Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I recently read a couple of rock star bios.  Most of them are not worth wasting one second of a lifetime on, but at times there is an individual who is beyond interesting.  I wrote this review for When You’re Strange for another site, but it was more suited to this site after I have it some thought.   

In the rock star world it would be quite difficult to find a more intriguing class member than Jim Morrison.  Morrison was the stereotypical rock star defined as reality. The documentary, When You’re Strange paints a not too pretty picture of one of the most iconic of classic rock bands – The Doors. It is mesmerizing, electric, fascinating and of course, strange.

Forty seven years after the formation of the band, Jim Morrison’s antics (on and off stage) are still somewhat odd, even by today’s standards and that’s saying something. Imagine coming off as odd in 2012? Morrison, also known to rock fans as the “lizard king” was certainly a charismatic presence (on and off stage). That statement isn’t arguable. He ruled the stage with that stunningly beautiful face and those powerhouse vocals. Watching film/tape/video of the band (although, specifically watching Jim Morrison) is literally transitioning. I’m writing this almost as if I were in charge of the obituary section of a major news daily. The band is long dead and Morrison passed away in Paris 41 years ago, but it’s like I just watched death pass before me. Death is indeed powerful.

Morrison came from a seemingly normal family, but he was one major trial and tribulation. All of those trials and tribulations weren’t drug and alcohol induced. Looking into his eyes as he performed you almost wonder if he was suffering from mental illness. I’ve seen lots of bands and solo artists over the years and I’ve seen them play loaded and/or stoned and yet none of them had that look. His eyes were dead. When You’re Strange is an interesting journey through the life of a man who had absolutely no idea how messed up he was or how gifted he was.

I love this genre of music. I came of age to classic rock and I surrounded my life with multiple listens to the still haunting L.A. Woman. One can’t help but be transported to another time on every single earful. That song is rock music. You are in that song. For one still moment you almost become that song. Mr. Mojo Rising. How many times have you heard Morrison sing that over and over and over and yet it’s new on every press of the play.

Johnny Depp’s narration added a commanding respect for the creative art of Morrison and the Doors. Depp is one of my favorite actors today and he is sincere and genuine in his narrative drive, but Depp, even at his own personal weirdest seems apple pie normal next to Jim Morrison. I somewhat suspected, even at a young age that Morrison was off his proverbial rocker, but this documentary shows the madness of Morrison. I went into this documentary with a certain level of “I can’t wait to see this” and of course, I’m glad I saw it (I watched it a second time), but now I am filled with sadness.

Morrison needed help. He needed love. Having a fellow substance abuser as your partner in sex is not exactly Nat King Cole’s version of LOVE. Dead at 27? There is nothing romantic, glamorous or poetic about death at 27. He was strange and clearly a tad crazy from too many hallucinogens and too little peace of mind. Where was his joy of heart? Too many psychedelics and alcohol.  His brain was roasted and his eyes were baked.  Jim Morrison’s story is a tragic one. 

He remains more than a generation after his death one of the unforgettable front men of rock music. His iconic baritone and surreal lyrics were timeless and commanding.  I would have loved to have seen him live on a stage, but that can only be had in a dream.

What on earth could lead a human being with that vocal ability and that face to destroy himself physically, psychologically and spiritually? I have no answers to any of those questions.

When I went to Paris in March, 1988 I went to see Morrison’s grave and like so many visitors to the tomb I left a floral arrangement. I left it with love. Too bad in life he had no one hand him a care package filled with love. We loved that face until it got bloated.  We loved that voice until it was stilled. We loved that music and we still have it around to fool with our minds and hearts.

I only wish he had found peace of mind and joy of heart.

May the poet rest in peace.

Copyright Read On Read Now 2011

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