In #TheMusicThatMadeUs, senior journalist Lakshmi Govindrajan Javeri talks about the impact musicians and their art have on our lives, how they are shaping the industry by rewriting its rules and how they make us the people we become: their greatest heritage.
Fifty years ago, The Doors released LA Woman in April 1971, a flagship album that saw the band return to their blues roots, stripped of the heavy orchestration of their previous album The Soft Parade. It was also the last album to be released during the lifetime of frontman Jim Morrison, who tragically died three months later.
Half a century later, the band are set to release a deluxe 50th anniversary issue of the album on December 3 to mark Morrison’s occasion and birthday a few days later. The reissue will include the original remastered album as well as two hours of unreleased sessions that allow the group to refine an album that has sold over 2 million copies.
Why Wife really important as an album in The Doors discography is because it continued with Morrison Hotelblues rock music and re-established Jim Morrison as an original and hugely influential singer-songwriter. The year 1969 was riddled with run-ins between Morrison and the police for profanity and obscenity, culminating in his ban on visiting places and his unofficial treatment as persona non grata. He’s still the same wild child in LA Woman, but there’s an undeniable gravity to his songwriting and sonorous singing; the person we all fell in love with and the man who defined what it is to be a true rockstar.
Think of the word “rockstar” and you’ll immediately find yourself thinking of a Jim Morrison prototype: black leather pants and / or jackets, wild demeanor, shaggy hair, an air of mystery, the power to hypnotize a crowd, and well. sure, a musical talent that makes us want more. When Mr. Mojo Risin ‘(an anagram he created with his name) was on stage, you were mesmerized by this sultry, dark entity of magnetism using his unmistakable charisma, rich baritone, and poetic writing to keep you going. breath.
Morrison was wild both on and off stage (as evidenced by his many troubles of public indecency), spinning suggestively with his eyes closed as his untamed locks swayed in tandem. It was a voice that sang the loudest to defend the counterculture movement, while his penchant for questioning authority, his fascination with the chaos that reigns under order and his artistic flair for rich poetry, created in him the original bad boy of rock.
Suffice to say that with the arrival of the 60s, thanks to the Beatles and the crusade of the brewing counter-culture, rock n ‘roll had already undergone a major sound transition, often mixed with an intoxicating dose of narcotics. A film student who witnessed a car crash on a Native American reservation had become a most attractive storyteller, endowed with a soothing voice that did not reach high and shrill notes as often as his contemporaries. Her voice alone inspired Eddie Vedder, Iggy Pop, and Layne Staley, each iconic singers in their own right.
As he wrote in a collection of poems The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison I (Wilderness), “Why do I drink?” So that I can write poetry… Forgive me Father because I know what I’m doing / I want to hear the last poem from the last poet. This quick verse which speaks of writing intoxicated with one breath and wedges a famous religious line in another, illustrates how unorthodox his attitude towards literature, music and life itself is.
Morrison’s writings were everywhere, literally and figuratively embodying the best of ’60s psychedelia. Compulsively documenting his every thought and feeling, often in a heightened state of drunkenness, his songs had a poetic quality that transcended a multitude of themes and cultures. Covering mysticism, religion, mortality, love, eroticism, futility, hopelessness, hope and despair, Morrison wrote for everyone, but mostly himself.
He was the original rebel with a cause, one that believed in unlimited self-expression, even at the cost of angering the authorities and society itself.
A look at the biggest hits of The Doors will give you an idea of the liveliness of the writing and the richness of the song delivery in a rock band that, ironically, didn’t have a full-time bassist. “Riders on the Storm”, “Break on Through”, “Touch Me”, “Love me twice”, “When the music is over”, “The end”, “Hello, I love you”, “Caravan Spanish ‘,’ The Unknown Soldier, ” LA Woman ‘… the list is inexhaustible.
“The End” – one of Morrison’s most controversial songs – tackles the idea of the Odipus complex of Greek drama in an almost taboo way. It spawned a whole goth rock genre as Morrison urges you to embrace your inner self by going back to your roots after killing all that is superficial. His use of quintessentially Indian sound is another example of the Doors’ love of oriental influences, their discography teeming with varieties of sitar and veena.
Morrison led The Doors to create their own grammar of rock sound, drawing inspiration from themes and cultures that reeked of the hippie attitude of their leader and fans. His untimely death at the age of 27 threw him into the hapless club of 27 which saw Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin too unwittingly become a party. His end came as abruptly as his career, but left an immeasurable legacy not only in terms of music, but also attitude and spirit. Many musicians of the 60s made a living from their music, but it is the essence of Morrison that permeates the generations and genres of rock.
His grave at Père Lachaise bears the words “Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy”. loosely translated as “true to own mind”. ‘Daimona‘remains widely disputed because it has the connotation of both spirit and demon, from the perspective and understanding of ancient Greek. It wasn’t that Morrison was evil or evil; instead, he was truly possessed by the talent, by the questions, and by the need to seek answers.
Fifty years later, we realize that through his music, he continues to hold the power to possess us.
Senior journalist Lakshmi Govindrajan Javeri has spent a good part of two decades chronicling the arts, culture and lifestyles.