Jim Morrison

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 440

The Doors presented as complete a statement as the Doors themselves were capable of, each track unveiling another facet of Morrison's polygonic personality. If "Back Door Man" established his erotic credentials, "Soul Kitchen" enhanced them….

The album's tour de force, "The End," had begun innocently as the Doors' show farewell, stretched by Morrison into a molten fresco of travel-weary images and faces. "C'mon, baby, take a chance with us," he cajoled, outlining terrors real, imagined, pulsing with phosphorescence and decay. He walked through hallways beyond the range of vision, confronting the Oedipal embrace of "Father I want to kill you … Mother I want to …," the beast language of primal instinct. (p. 163)

Pinioned by the respective demands of their dual audiences, the one demanding hit singles, the other "art," the Doors were never able to combine these demands to their own satisfaction. Morrison made few concessions to commerciality for its own sake, but the fact that this was underrecognized throughout much of the group's creative career created, in retrospect, many needless problems. Morrison, especially, seemed to feel alternately trapped and emboldened. Consumed by the idea of music as ritual, he both accepted and thrust maddeningly at its boundaries. (p. 165)

The awareness brought by this quixotic dilemma surfaced as early as the Doors' second album, Strange Days. The poetry was more formal ("Horse Latitudes"), the swagger more overt ("Love Me Two Times"), the surrealistic patchwork of "The End" transferred to the strident invocations of "When The Music's Over." But the Doors, like most of their generation, had to decide what to do with the world once it was theirs….

Morrison, seeking to heal the rift, only exacerbated it. In The Unknown Soldier, a 1968 single with accompanying film, he sacrificed his cinematic self to the cry of "The war is over!" surviving onstage to herald the good news. Only it was never that easy. Too simply could he become the fool, drunk and disorderly; also, to be sure, he could become the blessed poet. A long epic took shape, "The Celebration of the Lizard," though only the studio fragment of "Not To Touch The Earth" was actually released. The music gained texture and ornamentation; Morrison scooped deeper into his fantasies, rich and loamy, a rite of natural fertility. Perhaps the struggle was also inward, the pretensions of a pop star rebelling against the pretensions of an artist. Perhaps it was too early to understand that one need not conflict with the other. (p. 166)

David Dalton and Lenny Kaye, "The Doors," in their Rock 100 (copyright © 1977 by David Dalton and Lenny Kaye; used by permission of Grosset & Dunlap, Inc.), Grosset & Dunlap, 1977, pp. 163-66.

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