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Doors Jim Morrison: Rock Star or Poet?

Jim Morrison always wanted to be a writer. A year before his death in 1971, a Doors singer even told interviewers that he considered poetry, not music, to be the ultimate form of art. However, rock and roll stardom got in the way.

On Tuesday, his estate will release “The Collected Works of Jim Morrison,” an anthology of his poetry, diary, film treatment, and lyrics. The release also includes an audiobook, in which punk rock pioneer Patti Smith and others recite his experimental and abstract poems, and Morrison himself did not complete the poem. I’m recording the studio recording material for the album.

Nearly 600 pages of “Collected Works” is an attempt to enhance Morrison’s literary reputation, setting him as an unconventional poet influenced by the Beat Generation. Critics have long debated the merits of Morrison’s poetry. Some call his work amateurish or exaggerated. Without the Doors’ popularity, his writings wouldn’t be noticed. The success of The Doors also contributed significantly to guitarist Robby Krieger’s songwriting and keyboardist Ray Manzarek and drummer John Densmore. I am contributing.

Others are talking about Morrison’s influence. Patti Smith, a perfect blend of music and literary fame, calls him “one of our great poets.”

“He wasn’t just a singer. He was writing all the time. He was always writing,” said Anne Morrison Tuning, Morrison’s sister and co-executor of Morrison Real Estate. I will. She worked on the project with Morrison’s best friend Frank Richard, 78, in the 1960s. Tuning says he wanted people to see “the big picture of him.”

Jim Morrison (far left) and parents and siblings (including sister Anne Morrison Thuning standing next to him in 1960).


Photo:

George Morrison Family Partnership, LP, Courson Family Enterprises, LLC.

Morrison became interested in writing when he was a kid when a military family moved every year or two. According to a former teacher, Tuning, 74, who lives near Santa Barbara, he and his sister took piano lessons for a year but gave up. Instead, Morrison read Albert Camus and Friedrich Nietzsche and filled the pages of the ledger with prose poetry, short plays, and other considerations.

After attending college in Florida, Morrison moved to Los Angeles to study another major concern, the film, met Ray Manzarek and formed the Doors with him in 1965. Band rehearsal. As at times, he stood with his back to the audience. “Then he realized that the audience had something to do with it,” says Robby Krieger.

With the band’s explosive fame on the albums “The Doors” and “Strange Days” in 1967, they used Morrison’s poems as material and even throughout the song. For example, one of his high school poems, “Horse Latitudes,” appears in “Strange Days.”

A handwritten page of notes included in the new anthology of Morrison’s book.


Photo:

George Morrison Family Partnership, LP and Courson Family Enterprises, LLC.

However, with Morrison’s growing alcoholism, the band began to struggle creatively. During the production of the 1968 Waiting for the Sun album, his “The Celebration of the Lizard”, an ambitious rock poem to fill one side of the LP and included in “The Collected Works,” was a success. did not do it. Morrison and his bandmates thought the composition was cohesive, as they weren’t carved on stage like their previous epics “End” and “When the Music was Over.”

In 1969, Morrison was advised by the late Beat poet Michael McClure to create space for writing. He published the poem at his own expense and published it in literary and music magazines under the name James Douglas Morrison. He worked on the film and planned to release a poetry album on the band’s label Elektra Records. In 1970, Simon & Schuster delighted Morrison and published his book, The Lords and the New Creatures. But he also dealt with the legal implications of accusations related to his antics at Miami concerts: “Jim was fed up with being a pop star,” Krieger said. .. “He felt it was hurting his true desire to be known as a poet.”

Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson in Muir Woods, California, 1967.


Photo:

Bobby Klein./Doors Property |, LLC.

After the 1970s Morrison Hotel and the 1971 LA Woman (an album considered a return to formation and fulfilling a band contract with Electra), Morrison left the music with his girlfriend Pamela. I went to Paris and tried to reduce my drinking. Cruson. He died of heart failure on July 3, 1971, at the age of 27.

The new book page has the lyrics for “Riders on the Storm”.


Photo:

George Morrison Family Partnership, LP and Courson Family Enterprises, LLC.

Coolson, who Morrison left everything in his will, returned to the United States with many notes. However, when she also died of heroin overdose in 1974, her family took control of Morrison’s property. The Coolsons and Morrisons legally fought over the estate, but eventually agreed to a split. Tuning became a co-executor in 2009 and began digging into Morrison’s vault.

At that time, she came across a list called “Book Plans” written by Morrison. “There was no debate about how to lay out the book,” said Jeff Jampol, who manages both The Doors and Jim Morrison’s real estate. “Jim taught me”

When Tuning began to look up Morrison’s notebook, she found a page called “Book Plans.”


Photo:

George Morrison Family Partnership, LP / Coolson Family Enterprise, LLC.

Lisiandro, who worked with the Coolsons to publish two Morrison posthumous poems, saw the potential for a larger project. He helped find and copy additional notes other than the estate’s property, and found and collected manuscript material. (Another Paris note may remain intact.)

He also used a line of Morrison’s notes to compose some autobiographical poems, some suggesting regret and a desire for a restart. Do you have the opportunity to write Paradise Lost? “.

When asked if the general public misunderstood Morrison, Krieger replied, “Yes, I think so.” But he added, “He was misunderstanding himself.”

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Write to Neil Shah neil.shah@wsj.com

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Doors Jim Morrison: Rock Star or Poet?

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