Jim Morrison Sandy Pearlman - Essay

Sandy Pearlman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Doors are spectral. Maybe more than anybody. What counts is the impression for which no significant referent detail can or should be found. The music ends and there is no detail which you can refer to actually justify your impression. But you have that impression. And it's not even ambiguous. "The little girls they understand." Understand? Most importantly, there is a statement being made. But how? Take the words of a Doors song. Lots of people think the songs make them "swim in mystery." And if they think so, then they do. But usually the words aren't really bizarre or neat enough to do that. Everybody I know thought that Strange Days wasn't half as much fun as the first album [The Doors]. They figured Morrison would be a better old time type poet by now. Give the boy time, you know, he'll grow. But in an old timesy poetry sense his songs weren't any better. The words were good enough to be unambiguously assertive, to literally make a statement. Not good enough to automatically give you the creeps. Since the company men printed all the words (even some that weren't there) on the inner record sleeve, there was disappointment in homes all over America. At last everything could be understood all at once. The context of mystery, a hangover from what the first album did to us all, and reinforced by the resemblance of so much of the music on the second to that of the first album, seemed threatened by clarity….

So here are the points. The Doors' words aren't bizarre enough. But even the words of really conventionally neat stuff (The Bible; Baudelaire; miscellaneous batwinged English poets, i.e. [William] Blake/[Samuel Taylor] Coleridge; R. Meltzer, etc.) stop being bizarre when you set eyes upon them. Familiarity nibbles away surprise, and suppose then somebody...

(The entire section is 739 words.)