I’d shudder to call myself a poet. My schooling was far from good and I’ve not studied poetry in any official capacity. You could fill a bible with what I don’t know about it.
Hell, I don’t even know what the difference is between a proper poet and just some guy who writes bad poems down. Maybe anyone who writes a poem is a poet?
But lying buried in a kryptonite cupboard, at the end of a dusty unlit corridor in the bowels of my subconcious, there’s an idea of what a proper poet ought to be. And there’s an idea of what sort of poets and poetry you ought to say you’re into if you want to be taken seriously among proper poets.
Jim Morrison is not one of those poets.
Yet I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t an inspiration for me picking up a pen and scrawling my first poetry down a good 25 years ago. Back before I fell victim to the capitalist draft. Before my poetry was forced to hide out in the Canadian mountains until it was safe to come back across the border again.
I first encountered Mr. Morrison’s bass caramel tones on the radio and pub jukeboxes in the 80s. I was aware of The Doors and always found their music appealing. Then came the Oliver Stone film that was entertaining as hell, but seemed dead-set on painting him as some kind of maladjusted nihilistic court jester who dedicated his life to trolling people for the heck of it.
Luckily the real Jim speaks through the words and I’ve come to see him in a different light since then. I think there was definitely a certain Dionysian death trip aspect to his fame, and it’s hard to say which came first. Either way I think he did plenty to help that along. But that wasn’t all there was to him. I’ve heard him speak since and been blown away by his intellect and the wise old head he had on his shoulders at such a young age. I’d like to hear what he had to say were he alive today. And maybe I’d be disappointed. Live fast, die young, leave some good looking quotes.
“The hippie lifestyle is really a middle class phenomenon, and it could not exist in any other society except ours, in which there’s such an incredible surfeit of goods, products and leisure time.”
In his poems(and I include The Doors songs in that) there’s a cheeky dance between wordplay and philosophy that always sucks me right in. I can’t say it’s original because I don’t know that it is; but he had his own personal street lexicon which he wielded to dissect things and reframe them in cool and alluring ways. I’ve not heard anyone else do that the way Jim did it.
His mischievous laconic lines get my attention. Then I listen to what he actually has to say.
Without further to do, here’s one example that I stumbled on again today. I just adore the wording. It comes from his solo American Prayer album where Jim narrated some of his poetry to music. Here he talks about death against the sobering backdrop of Albinoni’s Adagio.
I give you Mr. Mojo Risin: