Monday, December 17, 2007

Break on Through

Any fans of The Doors out there?

I'm in the middle of a biography of Jim Morrison by James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky called cleverly Break on Through. I'm familiar with some details of Jim Morrison's life after watching the incredible film based on their career, and after reading a Rolling Stone article on his life after acknowledging an anniversary of his death. This book explores more details with which I was before unfamiliar.

Here's what I've learned (random Doors facts):

Jim had issues with his father who was a powerful military man. Perhaps some lyrics and behaviors can be psychologically analyzed with this paternal problem in mind. I can see why he clashed with that though, being a child of the 1950s with an older soul that was going to clash rock and roll to some degree that Elvis Presley did. He was not going to have a straight-laced career like the military, and he was going to pursue a career that is more in touch with the feminie side of oneself (singing, writing poetry, dancing, and performing) even though he was a national sex icon for females. Perhaps this is why he stated in an interview, upon becoming famous, that his parents were dead. Perhaps it was to save them the embarassment or bombardment of the media, or perhaps in a figurative way, they were dead to him.

Jim's first ambition was filmmaking. He went to a college in California (a division of UCLA) to study film. He made one film which was rejected from the audience for its wild, eccentric, and drug-induced material.

Many of The Doors songs and lyrics were created on a rooftop when Jim had a multiple-day acid trip. After college was completed, he went to this rooftop in Venice, California where he did not leave that spot for days, continuously tripping and writing until his hands cramped, not eating anything and shaving off pounds that used to have him considered a chubby person. During a trip, he envisioned himself on a stage singing in front of a mass of people. It was then he knew he had to create music even though he had no musical background whatsoever. Morrison's first song was "Moonlight Drive;" other songs include "The End" (later to be transformed to its longer version on stage), "Summer's Almost Gone," "Not to Touch the Earth," "My Eyes Have Seen You," "When the Music's Over," etc.

Morrison wrote "Hello I Love You" when on a beach with Ray Mazarek. A girl passed by, which Morrison responded the title to her and was inspired to write the song. "Soul Kitchen" was inspired by a cafe in Venice Beach called Olivia's Cafe. "Break on Through" was created when Morrison was walking through the canals. A girl from his past inspired him to write it as he reflected on the experiences with her on his walk.

The band's name was created by Jim who was inspired by a William Blake quotation: "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear as it is, infinite." He also read a book by Aldous Huxley (author of Brave New World) entitled The Doors of Perception, also adopted from the quotation. That book was about experiences with mescaline, a drug, of course. Morrison wanted to provide a door for others to receive other experiences, be it lyrically or musically. He had multiple purposes in becoming a performer and artist.

The last paragraph of the book above reads as follows: "But the man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less cock-sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend." Can we see why Jim chose The Doors?

Perhaps this entering the door coincides with him wanting the American population to break on through to the other side. It's fitting that this song was a big hit for the band early on. I think The Doors allowed America to do just that in 1967 when the album came out. They couldn't have picked a better time to come out with their first album, especially with the sound and messages they created on the album as a whole.

The Doors never had a bass player. They never needed one with Ray's addition on the keyboard.

Jim never was really into drugs before college, but once he got into them, he became hard core, hopping from one acid trip to the next. A friend of his and Jim used to travel from one free acid clinic testing to the next, taking as many tabs as they could get. They downed pills and smoked a lot of drugs, but Jim never really strayed away from this behavior. He could put more substances into his body than many. He always kept a high tolerance. He just chose a career where he could sustain this lifestyle.

Jim's main aspiration was to become a poet. He wanted to be recognized more as a poet than a recording artist, for he tried to create poems and lyrics that were deeper and more meaningful than others out there. It's no surprise now to discover books of Morrison's poetry and that he was one of the leading voices for the Summer of Love in 1967.

Jim met Pam (his long-time girlfriend) even before they became famous. Even though he had some promiscuous behavior, he always attached and stayed with this girl. He did need that deeper connection with someone to act as some sort of base or family.

Jim always voiced that he never thought he would live long. Dying at 27 with the other artists that are known as Forever 27 (Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain), I guess he was right.

Lastly, I want to end with a conversation in Venice Beach between Ray and Jim:

JIM: How long do you want to live?
RAY: Oh, I'd like to go to about eighty-seven--get to see my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
JIM: Not me. You know how I see myself? As a great shooting star, a huge fiery comet. Everyone stops and gasps and points up and says, 'Oh, look! Oh, look at that!' Then whooosh! I'm gone. But they'll never see anything like it again--and they'll never be able to forget me.

It gives me chills to even read it. I wonder if we do somehow feel our fate in the depths of our inner selves before it even happens. Something to ponder, I guess.

Let's swim to the moon
Let's climb thru the tide
Penetrate the evenin'
That the city sleeps to hide


Anonymous said...

I have read Ray's book, "Light My Fire" and I am just starting John's "Riders on the Storm"- Your writing reflects him not as Stone tried to portray him, but as an intelligent, poetic, wandering soul. Thank you for bringing together all sides and for posting-

Anonymous said...

Hello.. just wanted to make a few historical corrections that i noticed. About Jim's musical background. He did have some background in music. he grew up under his father's piano, and in later years into his teens Jim, his father and his brother Andy would sit around the piano and harmonize like pros. Also Jim lived on the rooftop in Venice Beach for months after UCLA, where he took acid regularly.. (not just one multi-day trip), and the vision of a large concert which he described to Ray was one which, in his vision he was "witnessing from the audience, and taking notes" ..on himself? perhaps. If you get a chance, read "No One Here Gets Out Alive".. in my opinion it's the best all around doors bio. As for the Oliver Stone film, alot of the facts and timing of the film are way off. Patricia Kennely (the woman Jim Married in the wiccan ceremony.. in real life as well as the movie) has put a curse on the movie, saying it only showed one of Jim's many sides.. and how at the end of the film you didn't care that Jim had died. True..

franny3693 said...

As I view all the facts on this web site, I recall that today is the anniversary of the death of the Lizard king. My mind is on the fact that he actually broke on through to the other side