Jim Morrison, Serious Poet?

by David Doody
Image by murdelta, licensed under Creative Commons.
Image by murdelta, licensed under Creative Commons.

Growing up, my mom had serious cred with friends of mine for having palled around with Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, and other Haight-Ashbury (less famous) standards–once, even kicking Jimi Hendrix out of her house when he’d shown up with a friend of hers extremely drunk (or extremely something).

With this history running through my veins, I could never bring myself to take Jim Morrison seriously. He always seemed, in my view, to be trying too hard to force his way into the company of 60s greats. Nothing about him ever felt authentic. (Years later, I’d feel similarly about a rock god of my own generation, Kurt Cobain. That’s a different story for a different time, but real quick, try to imagine starting high school in 1993 and not liking Nirvana all that much.)

So, feeling like his whole persona was a put-on, I could never bring myself to take too seriously the music of The Doors. Don’t get me wrong, I have fond teenage memories in which The Doors provide the soundtrack. (Driving over a bridge, toward an oncoming thunderstorm, while “Riders on the Storm” played loudly on the radio.) But most of those were fueled by something other than the music, something that always seemed necessary in order for The Doors’ music to feel inspiring, to lose its self-consciousness.


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