photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
JIM MORRISON of THE DOORS was and will remain a ROCK AND ROLL ICON for the ages. at his peak he was this sort of HYBRID POET / SHAMAN / PROPHET figure that pointed the way to PUNK ROCK decades in advance and tapped into this previously unexploited thread that effectively unleashed the existing DRUG CULTURE and SEXUAL REVOLUTION on an unprepared square, conventional MIDDLE AMERICA mental prison from which he was raised under. ELVIS PRESLEY and THE BEATLES may have hinted at and pointed the way, but JIM MORRISON was culturally the first AVATAR of unbridled DIONYSIAN LUST and UNADULTERATED CHAOS in AMERICAN musical culture. he was the perfect frontman for that period in AMERICA's history that was turmoil at the height of the VIETNAM WAR, CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT and the emergence of the COUNTERCULTURE as a POLITICAL BLOC.
he is identifiably on the short list of his most INFLUENTIAL ROCK AND ROLL singers of all time and his example was picked up on and pushed forward by his legions of later PROTO-PUNK, PUNK ROCK, POST PUNK, HARDCORE and ALTERNATIVE ROCK acolytes including that of most notably IGGY POP (THE STOOGES), ALICE COOPER, PATTI SMITH, DARBY CRASH (THE GERMS), IAN CURTIS (JOY DIVISION), DAVE GAHAN (DEPECHE MODE), KURT COBAIN (NIRVANA), IAN MCCULLOCH (ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN), PERRY FARRELL (JANE'S ADDICTION), ROBERT SMITH (THE CURE), MARK LANEGAN (SCREAMING TREES), IAN ASTBURY (THE CULT), NICK CAVE (THE BIRTHDAY PARTY) and ANTON NEWCOMBE (THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE) among countless others. at this stage more than half a century later, his influence on AMERICAN culture is undeniable and self-evident. his CHARISMATIC, MYSTICAL example is irreparably baked into the very notion of being a ROCK AND ROLL star. what has been reevaluated in scholarly circles in the years since his passing is the literary quality of his POETRY and the relative OUTALNDISHNESS of his LOUTISH behavior. for example JOHN LENNON of THE BEATLES is recognized as one of the great songwriters (if not the greatest) of the 20th century while at the same time treated women poorly and was a TERRIBLE, absentee father to his first son. both things are true. so such are the modern evaluative critical fault lines with JIM MORRISON.
the recent documentary JIM MORRISON: THE WILD CHILD (ENTERTAIN ME PRODUCTIONS, 2019) seems to want it both ways, presenting him at times as both ADONIS and ICARUS. there are only a handful of no-name experts of DUBIOUS quality rendering their opinion and no peers or later acolytes rounding out the critical evaluation. at times it seems they cant decide whether this film is a HAGIOGRAPHY or a critical take down of his legacy. i'm game for it either way, but it just felt HALF-BAKED in the end and i felt at the very least THE LIZARD KING deserved a COGENT argument for or against. the guy was COMPLICATED but not that hard to discern and construct a COHERENT narrative around.
this documentary left me disappointed and i would recommend fans of THE DOORS, CLASSIC ROCK and all things JIM MORRISON to seek information elsewhere as this documentary has all the markings of a CHEAP cash grab. people are STRANGE, indeed.
parodies by nacrowe
check out HERE this recent streaming video episode of DEER GOD RADIO focused on the post-BRITISH INVASION stateside radio format of CLASSIC ROCK!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO are available here at the DEER GOD website as well as in the MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC archives.
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photo & text by nacrowe
i remember around the turn of the millennium attending BOARDING SCHOOL away from my parents, who were stationed in NIGERIA at the time. i was in my mid-teens and it was quite the transition to not only be away from your family, but halfway around the world so. feeling ISOLATED in a bad situation where i was being HAZED upon routinely by upperclassmen and away from any support network was the context from which i discovered and experienced STRANGE DAYS (ELEKTRA, 1967) by THE DOORS within.
sonically the album is almost FELLINI-esque with its swirling organ phrases, specifically on tracks like "STRANGE DAYS," "UNHAPPY GIRL," "PEOPLE ARE STRANGE," "I CAN'T SEE YOUR FACE IN MY MIND," and "WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER." lyrically the album references themes of ALIENATION, SOCIAL/PSYCHIC ISOLATION and UNREQUITED LOVE. i know that for many their teenage experience was not pleasant, but my time in BOARDING SCHOOL was spent avoiding punishment by bored hockey players who saw my painted fingernails, dyed hair and NINE INCH NAILS shirts as target enough for their attention. and the adults just looked the other way. i got out unscathed but others didnt (linked HERE is an example that happened at another dorm during my time at the school). maybe that punishing and unforgiving atmosphere is why i read so much into JIM MORRISON's lyrics at the time. they seemed to revolve around the FUTILITY of trusting authority figures.
i believe high school is also a transformational period where you become aware of your body and your connection to other people. being shy and reserved by nature, i dont believe BOARDING SCHOOL did my any favors in figuring out how i related to the opposite sex. it was a beyond daunting and unreasonable ask to attempt to make connections with people of such PRIVILEGE, WEALTH and POWER. it was an ALIENATING and ultimately a TRAUMATIZING experience. to that end "YOU'RE LOST LITTLE GIRL" is another standout track that i deeply identified with, especially since it had this understated introductory guitar line that seamlessly transforms into a haunting layered organ figure, seemingly mimicking the UNREQUITED LOVE of a misunderstood female protagonist. to my ear at the time, it also was a sonic evocation of my emotionally battered sense of ISOLATION and growing inward trajectory based on living in HUMILIATION. BOARDING SCHOOL was a hostile situation and later attending high school in KUWAIT was even worse.
STRANGE DAYS is easily my favorite DOORS album and one that i constantly revisit since it is inextricably linked to this difficult period of youth. i feel it is an underrated achievement in MOOD and SONG CONSTRUCTION. there is a HAUNTING BEAUTY maintained throughout that is unique in their catalogue. as mentioned before, it was also the soundtrack to some of my darkest moments as a young adult.
it is most definitely worthy of revisiting.
photo & text by nacrowe
L.A. WOMAN (ELEKTRA, 1971) by THE DOORS is one of those quintessential albums that in essence culturally defines the complex seductive allure and devastating depravity that is the city of angels in the hearts and minds of many. the two standout tracks in that regard are the title track "L.A. WOMAN" and "RIDERS ON THE STORM."
the beauty of "L.A. WOMAN" is how JIM MORRISON personifies the city in that of a young female. there has always been this duality about living in LOS ANGELES whereby you are confronted with the end result of the hopes and dreams of people seeking to make it in the entertainment industry are met with the reality of failure. the optimism and delusional thinking of the daytime and the cruel, stark reality of lonely night-time reflection has been a trope utilized since noir films of the 1940s and 1950s to describe LOS ANGELES, and MORRISON does the same here in "L.A. WOMAN" when he asks "are you a lucky little lady in the city of light, Or just another lost angel, city of night." in MORRISON's hands, LOS ANGELES as a woman is fundamentally a false hope as her optimism and future hope leads to "motel money murder madness, Let's change the mood from glad to sadness." for me, that strange duality of hope and delusion, allure and depravity, camaraderie and jealousy is something that is intrinsically LOS ANGELES and very clearly showcased in this song specifically.
"RIDERS ON THE STORM" and its existential tale of a murder in the desert find THE DOORS at their experimental peak in terms of sonic and lyrical exploration. slow and prodding, it feels like a lonely car ride through a desert with a sublime storm on the horizon making one reconsider their life's path with existential dread. is the storm coming to wash away the world or its sins. hard to tell. again for me this song is also very much about LOS ANGELES, especially the experience of driving through the desert towards neighboring NEVADA or ARIZONA where it feels like civilization has been pulled back leaving you with a raw, harsh, almost elemental landscape devoid of people or responsibility, bother personal and moral. driving there is almost like being in a state of moral flux, where the rules dont matter. its a great metaphor for the city itself, which seems to thrive on an OUROBOROS-like ability to auto-cannibalize on itself, eating its inhabitants, spitting them out on its streets as disfigured and degraded versions of themselves. only to be met with new faces on a daily basis. the family murder on the road in "RIDERS ON THE STORM" always felt to me evocative of the then-recent TATE-LABIANCA murders by CHARLES MANSON and his followers, turning the idea of spiritual connection, hope and shared familiar affection on its head. what was beautiful about AMERICAN optimism (perennially evoked in the cultural image of LOS ANGELES) was now baseless physical cruelty and moral degradation. its a great song.
i have long been a fan of those two songs, which make L.A. WOMAN well worth revisiting and checking out again.