Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jim Morrison: Dionysian Shaman or Acid-Addled Freak?

Photo:  Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson.

I watched Oliver Stone's 1991 movie on the life of Jim Morrison, on Hulu.com last night.  It stars Val Kilmer as the strange rock star of the Doors, an acid rock band that performed and recorded from 1967 to 1971.  The Doors are famous for such rock hits as "Light My Fire," "LA Woman," "Riders on the Storm," and "No One Here Gets Out Alive."

Kilmer actually sang the Morrison songs in the 1991 film, and he was simply awful.  He portrays Morrison as he most likely was in life: a narcissistic, self-absorbed addict who made a concerted effort to erase all viable brain cells with a steady regimen of hard liquor and drugs.  In the process, Kilmer's Morrison goes on stage wasted, insulting the audience, improvising incoherent lyrics to songs, and greatly aggravating both club owners and fellow band members.   Off stage, Kilmer's Morrison is depicted as screwing every female within a three mile radius.  Naked women are seen running through the halls of his hotel while his common law wife, Pamela Courson, suffers the infidelity.  When he isn't copulating, Morrison is depicted smashing things and screaming at Courson.

The film portrays some real events in the life and dubious career of Jim Morrison:  his confrontation with the police in a New Haven, Connecticut concert, where he was arrested on stage, leading to a fan riot in the streets; his alleged indecent exposure on a Miami stage.  Per Wikipedia:
During a Doors concert on March 1, 1969, at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, Florida, Morrison gave a controversial performance. The restless crowd was subjected to Morrison's lack of interest in singing, as well as to his emotional outbursts, screaming challenges to the audience, and making irreverent social statements. A few days later, on March 5, the Dade County Sherrif's office issued a warrant for Morrison's arrest claiming Morrison deliberately exposed his penis while on stage, shouted obscenities to the crowd, simulated oral sex on guitarist Robbie Krieger and was drunk at the time of his performance. Morrison turned down a plea bargain that required The Doors to perform a free Miami concert. He was later convicted, sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay a $500 fine. However, Morrison appealed this conviction and died in Paris before serving his sentence.
In fairness, the bit about exposing himself was later proved untrue; only one witness claimed to have witnessed Morrison's penis, and she was a cousin of the arresting officer.  However, Morrison was guilty of all the other charges, e.g., public drunkenness, public obscenities, etc.  Some sources say he tried to induce the Miami audience to riot, but failed in the attempt.

At the end of his career, Jim Morrison was showing signs of substance-abuse dementia at the band's last and final concert:
During the Doors' last public performance, at The Warehouse in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 12, 1970, Morrison apparently had a breakdown on stage. Midway through the set he slammed the microphone numerous times into the stage floor until the platform beneath was destroyed, then sat down and refused to perform for the remainder of the show.
Morrison moved with his common law wife, Pamela Courson, to Paris in March 1971.  He spent several weeks taking walks through the city and visiting all of the usual tourist attractions.  However, on July 3, 1971, after spitting up blood and complaining of chest pains, decided to take a bath.  Courson found him dead in the bath tub at 5 AM.  Morrison had apparently died of a heart attack induced by a drug overdose.  No autopsy was made, however, to confirm the cause of death.  He was 27 years old.

Morrison was buried in the famous Parisian cemetery Pere Lachaise on July 7, 1971.  This cemetery holds the remains of many famous people, such as Frédéric Chopin, Eugène Delacroix, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, and Oscar Wilde.  One of my favorite French singers, Yves Montand, is buried there as well.

Morrison's grave was soon a gathering place for fans who share Morrison's fascination with death; they scaled the walls at night to place lighted candles on his headstone, while smoking pot or drinking booze, leaving used needles, flowers, empty bottles and other paraphernalia behind. Morrison's bust (a statue of Morrison's head and shoulders) on the grave, as well as surrounding walls and tombs, were soon festooned with graffiti. In later years, someone stole the bust and cemetery officials removed the graffiti. Night patrols now discourage nocturnal visits from drug-addled fans. But they still come in the daylight.

Morrison's wife, Pamela Courson, went home to California and died of a heroin overdose in 1974.  Her ashes are entombed there.

The Jim Morrison story is interesting to me. He, like Obama and many other "celebrities," has become a fantasy for fans, who impute great poetic, intellectual or shaman-like qualities to their idol. Morrison, however, was a weak man of limited talents who self-destructed in an orgy of nihilistic self-indulgence.

Here's a video of Morrison performing his most famous hit, "Light My Fire":


Stogie said...

<span>A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.</span>
<span>Jim Morrison</span>
<span> </span>

Enter at http://jim-morrison-fanclub.blogspot.com/ <span> </span>and leave a comment about Jim Morrison
Your comment will be published in a book about Jim Morrison
Best comments will receive a free boook
Fanclub Jim Morrison

Stogie said...

You have no idea what you say Jim had an IQ of 149 genius is 130 , what are your talents?

Stogie said...

Well I have an IQ of 146 and I doubt that is genius; it is too low to get into Mensa.  Some of my talents, which Morrison didn't have, are these:  (1) I didn't essentially commit suicide with heroin and cocaine; (2) I have loved the same woman for 34 years; (3) I am not a complete freaking jackass on stage when I play bass with bands.  For starters.

Anonymous said...

Your complete lack of an understanding of who james douglas morrison was astounds me and makes you sound like a fool. You could not possibly have your facts more twisted. Maybe do a bit more research next time. Moron.

Stogie said...

Anonymous, like most people with no facts or specifics, you are to be ignored. Go straight to hell.

stranger said...

Self improvement is masturbation. Now self destruction...

Anonymous said...

Your impression of Jim Morrison seems to have been formed too much from the movie, which was hardly accurate. It was not a documentary; it was a highly sensationalized account of Morrison's life that lacked a genuine understanding of what the man was all about. There are many fabrications and exaggerations. One example: Morrison on the Ed Sullivan Show. He did not emphasize the word "higher" and move towards the camera. Look at the work, not the movie, to understand Morrison.

Stogie said...

Anonymous, actually I had previously seen television documentaries on Jim Morrison and I read about him in Wikipedia, both of which portrayed him as a profound drunk and druggie. He seems to have badly self-destructed. Too bad, no doubt he could have given a lot more to music had he stayed sober some of the time.

His "Light My Fire" was my favorite Doors song.

Rob J said...

Jim Morrison was a great vocalist
and frontman who suffered from a major drink problem.

If he was around today, he would
be the face of a thousand magazines
backed by major corporations.
He would have been too valuable
a commodity to wind up as a burnt
out parody aged only 27.

Oscar Wilde once said :- "There
are two types of tragedy. One is
not getting what you want. The
other is getting it. "

Let him rest in peace.

Stogie said...

Morrison's self-destruction can serve as a warning to others. For that reason, his story must be told.

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote this is a huge idiot! No facts and no writing skills. I'm being kind by only saying this.

JML26 said...

'The Jim Morrison story is interesting to me. He, like Obama and many other "celebrities," has become a fantasy for fans, who impute great poetic, intellectual or shaman-like qualities to their idol. Morrison, however, was a weak man of limited talents who self-destructed in an orgy of nihilistic self-indulgence.' ..... Comparing OBAMA to Morrison???? You have to be F*cking kidding me?????? Really??!!!! Obama is a loser!

Stogie said...

This guy said "No One Here Gets Out Alive" was a song by the Doors. Obviously, this was a biography book written on Jim and not a song. This tells how much the idiot knows about Jim Morrison and the Doors right there.

Stogie said...

"Kilmer actually sang the Morrison songs in the 1991 film, and he was simply awful. He portrays Morrison as he most likely was in life..."

I'm not going to waste any effort attempting to change your mind - anyone who can make an assumption like that without pause for thought is beyond the reach of genuine debate - but on the slight chance that you have any interest in the truth, the surviving members of The Doors, without exception, hated the movie and made it very clear that they considered Stone's depiction of Morrison to be caricature at best, and outright character assasination at worst.

Ali K said...

I have no words for the author of this piece. You see, it is the brightest and most intellectually advanced that are the most troubled. This is because their images of society and the world are not compatible with the "real" world society has created. This is also why individuals born under the sign of Pisces, the most advanced and mature sign of the zodiac, are the most likely to become drug addicts and alcoholics. People whose ideas are too advanced and different from the rest are ridiculed and feel alone and thus retreat to drugs and alcohol to attempt to separate themselves from the societal view of reality that is not held by them. Jim was as close as we have gotten to a modern day poet, philosopher, and prophet that has also achieved mass fame and reached a broad demographic.

Robert H said...

You got that right pal. I had to read-and reread-and read once more because I was certain this tool could not have possibly written what I kept rereading