THE EXPLOSIVE JIM MORRISON
by Mike Grant 1968
Jim Morrison lives in exaggerations- the
half stumble and the sloth-like stance on stage, the upturned, pouting
face with eyes clenched
shut, the ponderous but precise speaking voice which is out of the
best Brando mould. James Douglas Morrison, Superstar, Poet, and idol of
America's rising generation, would be a perfect target for the
That apart, he is not as black as he has been painted. Already
by colleagues of Morrison's erratic behaviour to ward the British press
during The Doors' recent and eventful stay here, it did not cool my
any to read, on my way to see Mr. Morrison, his publicist's claim that
he can be civil, polite, even erudite one day; yet gross or, as Jim
"primitive" the next. Which extreme was I about to face?
"He's been quite good today", said his British publicist at Polydor- Elektra Records, with the air of a keeper talking about London Zoo's naughtiest lion. I was ushered into a small room containing The Doors sundry people flitting back and forth with no apparent purpose. Most of them were hovering on the edge of Morrison's conversation and it was Jim, in open-necked shirt and tight black leather jeans, who dominated the room.
Among those present with some purpose were three gentlemen in a Granada Television team filming the whole Doors visit with a rare degree of dedication. A bored-looking Robbie Krieger, Doors' guitar man, was to tell me later that they had even followed one of them to the toilet! Next to Robbie was drummer John Densmore, an active Maharishi student, colourfully attired, who was sitting cross-legged on his chair, saying little and watching the chaos that was supposed to be a press conference. In another corner sat Ray Manzarek with a polite smile on his face and a polite line in answers.
Krieger, hiding behind dark glasses and an uncontrolled growth of beard had some interesting things to say about Morrison in the short interview which came to a sharp end at the sight of a Granada man crawling along the floor and pushing a huge mike up into our faces. A camera was mean while probing the recesses of my left ear.
What of Jim's reported moods? "It depends," said Robbie, "which day of the week you get him. It is just the way he is. I think I understand him as well as anybody through being with him for three years, but I still don't understand him completely."
Morrison certainly knows how to project himself and has an actor's feel for presence. Questions are met by prolonged periods of deep thought accompanied by closed eyes and an intense expression downward. He can often take so long to answer that the poor interviewer finds he's lost track of his precise inquiry. Answers themselves, delivered in a half-stumbling tone reminiscent of Jim's movements on stage, are accompanied by intense glances skyward.
He first wished to extend his praise for the behaviour of the audience during The Doors' two London concerts at the Roundhouse. "They were one of the best audiences we've ever had. Everyone seemed to take it so easy. It was like going back to the roots again and it stimulated us to give a good performance. They were fantastic. That's all I can say. Except that we enjoyed playing at the Roundhouse more than any other date for years."
While on the subject of their stage act, I asked Jim how important the sex angle was. "Sex is just one part of my act. There are a lot of other factors. It is important I guess, but I don't think it is the main thing, although all music is a very nature-based thing. So they can't be separated. But the sex thing has been picked out because it sells papers."
How important were politics in his writing? "I don't think so far politics has been a major theme in my songs. It is there in a few songs, but it is a very minor theme. Politics is people and their interaction with other people, so you cannot really separate it from anything."
I became aware at this point that there was a hint, only a hint, about Morrison that he was reluctant to take himself seriously. The journalist faithfully transcribing Morrison's thoughts to paper would be well advised to glance up from his work for a second- and there you may see just the trace of an inward smile on the handsome countenance. Jim acknowledges that Elvis Presley along with other giants of the era, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, was an early and strong influence on him. He says: "Their influence was due to their music and the fact I heard them at an age when I was kinda ready for an influence."
Jim was courteous enough to me. But a glimpse of what the "primitive" Morrison could be like came out at the questioning of one persistent reporter who asked him first about the comparisons between him and Mick Jagger. "I've always thought comparisons were useless and ugly. It is a short cut to thinking," replied Jim, in what seemed to be too glib an answer to an off-the-cuff comment. He went into deep thought, with eyes closed and down, and finally replied, "Well, how do you see yourself?" The questioner pressed for an answer. More deep thought. "That's a rhetorical answer. You might as well ask me how do I see my left palm."
I asked him if he found the group's followers coming to him to be taught how to live. "I get incredible letters," he replied, "but they teach me how to live rather than me teach them. My fans are intelligent youngsters and very sensitive.
"On a par with Morrison's writing is his stage performance- often described as evil. Jim prefers the term primeval. "I was less theatrical, less artificial when I began," he says, "but now the audiences we play for are much larger and the rooms wider. It's necessary to project more. I think when your a small dot at the end of a large arena, you have to make up for that lack of intimacy with expanded movements."
Syndication International Ltd. 1968