Today, 51 years ago, The Doors frontman, Jim Morrison was arrested after the band performed at The Pussy Cat A Go Go in Las Vegas. Morrison was taunting a security guard in the parking lot by pretending to smoke a joint. One of the bouncers hit Morrison over the head with a billy club and caused his head to bleed. This resulted in a fight and the police later charged Morrison with public drunkenness, failure to possess sufficient identification and vagrancy. On the ride to the station, Morrison was enraged and provoked the cops who later threatened to beat him up after their shift ended. This was one of the six times Morrison got arrested.
Today, 47 years ago, the American songwriter, poet and frontman of The Doors, Jim Morrison, was found dead in a bathtub in Paris. It is said that the artist died of a heart attack. The artist co-wrote some of the band’s biggest hits, including ‘Love Me Two Times’ and ‘Love Her Madly’ During the 60’s, Morrison developed an alcohol dependency that, at times, affected his performances on stage. He died at the age of 27. 25 years after his death, more than 15 000 fans gathered at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery to pay their respects.
James Douglas Morrison was born in 1943 and will forever be remembered for his poetic lyrics, wild performances, unique vocals and dramatic events throughout his life and early death. Regarded by many as one of the most influential frontmen in rock history, his rebellious legend will live on reminding fans of his contribution to the generation gap and youth countercultures. Morrison was ranked 47th on the Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Singers Of All Time” and was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
The Doors have reached mythical status and with every passing decade they gain an insurgence of new young fans. Idolizing the front man Jim Morrison is something every new generation of rock and art fans do at some point. Jim Morrison seems to be the one rock legend that truly embodied what it meant to be a Rock and Roll star: Drugs, Sex and Rock and Roll, but what really holds fans attention besides his outlandish behavior and untimely death is the duality of Mr. Morrison. Yes he was a rebel who rejected all authority but his rejection was steeped in intellect, theory and contemplation not a childish automatic reaction to control but a mature analysis of existential existence.
The 1991 Oliver Stone film many have seen will throw this half of the dichotomous division out the window and paint Morrison solely as an insane madman. Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman’s book will paint the picture of a more sane madman. Though there are large amounts of hero worship (Sugerman worked for The Doors as a teen) prevalent in the book, both authors in the aferword admit after doing extensive research and numerous interviews they both came back liking Jim Morrison a little less. The mythical image is stripped away and a true nuanced idiosyncratic artist is left standing, flawed as any man. His genius (a poet film student turned rock-theater rock star) is almost overshadowed by his strange behavior and self harming habits.
This book is a best seller for a reason and is a must read for any rock fan let alone Doors fan. Any artist that is up and coming no matter what genre or avenue of art they are in can take away a lot from this book, from how to construct the proper image, manipulate the press, conjure up controversy and control (and lose control) of an audience.
Jim Morrison: It’s absurd. How can I set free anyone who dosen’t have the guts to stand up alone and declare his own freedom? I think it’s a lie–people claim they want to be free–everybody insists that freedom is what they want the most, the most sacred and precious thing a man can possess. But that’s bullshit! People are terrified to be set free-they hold on to their chains. They fight anyone who tries to break those chains. It’s their security….How can they expect me or anyone to set them free if they don’t really want to be free?
Lizzie: Why do you think people fear freedom?
Jim: I think people resist freedom because they’re afraid of the unknown. But it’s ironic … That unknown was once very well known. It’s where our souls belong … The only solution is to confront them — confront yourself — with the greatest fear imaginable. Expose yourself to yourself to your deepest fear. After that, fear has no power, and fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.
Lizzie: What do mean when you say “freedom”?
Jim: There are different kinds of freedom — there’s a lot of misunderstanding … The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your senses for an act. You give up your ability to feel and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
You can take away a man’s political freedom and you won’t hurt him — unless you take away his freedom to feel. That can destroy him.
Lizzie: But how can anyone else have the power to take away from your freedom to feel?
Jim: Some people surrender their freedom willingly–but others are are forced to surrender it. Imprisonment begins with birth. Society, parents; they refuse to allow you to keep the freedom you are born with. There are subtle ways to punish a person for daring to feel. You see that everyone around you has destroyed his true feeling nature. You imitate what you see.
Lizzie: Are you saying that we are, in effect, brought up to defend and perpetuate a society that deprives people of the freedom to feel?
Jim: Sure … teachers,religious leaders-even friends, or so-called friends — take over where the parents leave off. They demand that we feel the only feelings they want and expect from us. They demand all the time that we preform feelings for them. We’re like actors-turned loose in this world to wander in search of a phantom … endlessly searching for a half-forgotten shadow of our lost reality. When others demand that we become the people they want us to be, they force us to destroy the person we really are. It’s a subtle kind of murder … the most loving parents and relatives commit this murder with smiles on their faces.
Lizzie: Do you think it’s possible for an individual to free himself from these repressive forces on his own — all alone?
Jim: That kind of freedom can’t be granted. Nobody can win it for you. You have to do it on your own. If you look to somebody else to do it for you — somebody outside yourself — you’re still depending on others. You’re still vulnerable to those repressive,evil outside forces, too.
Lizzie: But isn’t it possible for people who want that freedom to unite — to combine their strength, maybe just to strengthen each other? It must be possible.
Jim: Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself-and especially to feel. Or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to — letting a person be what he really is … Most people love you for who you pretend to be … To keep their love, you keep pretending — preforming. You get to love your pretense … It’s true, we’re locked in an image, an act — and the sad thing is, people get so used to their image — they grow attached to their masks. They love their chains. They forgot all about who they really are. And if you try to remind them, they hate you for it — they feel like you’re trying to steal their most precious possession.
Lizzie: It’s ironic — it’s sad. Can’t they see that what you’re trying to show them is the way to freedom?
Jim: Most people have no idea what they’re missing. Or society places a supreme value on control — hiding what you feel. Our culture mocks “primitive cultures” and prides itself on supression of natural instincts and impulses.
Lizze: In some of your poetry, you openly admire and praise primitive people — Indians, for instance. Do you mean that it’s not human beings in general but our particular society that’s flawed and destructive?
Jim: Look at how other cultures live –p eacefully, in harmony with the earth, the forest — animals. They don’t build war machines and invest millions of dollars in attacking other countries whose political ideals don’t happen to agree with their own.
Lizze: We live in a sick society.
Jim: It’s true … and part of the disease is not being aware that we’re diseased … Our society has too much to hold on to,and value — freedom ends up at the bottom of the list.
Lizze: But isn’t there something an artist con do? If you didn’t feel you, as an artist, could accomplish something, how could you go on?
Jim: I offer images — I conjure memories of freedom that can still be reached — like The Doors, right? But we can only open the doors — we can’t drag people through. I can’t free them unless they want to be free — more than anything else … Maybe primitive people have less bullshit to let go of, to give up. A person has to be willing to give up everything — not just wealth. All the bullshit he’s been taught — all society brainwashing. You have to let go of all that to get to the other side. Most people aren’t willing to do that.
‘Feast Of Friends’ is the only film about The Doors…by The Doors! This documentary was never finished and after viewing it you can easily tell. Maybe this is supposed to be the film representation of one having their ‘doors of perception’ opened and experiencing all of experience at once, the experience in this case ironically being The Doors. But most likely this film was purposefully intended to be chaotic, one dead give away is the fact that Jim Morrison says himself, when asked by the interviewer what reaction the viewer should have, that viewer he hopes would be left “Puzzled”. The Doors are clearly still creatively hitting their mark.
The film is a good glimpse into the life of this legendary band, on tour in the summer of 1968, in all their glory they grace stages to complete chaos by the crowd. Some scenes seem right out of a Punk Rock performance with officers throwing rowdy crowd members off stage as they bum rush The Lizard King mid song. Jim Morrison is followed by a camera and we get to see the reaction of onlookers who treat him like a holy man, sometimes the view goes into a sort of first person shot and we get to experience how it is to have this power first hand.
There is some pretty humorous and random behind the scenes backstage footage. Some confusing footage and sporadic behavior as well to go along with this non-linear non-sequitur film. And on queue it ends abruptly, and as organist Ray Manzarek says in response to Jim’s hopes for the film “Puzzled..Yeah that’s a good word.”
Watch the trailer below.