Jim Morrison Paulette Weiss - Essay

Paulette Weiss

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Is] "American Prayer" valid today? Can new music by the Doors tacked onto a monologue recorded more than eight years ago do justice to Morrison? Even if it were artistically successful, why release a rock-based disc with literary ambitions at a time when literacy itself seems to be dying, when young rock fans often can't (and often aren't required to) read, let alone deal with the complexities of poetry?

The truth is that "American Prayer" sounds more than a bit old-fashioned, faintly reminiscent of beat poetry read in the dark coffee houses of the Fifties. Yet it is a strangely moving, strikingly cohesive, and, above all, entertaining album for reasons that go beyond mere nostalgia. Interspersed with Morrison's voice and the new music are snippets of tapes made at his concerts (including crowd noises) and two previously recorded songs. The editing throughout is simply superb. Particularly effective is a chilling segment featuring a telephone conversation in which Morrison confesses to having murdered someone, his words punctuated by lines from the ominous Riders on the Storm originally recorded for the 1971 album "L.A. Woman"…. (pp. 70-1)

Paulette Weiss, "The Lizard King Lives," in Stereo Review (copyright © 1979 by Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), Vol. 42, No. 4, April, 1979, pp. 70-1.