sharp precipices. There are so many stories and opinions as to who Jim Morrison was, what made him tick, what made him sprint out of the starting gate to become almost like a prophet to millions, and eventually a pariah. To this day, his image remains stratosphere high; who the real person was is inconsequential, it’s the classic imagery and legend of him that is paramount, as if that image broke free from his carcass of his body, and became his norm. Even his death in 1971 still to this day is immersed and mired in controversy as many fans wonder if he is even dead, which in itself is ludicrous when you take into account his lifestyle, which almost singlehandedly defined the word decadence, but there are people who still believe and parlay the theories that Morrison didn’t die in Paris 41 years ago. It’s a testament to what a provocateur in a positive and negative sense, James Douglas Morrison was and continues to be, all these decades later.
Everything about Morrison, from his large mane of hair, to his skinny yet svelte limber body, barely covered in jet black leather pants, (although he would have questionable girth as a few years went on, a negative by-product of his lifestyle) seemed to have a keen sense of danger about it, a danger that transcended himself. At the Doors’ peak, the world watched him with an eye of befuddled wonderment, wondering how long would it last, how much could Morrison push the envelope, which he didn’t just push, he rammed into it with a bulldozer again and again, delighting, alienating, angering, muscling his friends, loved ones, cohorts, companions, strangers, no one was free from the Morrison speedcar, which barreled down metaphoric highways at speeds untold, dazzling and dizzying.
With The Doors’ doomy, early gothic creepy noises, sights and sounds, it created a perfect synergy with its lead singer; they almost became an empty vessel for him to fill up. He used their musical cues to reach as high as he could; he was like an elastic band that could stretch and stretch in perfect perpetuity, never on the verge of breaking. It was this metaphor of sorts which defined the Morrison legend, and a legend that to this day, still intrigues, fascinates, and enthralls millions of rabid Doors and Morrison fans around the world.
With songs like “People are Strange,” “ LA Woman,” “Wishful Sinful,” “Break on Through,” “The Changeling,” “Peace Frog,” and the smash hits “Light My Fire” and “Touch Me” (penned by Doors’ guitar player Robby Krieger) and “Hello I Love You,” Morrison could be at once tender, extremely sexual (in fact, he, like Lou Reed, was one of the first frontmen in music history to unabashedly use sexual metaphors as impetus for his work), terrifying, sublime, peaceful, and disruptive whilst singing. The Doors catalog and the band itself, remains some of music’s finest of all time, helped largely if not arguably solely by Morrison.
So let’s have a global celebration of the lizard king today, to the man who helped raise rock and roll to shock rock theater, the kind crystallized by frontmen who followed, like Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, and countless others. To the man who while some would say in hindsight was his own worst enemy, still showed the world that you can have a good time without rules, that rules were meant to be splintered, who told all the people that he saw to follow him down, that no one here would get out alive, who lived on love street, and who broke on through to the other side while standing knee deep in blood in the streets that was up to his ankles, the irrepressible and unforgettable, Jim Morrison.