“I am the Lizard King
I can do anything
I can make the earth stop in its tracks
I made the blue cars go away.”
These are only a few famous words of the late great Jim Morrison. He was the Lizard King. He was a shaman. The Dionysus of the modern world. He was the lead singer for The Doors. And he was a poet.
When the name Jim Morrison is brought up, I think most people think The Doors and probably start thinking of songs like “Light My Fire,” “Hello, I Love You,” or “Riders On The Storm.” While those are great songs, that’s not what I think about when Morrison is brought up.
To me Morrison is a poet. Possibly one of my top five favorite poets of the modern age. I’m not downplaying the greatness of The Doors music and creativity. I can put on their albums and listen for hours on end without getting tired of it. They are incredible. But once you sit down and actually take in the lyrics coming out of Jim’s mouth; once you listen past his amazing vocals and to the words he’s saying, that’s where the poet lies.
I was first introduced to Morrison through The Doors’ drummer John Densmore. I picked up his autobiography, Riders on the Storm, back in high school and was hooked. I wasn’t hooked on Jim then, I was hooked on The Doors. It was my first glance into what made their music as legendary as it is. After that book, I bought other auto/biographies that I could find. Shortly after I read Patricia Kennealy’s book Strange Days – My Life With and Without Jim Morrison. She is “a wife” of Morrison. I won’t get into that right now…too much to get into, haha. But the point is, through these two books and a few others I have lying around, I got a feel for who Jim Morrison was outside of the singing realm.
I needed Jim’s poetry and I got it. I found a copy of the first volume of his “lost writings” called Wilderness. I finished the collection in a day. I may not have known exactly what was going on in the poems, but to be fair I don’t always get a good amount of the poetry I read. Even without “getting” the poems, they spoke beautifully to me. His words have a way of getting under your skin and getting you into your own head to sit and think. I don’t know what I might have been thinking, but it was inspiring. Sound trippy I know…kind of was.
Then I found a copy of the only book of poetry published when he was alive, The Lords and The New Creatures. I devoured that book as well. As I skim through it now, I see that I started to underline some great lines here and there…then it looks like I stopped. I think I was too in to the book to continue. That’s always a good sign to me.
I finally found a cheap copy of The American Night, the second volume of Morrison’s writing. I’ve read a good amount already and I’m loving it, like I knew. What was a welcomed surprise was the inclusion of some of the more poetic song lyrics The Doors put out. One is The Soft Parade. This is one of, or is my, favorite song from The Doors. Jim’s voice is so commanding from the beginning, and then the song goes through some very diverse changes throughout it’s entirety. Taking away the musical accompaniment and just reading the lyrics was more eye-opening than I thought. There is even more being said that I first thought. If you do anything after reading this post, go read some of his/The Doors song lyrics.
“Is everybody in?
Is everybody in?
Is everybody in?
The ceremony is about to begin.”
Psst….if that sounded like mindless babble, maybe it was. If not…maybe you are ready to read Morrison’s poetry