Tag Archives: Ray Manzarek

A MOUTHFUL OF PENNIES PRESENTS: OCTOBER CREEP

ENTER DEATH’S WAITING ROOM, IF YOU DARE…

Hello All,

I’ve got a few treats here for you today to help you creep into the Halloween spirit!

  • First up, there’s quite a MixTape—October Creep—mostly pulled together from various soundtracks and other odds & ends. Now, it’s certainly not the type of mix your going to bump on regular rotation but give it a whirl and I’m sure it’ll give you the appropriate amount of heebie-jeebies this month demands. Oh, and I highly recommend watching the flicks these songs were featured in! They are definitely some of the best films of the horror genre.
  • Up next is both the “book trailer” my friend Rich Stambolian and I put together, and the review I wrote for Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist. This novel and the subsequent ones in the series truly are some of the greatest and smartest horror stories I have read in quite some time. So be sure to check it out.
  • And to conclude, I present a short story—All’s Hollow—which I wrote last Halloween for my own amusement. I hope you enjoy, so scroll on down to the end, and as always,

—Enjoy yourself!

Happy Halloween!

October Creep

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A Mouthful Of Pennies Presents:

OCTOBER CREEP

• “The Horror, The Horror” Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando)

Ghosts 11Nine Inch Nails

Zombi (The Living Dead’s Voices!) – Goblin

“As You Walk In Forever” – Charles Manson

Halloween II Theme – John Carpenter & Alan Howarth

Guest Room – Priestbird

Horrorscope – Ralph Lundsten And The Andromeda All Stars

Suspiria – Goblin

The Lords Theme – John 5 & Griffin Boice

A Suite For Strings – Bernard Herrmann

The Purpose Of Existence Is? – Ray Manzarek

Walk Me Home -  Memory Tapes

Walk Me HomeMemory Tapes

Hellraiser – Christopher Young

“The Man in the Black Coat Had…” (The Graveyard Book) – Neil Gaiman

BabyDamaged Tape

• “Look Out There’s A Monster Coming” – The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band

The Pink Room – David Lynch & Fox Bat Strategy

Poltergeist Theme Song-Carol AnneJerry Goldsmith

Ai Margini Della Follia – Goblin

•  “…They’re All Messed Up” – Night of The Living Dead

“The House of Pain” – The Island of Doctor Moreau

Cherchez La Ghost – El Michels Affair

The Isle of Blood: chapt. 7 (The Monstrumologist #3) – Rick Yancey

The Curse of Margaret Morgan – John 5 & Griffin Boice

Cannibal Hunt – Damaged Tape

“Every Time I Met Him He Was Somebody Else” – Charles Manson (portrait by Joe Colemen, 1988).

Man That You Fear – Marilyn Manson

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Yancey, Rick. The Monstrumologist. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2009. 448 p. $17.99. 978-1-4169-8448-1

“Of Wolves & Worms: a review of Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist”

Tiger, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

While never explicitly stated, the sentiments behind the above quotation from the concluding stanza of William Blake’s 1794 Poem “The Tyger” run central to the elements of true terror in Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist. This “young adult” novel seamlessly knits the ominous tones of American gothic authors such as H. P. Lovecraft and Flannery O’Connor with the grotesque visuals of modern horror cinema. Despite the fact that graphic descriptions of the blood-and-guts variety are featured prominently throughout this book, these details are not given for the purpose of mere sensationalism. Through his apparent dexterity of craft when concerning the English language and narrative forms, Yancey has written a carefully constructed story of intellectual horror.

“These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me…and the one who cursed me.”

These opening statements of protagonist Will Henry’s memoir sets a macabre mood that is subsequently maintained by the horrific events that occur throughout the novel. The details concerning a fire serves as a tragic, if subtle mystery in regards to the reader’s grasp upon the two main characters’ histories and the dynamic of their relationship; this fire has left young Will Henry an orphan now in the care of Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, under who he toils as an assistant. Dr. Warthrop, whose vocation provides the novel with its title, is an exacting man who is fanatically dedicated to his scientific pursuits, although, these investigations tend to be a bit more esoteric than those commonly associated with the average scientist. His discipline is in monstrumology: a supposed turn of the century field of study that today would likely be labeled cryptozoology.

This tale is set in 1888 within a New England city (where, as anyone who has visited Massachusetts, or Maine knows that a story of horror such as this must take place) called New Jerusalem. This is a city whose hours seem to perpetually alternate between dusk and the dead of night. In fact it is late one night that the adventure begins as a withered grave robber arrives at the Doctor’s door with a horrific discovery he has made while performing the duties of his ghoulish profession. The recently buried corpse of a young woman is hauled into Dr. Warthrop’s basement laboratory. Dead, but still clutching this cadaver with barbed fingernails is a monstrous creature with no head, a black lidless eye upon each muscular shoulder, and row upon row of sharp teeth set within a rictus that gapes open at its abdomen. This creature is Anthropophagi: a man-eater.

The awful unearthing of this beast is made worse by evidence that it was in the process of breeding as it choked to death upon a pearl necklace that adorned the young woman’s body as he devoured her flesh. These monsters are granted a certain depth through the author’s use of both literary and historical references to their existence by presenting quotations from Shakespeare, Herodotus, and Sir Walter Raleigh. It soon becomes apparent that New Jerusalem is to endure an infestation of these monstrous carnivores.

Yancey’s settings create as much tension as his monsters do. One particularly disturbing scene takes place within the oppressive confines of a mental institution, where Warthrop and his assistant investigate how the Anthropophagi—indigenous to West Africa—have come to arrive on the shores of the New World. The account of their journey reads like a thrilling novella of all its own, and is reminiscent to Bram Stoker’s portrayal of Dracula’s voyage by ship from the Carpathian Mountains to the coast of England; although, in terms of language, Yancey accomplishes this with a bit more brute force. The Novel’s climax situated within New Jerusalem’s cemetery is equally powerful and unsettling.

The author’s narrative techniques are a sophisticated element that ultimately keeps the reader tethered to these pages until their conclusion. Through the eyes of a modern writer (which, I assume to be Yancey himself) we are reading the memoirs of a man who purportedly died at one hundred and thirty-one years old, who is recounting his life at the age of twelve. These narrative layers add a texture to the work that serves to lure in the reader, just as Joseph Conrad had accomplished with Heart of Darkness.

The Science of monstrumology is presented along with other methods of critical thinking and scientific disciplines that were emerging around the turn of the century, such as the works of Nietzche and the study of eugenics. The callous outlooks often associated with these theories are presented through Dr. John Kearns, the monster-hunter who declares: “The only truth is the truth of the now;” “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so;” and “There is no morality […] but the morality of the moment.”  In fact, it is this scientific approach to the villains that makes this a truly engaging book. Dr. Warthrop and his colleague Kearns consider these man-eaters to be just as monstrous as wolves and worms. They are simply part of the natural order of things. In terms of the predator/prey dynamic Homo sapiens just happen to fall under the rubric of the latter when concerning the Anthropophagi. Mature in its conceits, this book becomes all the more terrifying when the reader comprehends just how plausible these “monsters” truly are. As Kearns states, “ We do work ourselves into a tizzy about creatures like the Anthropophagi, but the world is chock-full of things that want to eat us.”

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ALL’S HOLLOW

 

The downpour had gone on for hours. As the afternoon lumbered on into evening and then further on into night, however, the storm had dwindled down to a steady drizzle, which served as a relentlessly irritating and tactile traveling companion to the bitter cold front that had suddenly swept through the city. That morning—after three pleasant weeks of abnormally warm weather—the temperature had abruptly plummeted. Terrence and Martin had both been waiting an inordinate amount of time for the bus—stepping side-to-side with the other damp commuters trying to get home but trapped by circumstance in the long line, moaning under tongue or sighing through the nostrils, periodically peering over their shoulders through wet, frizzy hair, down the long block in frustrated anticipation. More minutes passed. More minutes passed. More minutes passed. Each exhale was visible as a condensed mist, which made the curbside line resemble some human locomotive coming to rest at a train yard.

More minutes passed.

        When the bus finally arrived with an asthmatic whistle and dusty whine of the brakes, everyone shuffled forward and boarded one-by-one. Terrence could feel the itch of violence in his brain as the diminutive Guyanese woman in front of him paid the fare with a methodical toss of individual nickels and dimes fished out from the deep pockets of her blue raincoat. The diamond stud of her nose-ring glistened as she watched the final two coins slowly roll from her palm into the slot. Terrence and Martin squeezed their way to the back, past the obstacle course tangle of jagged umbrellas, obnoxiously large bags, and sodden people who would not move. The bus was redolent of wet, longhaired dogs and steamed broccoli-infused flatulence. They took the only two vacant seats, which faced each other.

Once it seemed that the bus was full and ready to go, they sat idling at the curbside. The driver emerged from the crowd at the back of the bus and inserted a key into the panel that operates the lift designed for wheelchair access. Many of the passengers permitted a plaintive “Shit! You gotta be kiddin’ me?” to resound within the polite confines of their minds, but not Terrence. He said it aloud. Other than a chuckle from Martin, no one reacted.

The hydraulic lift delivered an obese woman in her mid-forties. She had sweat and rainwater dripping as one solution from her short, sandy hair, rolling past her temples and down the curve of her ballooned cheeks. Dark stains where sweat had saturated the salmon colored fabric of her blouse adumbrated her fat breasts. Dragging her aluminum walker over to the three—now vacant—priority seats left her gasping for oxygen. The blue, plastic seats gave a creak of complaint beneath her girth. With a look of slack-jawed bewilderment and disdain Terrence turned to Martin, who was preoccupied with rearranging the sideswipe of his black bangs.

“Y’know Marty, this fuckin’ city…all it takes to totally ruin public transportation is a little bit of rain and fuckin’ fat people.”

Martin sucked his lips inward and raised his eyebrows, glancing over at the subject matter. She did not seem to notice.

        “Can you imagine,” Terrence continued with a grin, “what a man could do with an army of the obese?” He envisioned himself astride a black stallion with the cruel posture of some conquering Hannibal. Before the hooves of his steed, whip-driven hordes of corpulent soldiers with identical down-syndrome faces and imperial Roman armor waddled forward through a burning landscape.

Terrence laughed to himself as Martin said, “The entire campaign would have to be fueled on the promise of more sausages. A nitrate war!”

“Yeah, isn’t there some saying about how more important than any general in the army is the cook?”

Martin giggled out, “Isn’t that from a Steven Seagal flick?”

With a sudden jerk the bus lurched into traffic. The subject changed and they spoke idly of what programs they had watched on television the evening prior.

“…and then that pituitary retard goes back out with her…”

“…no idea why I still watch it. It’s like the eighth season and it’s terrible…”

“…she’s pregnant with a monster, so the black guy with the hammer…”

“…then he says, ‘I just work here, now let’s warm those bones of yours…”

“…hahahahahahahahah…hahahaha…hahaha…”

Eventually they arrived at Terrence’s stop where they said goodbye with a finger-snapping pound.

“Aight, see you tomorrow,” Martin said as he fished through his bookbag for a magazine that detailed the newest releases in electronic entertainment.

        Terrence maneuvered awkwardly through the crowd to the stiff air-assisted doors. They slapped closed behind him as he hopped to the curb. Tightening the collar of his jacket against his nape in a futile attempt to ward off the cold and slow-descending haze, Terrence walked off through the wet, empty streets. They were hedged in on either side by brick row houses and community drives; the vapor overhead alternately lit by the red, green, yellow of traffic lights changing within their set routine—locked in an obstinate cycle of transformation which paid no regard to the uselessness of their own color-coded symbols along this desolate avenue.

After several blocks Terrence decided that he should stop to pick up a boil bag of ramen noodles to eat for dinner, as he knew that—other than an assortment of condiments, a wilted bag of lettuce, and an outpost for a burgeoning mold colony—the shelves of his refrigerator were bare. He turned left at the next corner and walked uphill. After turning down two more blocks he arrived at a bodega that was cattycornered off the street in an old stone building that seemed as if it had once been a bank or perhaps a movie theater, but now had been sectioned off and sold to comprise this corner store deli, a locksmith, a Korean nail salon, and a business whose primary means of income was creating t-shirts for children’s sports teams.

As Terrence pushed the door a small bell tinkled to announce his arrival. He dragged his feet across the mat and ran his fingernails along his scalp, through the wet kinks of his short blonde hair. He stepped forward into the seemingly empty store, and that little urgent voice that inhabits our nerve endings and pulls strings within our intestines, vertebrae, and the muscles of our jaws screamed for Terrence to get out, turn around, run! It was not that Terrence did not notice. However, as there was no reason, this shiver of instinct was not allowed to register. The modern world had reduced that voice—which once ruled us like  lightning—into a polite if uneasy guest attempting to get a word in to a busy host.

There was no one behind the counter, atop which sat a solitary pack of Newport cigarettes and a white book of matches. He walked down the aisle where he knew he could find the plastic packages of dehydrated sodium he planned on having for dinner. There was a whisper, followed by a whimper. At this point (with little intellectual recognition but a flicker of the hypothalamus and an ensuing spasm and squeeze of his sympathetic nervous system and adrenal-cortical system) Terrence turned on his heels and began to walk swiftly back down the aisle, past the pale and wilted vegetables, towards the exit.

“…fuck you goin’, muthafucka?”

        With nervous civility, Terrence turned to ask, “Excuse me?” He was staring down the barrel of a shotgun. It was a 12 gauge from Mossberg’s 500 series. Terrence did not know this. Nor did he truly observe the figure pointing it his way: other than the caramel complexion around the wide eyes, the facial features were obscured below a black hood and a paisley patterned blue bandana; the tall frame rendered somewhat shapeless by a dark-grey trench coat stained with ash, mud, and rain; black, leather gloves gripped the shotgun. All Terrence did know was that a big gun was aimed at his face.

Slowly, Terrence stepped backwards—inch-by-inch. His palms raised, the mechanisms of his jaw worked with determined, but imbecilic repetition: open, close, open, and close. No words were formed: only a low and broken yammering. Coming around the corner of the aisle, from behind soft blue and green packages of sanitary pads, a small man stepped up to Terrence and abruptly slapped him across the face. Terrence was nothing more than a rigid doll when this assailant gripped the two halves of his open collar and yanked him towards his partner with the shotgun.

“Getch yer ass over there, whiteboy!” Although the small man’s grey complexion was certainly much paler than his own, Terrence could not at that moment find any humor in this irony, nor a point worth investigating dialectically. With a voice that was muffled beneath the bandana, the man with the shotgun ordered the other to “go get more duct tape.” Before the small man disappeared down the aisle he slammed a knife flat on the counter alongside the pack of Newports. The blade was a dull slate-grey. Terrence’s face stung and there was a red welt swelling over his pale, freckled cheek.

“Let’s go, Barney Rubble.” Palming Terrence’s nape with his free hand, the man with the shotgun marched him towards the rear of the store. Urged forward, Terrence focused on each clomp-clomp of the man’s brown Timberland boots against the uneven linoleum tiles. The bandana about this man’s mouth had grown moist from breath, and he appeared rather uncomfortable as he wiped sweat from his eye with the back of his glove.

At the rear wall, someone was slumped in the corner between a red plastic rack containing various greeting cards and a glass-front fridge stocked with forty ounce bottles of malt liquor. Terrence recognized the slim, huddled figure as the Bangladeshi man who worked there. He looked up from under his blue turban with sodden eyes, his crooked, nicotine stained teeth jutting outwards as he gasped with anxiety. He appeared to have been beaten somewhat, as there was a trace film of blood and snot about a nostril as well as speckled on the black, curled whiskers of his thick beard and his teal polo shirt. Bound at the wrists with grey duct tape, he pressed his balled hands against his own ribs and sobbed, “please.”

Terrence averted his eyes and focused in on one of the greeting cards. It featured a cartoon bear in blue, denim overalls clutching a tangle of colorful balloons. The word bubble above its round, fluffy head read “I’m sorry that you’re not feeling well right now.” Just as the small man announced his return with the sharp, rupture sound of tape being peeled from the roll, Terrence was shoved to the floor alongside the employee. To others, Terrence had always referred to this man—or, for that matter, anyone who happened to be manning the store at any particular time—as his mugabi-guy; as in, “I went to my mugabi-guy for a cup of coffee this morning.” Under the menacing eyes of the man with the shotgun, the small man bent low and wound the tape violently about Terrence’s wrists and forearms. Terrence noticed that this small man’s limbs and fingers had a slight twitch to their movements, reminiscent of an insect’s. This likeness was particularly so when he occasionally swiped with a crooked index finger at the thin, disparate hairs of his moustache, which did little to conceal the scar that formed after enduring corrective surgery on a harelip.

“Aight,” the taller man spoke in his muffled tone, “let’s put these niggas in the basement, finish up ‘n’ get the fuck up outta here!”

        At this, the employee began to bellow and plead, “Please, no! No, please! Don’t put me in the basement! Don’t lock me in there! Please!” This plea’s rapid delivery, compounded by spittle and the odd angles his dense accent imposed upon the syllables, made one pause briefly before comprehension. He was panicked and attempted to scramble to his feet. For this he received the small man’s shell-toe between his ribs. He coughed, doubled over, and wheezed for breath. He continued with his entreaty, however, but now with only a shudder and a rolling whimper. Duct tape was placed over the employee’s mouth before the man with the shotgun hauled him up by the elbow while barking “Get up! Le’s go Papa Smurf!”

The small man opened the thick metal door that led to the basement and with a spastic wave of his hand motioned for Terrence to go down the steps. Terrence obliged, his head hung low and slick with perspiration. Behind him, the employee had to be dragged. He was flailing wildly and pawing desperately with sweaty palms at the wooden banister. Despite his mouth being sealed over, you still knew what his stifled, rough guttural moans concerned.

As he wiggled desperately under his captor’s grip, they both slipped. The man with the shotgun’s heel skidded and bounced off the edge of two steps before they both bowled forward and landed in a heap on the solid floor. Terrence slid down and remained still, pressing his back against the cold, cement wall of the basement.

It was dark down there; too dark to even begin to guess the room’s dimensions. The only light was that which descended from the open door above, and that served to illuminate the narrow steps and the desperate scene being enacted at their bottom and no more. Terrence was aware of the small man’s silhouette above as he shouted, “Yo D, you aight?” However, Terrence could not look away from the two men crouched before him at the cast light’s edge, where its periphery dissipated into the black: one, pleading with his hands raised, tears and saliva beginning to undo the adhesive gag; the other, rising, the bandana pulled free to reveal high cheekbones chiseled down to a scowling mouth, thick lips twisted with anger.

Sweeping his hands blindly along the floor, “D” retrieved his shotgun, raised the barrel high and slammed the thick butt into the forehead of the mewling supplicant at his knees. The employee’s neck and torso twisted hard before he slumped back with a wet smack to the floor. D paused, glancing over his shoulder into the palpable expanse of negative space. In an instant he whirled back to repeatedly batter the shotgun’s butt down against the prostrate employee’s skull. Each thrust was accompanied with a heaving grunt as viscous fluids splattered along the shotgun’s stock and across the cold ground.

Terrence could hear the moment when something solid cracked, splintered, and went wet. Even though that moment had come and gone, the grunts and thrusts continued. Eventually, with a final lunge and cracked growl, D stopped and allowed his arms to fall slack at his sides as his breath collapsed into a pant.

“Yo, D!”

The gunman turned his back to Terrence and appeared to be watching something in the opaque distance.

“D!”

No. He was listening to something.

“D! C’mon nigga!”

        D turned around and calmly walked past Terrence and up the steps with the measured stride of a somnambulist. His eyes did not once flit in Terrence’s direction; nor did they seem to even notice the broken mess sprawled at the bottom of the stairs, spilling out within the shadows. Above, the door slammed, followed by the abrupt, metallic click of the lock.

Abandoned in the dark, Terrence sighed with a spasm to the muscles of his abdomen. His lungs felt constricted by his ribcage. Attempting to swallow the lump in his throat, he tasted the salt of his own tears, which rolled liberally from his blind eyes. Unaccompanied by the typical theatrics of weeping, Terrence was crying without making a sound, without moving a muscle. He felt cold.

Terrence heard something in the distance. A whisper? There was a clatter, as if a block of wood had been rolled along the floor at some far end of the room. Another whisper. Hushed and distorted through cracked static…a reply. Pointlessly, Terrence pressed his spine harder to the wall, as if there were a way through—a place safe.

He heard the clomp-clomp of heavy boots approaching, but they ceased inexplicably. No; they didn’t so much stop as they faded. Something lightly fingered at his ankle; or to be more precise, nothing lightly fingered at his ankle, for when he swatted down his bound limbs made contact only with the chilled slab of a concrete floor. Faint voices broken by a hiss. A nauseating gurgle, like a large cat gagging on a broken television. Inside, he felt cold; inside, he felt hollow.

With the brief, sharp jangle of a bell, the two thieves stepped to the sidewalk and began to walk briskly up the block. Although the drizzle still fell as an aimless haze, the cool, night air was welcomed. The small man swung a black, thirty-gallon trash bag over his shoulder as his little legs jerked forward towards their parked car—orange rust creeping up from around the wheel wells.  The bag was entirely too big for the little that it held.

As he pulled the keys from the pocket of his loose, wrinkled jeans, the small man noticed a young couple passing across the street. The woman was dressed as a slutty Little Red Riding Hood: her red-checked skirt ending abruptly to reveal the pink of thick, goose-pimpled thighs; knees peeking out from white nylons, which descended into little black shoes; her breasts ludicrously pressed up towards her chin. From her gait you could tell both that she had more than a few drinks and that her feet hurt. The man beside her was draped in a loose-fitting approximation of a foppish pirate. His oversized tri-cornered hat, warped with rainwater, sagged over the black patch that covered his right eye. Huddled within each other’s arms, they continued down the street engaged in drunken flirtation.

It took the police two weeks to tie the missing person’s report with the young man seen being accosted on the bodega’s security camera. However, as the footage obtained was of poor-quality and set at a limited angle, it provided little in the way of clues as to what had occurred. The body of Zubayer Rahman was discovered the morning of November 1st. His face had been reduced to an unrecognizable, pulpy mass, and there were numerous scratches of various length and depth all along his torso. The whereabouts of Terrence Hughes remain unknown.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

————–(BOBBY CALERO)————

THE JULY 3RD WATER-LOGGED MASSACRE

underwater, it was

immediately strange

& familiar

                                                from Paris Journal by Jim Morrison (1971).

In the early hours of July 3rd, 1969, founding member and celebrated multi-instrumentalist of The Rolling Stones, Brian Jones was found face down at the bottom of the swimming pool at his country house at Cotchford Farm. Located in East Sussex—about an hour’s drive from London—Cotchford Farm had once been owned by A.A. Milne who was inspired by the surrounding environs to create Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, and their various friends’ adventures in the “Hundred Acre Wood” (and in this fact I’m sure lies the basis for a fun, psychedelic cartoon).

His body found by Janet Lawson, a 26-year-old nurse who was then dating The Rolling Stones’ tour manager Tom Keylock, and Jones’ girlfriend, Anna Wohlin, whether Brian Jones’ death was the result of murder committed by Frank Thorogood—a forty-three-year-old builder contracted to do work on the grounds but whose role had grown to a be a sort of “minder” for the unraveling Jones (Jones, 2008)—or was truly “death by misadventure” as the coroner’s official verdict stated will likely remain a rock ‘n’ roll mystery.

The last known photographs of Jones, taken by schoolgirl Helen Spittal on 23 June 1969, shortly after his departure from the Stones.

(Lewis) Brian (Hopkins) Jones was twenty-seven-years-old at the time of his death in 1969 and had only a month prior been asked to leave The Rolling Stones. On June 8, 1969, Jones was visited by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts, and was told that the group that he had formed and named back in 1962 would now continue on without him. Permitted to announce the news as he saw fit, Jones issued a statement the next day announcing his departure, stating, “I no longer see eye-to-eye with the others over the discs we are cutting” (Wyman, 2002).

Brian Jones’ last picture with The Rolling Stones.

Jones’ being kicked out of the group has been seen with more than a critical eye over the years, with many choosing to see this as merely the result of greed and a power grab by “The Glimmer Twins” of Jagger and Richards. However, it needs to be recognized that not only did Jones’ numerous arrests and convictions for narcotics make it impossible for him to acquire a work visa to tour with the group, but that Jones’ excess and addictions had left him often unable—and more so averse—to contributing to the band’s music. It’s all well and good that Keith Richards was a junkie too, but at least he showed up and participated at rehearsals.

Brian Jones—in part because of his flamboyant sartorial style, beautiful boyish good looks, and the mass quantities of drugs and alcohol he would ingest—had been always held up as the figurehead for the group and had come to be celebrated as a Dorian Grey type figure. This, coupled with his skilled musicianship and true love of the blues, served to bridge the gap between London’s occultist dandies and the dirty music of the American south (Hill, 2011). There are many who believe that The Stones’ claim to greatness ended with Jones’ departure, but I (as anyone who’s listened to their double LP of 1972, Exile on Main St.) strongly disagree. However, Brian Jones’ influence and contribution to this group cannot be expressed enough.

Never a songwriter but rather a true musician, Jones had an uncanny ability to pick up any instrument and add that essential and odd element that would distinguish The Stones from every other R&B bar band of the swinging scene of London in the ’60s: think of the sitar on “Paint It Black,” the marimbas on “Under My Thumb,” or the dulcimer on “I Am Waiting.”

Jones’ talent did not only lie in implementing instruments hitherto unknown in the musical lexicon of rock ‘n’ roll, but extended to the flavor he could add with more traditional instruments such as harmonica, guitar, and keyboards. Brian Jones was simply ingenious at creating the proper moods and appropriate atmospheres a song required. He was style, and he was content. For example, consider his bottle-neck guitar on 1968’s Beggars Banquet track, “No Expectations.” Other than Jagger’s pouty-mouthed vocals of lament, it is Jones’ contribution that imbues the song with its thick syrup of loneliness.

The original cover photo for Beggars Banquet (photo by Michael Joseph).

———————————-(CLICK TO LISTEN

Like it? Buy it.

However, by the time of this song’s recording in the summer of 1968 Jones’ enthusiasm for the group had waned and his contributions became less and less. Mick Jagger later stated in a 1995 interview for Rolling Stone “We were sitting around in a circle on the floor, singing and playing, recording with open mikes. That was the last time I remember Brian really being totally involved in something that was really worth doing” (Wenner). In fact, upon being dismissed from the group Jones nearly immediately contacted Mitch Mitchell (drummer for The Jimi Hendrix Experience) about the possibility of beginning a new band together. Jones had recorded with him before (along with Hendrix himself, as well as Traffic guitarist Dave Mason) in a session at Olympic Studios in London with Chas Chandler producing and Eddie Kramer engineering. Held on December 28th 1967, this session was conducted during the initial recording dates for Jimi Hendrix’s masterpiece, Electric Ladyland, before Hendrix moved production to the newly opened Record Plant Studios in New York the following spring.

The alternate cover for 1968’s Electric Ladyland (photo by David Montgomery)

Jones had grown to be quite friendly with Hendrix and his group and had in fact introduced them on stage to the audience at The Monterey Pop Festival held in June of 1967 (effectively introducing Hendrix to America itself, as he had little recognition in the states up until this point—Hendrix cemented his prominence by famously ending his performance by setting his psychedelically painted Fender Stratocaster on fire in what seemed liked some sensual, voodoo ritual).

Brian Jones introduces The Jimi Hendrix Experience to America in 1967 at The Monterey International Pop Music Festival

Despite often being characterized as “over-sensitive” (a disposition that frequently lends itself to acts of manipulation and cruelty) of all the Stones only Brian was adored by the community of musicians, artists, and general audience springing from the counterculture of the ’60s; of all the Stones only Brian was invited to record with their rivals, The Beatles: in mid-May of 1967 playing oboe on “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” and alto sax on “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).”

London, 1968: Brian Jones, Donovan, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Cilla Black, and Paul McCartney.

Yoko Ono, Brian Jones, Julian and John Lennon,1968.

The Jones/Hendrix session would produce only two alternate takes of a single instrumental composition entitled “Little One,” which despite its impressive structure and performance remains unreleased to this day. As the two takes are incredibly similar, with one noticeable difference being Hendrix implementing a slide to his guitar on “take 2,” I have never been able to decide which I enjoy more…and so I present them both to you.

Little One (take 1)

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Little One (take 2)

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Brian Jones – Sitar and percussions

Jimi Hendrix – Guitar

Dave Mason – Bass and sitar

Mitch Mitchell – Drums

Brian Jones & Anita Pallenberg

Jones’ penchant for excess had been exacerbated by his intense romantic affair with Italian-born actress, model, sexpot bombshell, and epicurean, Anita Pallenberg. She has been described as powerful, brilliant, and absolutely mad; all often in the same breath.

Anita Pallenberg as The Black Queen/The Great Tyrant in Roger Vadim’s cult-classic sci-fi film of 1968, Barbarella.

Anita with co-star Jane Fonda in the titular role of Barbarella.

Jones and Anita together were known to over-indulge in narcotics and sex, and often their relationship would delve into dark, sadomasochism.

However, in 1967 while Keith Richards, Jones, and Pallenberg were vacationing together in Morocco, Richards and Pallenberg began an affair after Jones became ill and was checked into a hospital. Eventually Pallenberg left Jones for Richards and the two had a relationship that lasted until 1980 and which resulted in numerous children (as well as accelerated drug abuse). Perhaps as much as boredom and dependency, this betrayal led to Jones’ dissolution from The Rolling Stones. For, as much as “the hippies” advocated a free-love philosophy, it remains a philosophy that is much more difficult to put into practice than it is to place as a slogan on a placard.

Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg, and Keith Richards in 1967.

Jones’ continuing substance abuse led to a fragile state of mental health, marked by paranoia, distraction, and even violent outbursts. Yet, despite all this, as I have said, Jones remained the adored golden-haired child of the ’60’s. Upon Jones’ death numerous songs were performed in his name, Pete Townshend wrote a poem titled A Normal Day for Brian, A Man Who Died Every Day, and in Hyde Park on 5 July 1969, The Rolling Stones performed a free concert in Jones’ honor (as well as to introduce new member and brilliant guitarist, Mick Taylor). Stagehands released hundreds of white butterflies as part of the tribute (many had already suffocated in their crates and so were tossed dead onto the audience) and Jagger read excerpts from Adonais, a poem by Percy Shelley concerning the death of his friend John Keats:

I weep for Adonais -he is dead!

O, weep for Adonais! though our tears

Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!

And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years

To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,

And teach them thine own sorrow, say: “With me

Died Adonais; till the Future dares

Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be

An echo and a light unto eternity!

The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park on 5 July 1969.

Marianne Faithfull

However, it should be noted that Watts and Wyman were the only members of The Rolling Stones who actually attended Jones’ funeral. Neither did Pallenberg attend. Concerning this absence and its effects, Marianne Faithfull has written:

             Brian’s death acted like a slow-motion bomb, It had a

devastating effect on all of us. The dead go away, but

the survivors are damned. Anita went through hell from

survivor’s guilt and guilt plain and simple. She developed

grisly compulsions…Keith’s way of reacting to Brian’s

death was to become Brian. He became the very image of

the falling down, stoned junkie hovering perpetually on the

edge of death. But Keith, being Keith, was made of different

stuff. However he mimicked Brian’s self-destruction, he

never actually disintegrated (Greenfield, 2006).

It is rumored that it was Bob Dylan who paid for Brian Jones’ extravagant casket. Perhaps it was intended as a form of apology? For as Daniel Mark Epstein writes in his highly engaging biography/memoir, “The Ballad of Bob Dylan,” from a passage concerning Dylan’s inclination towards cruel, acerbic words spat at those he viewed as pestering him while he and confidant Bobby Neuwirth held an amphetamine-fueled court (performing “mental gymnastics”) at New York clubs like Max’s Kansas City:

            Brian Jones, the gifted, exquisitely sensitive English guitarist

who founded the Rolling Stones, idolized Bob Dylan. Jones was tiny,

an inch shorter than his hero, blond-haired, blue-eyed, and

androgynous looking, sporting frilly Edwardian blouses and bright

scarves. He was notoriously volatile, needy, and drug dependent.

By and by Neuwirth led him toward the table where the maestro

was holding court.

             Neuwirth welcomed the celebrated multi-instrumentalist who

had taught Mick Jagger how to play harmonica. Dylan bared his teeth.

First of all he declared the Stones were a joke—they could not be taken

seriously. Now everyone could laugh at that, true or not, because the

comment cost nothing, drew no blood. But then he explained to Jones

that he had no talent and that the band, joke that it was, ought to replace

him with someone who could sing. This made Jones unhappy, after all

he had been so happy to see Dylan in the bar. The Englishman swept his

flowing hair out of his eyes, which were tearing up as Dylan went into

detail about Jones’ musical handicaps. Jones began to cry. Now the whole

mob could see his weakness; it was a terrible sight, the flowing locks, the

lacy sleeves, the weeping—just the wrong image for a group called

“The Rolling Stones.” Dylan concluded. He may have been right; Jones

did not seem to be long for the Rolling Stones, or this world, for that matter.

A couple of years later he was found dead at the bottom of a swimming pool.

Some say that Dylan paid for Jones’ lavish coffin (2011).

Brian Jones and Bob Dylan attend a release party for the Young Rascals at the Phone Booth nightclub in New York City in November, 1965. (photo by Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)]

Nearly immediately after Jones’ death (possibly even the day it was reported) lead singer for The Doors, Jim Morrison composed the poem: Ode to L.A. While Thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased:

I’m a resident of a city

They’ve just picked me to play

The Prince of Denmark

Poor Ophelia

All those ghosts he never saw

Floating to doom

On an iron candle

Come back, brave warrior

Do the dive

On another channel

Hot buttered pool

Where’s Marrakech

Under the falls

the wild storm

where savages fell out

in late afternoon

monsters of rhythm

You’ve left your

Nothing

to complete w/

Silence

I hope you went out Smiling

Like a child

Into the cool remnant

of a dream

The angel man

w/ Serpents competing

for his palms

& fingers

Finally claimed

This benevolent

Soul

Ophelia

Leaves, sodden

in silk

Chlorine

dream

mad stifled

Witness

The diving board, the plunge

The pool

You were the bleached

Sun

for TV afternoon

horned-toads

maverick of a yellow spot

Look now to where it’s got

You

in meat heaven

w/ the cannibals

& Jews

The gardener

Found

The body, rampant, Floating

Lucky Stiff

What is this green pale stuff

You’re made of

Poke holes in the goddess

Skin

Will he Stink

Carried heavenward

Thru the halls of music

No chance.

Requiem for a heavy

That smile

That porky satyr’s

leer

has leaped upward

into the loam

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Jim Morrison in the Summer of 1969.

One Jim Morrison’s final notebook from his time in Paris, 1971.

Despite its obvious merits to any literate that would take the time to read it, the poetry of Jim Morrison has always been too casually dismissed. This dismissal mostly comes as a flippant reaction to the audience who have come to embrace Jim Morrison: generally comprised of awkward adolescents and teenagers who believe they are obsessed with death—when in actuality it is sex and a sense of discovery that has strangled their brains. Often, for this group of admirers it’s not even the man Morrison they cling to but the dark image of him, the risk and pleasure he represents. Yet, developing and hormone-addled youth shouldn’t be judged here, nor their easy acceptance of projected iconography that has certainly been marketed towards them; but the adult academics and intellectuals who continue to not only disregard the man’s work, but actually let out a little chuckle of disdain at his mention do deserve a harsh word or two.

To my mind and tastes Jim Morrison was a truly gifted American poet with a distinctive American voice and cadence that should be appreciated and celebrated, as Whitman’s is, as Robert Frost’s is, as Hart Crane’s is.

Again, he is dismissed because he was a rock star, but who could argue that if Rimbaud had come of age during the 1950s and 1960s in the United States that he wouldn’t have pursued the decadence of rock ‘n’ roll as a form of artistic expression before abandoning it all for the world of commerce?

Another factor for the lack of recognition (if not contempt) for Morrison’s writing is the confounding of his lyrics with his poetry. Although the two are not always mutually exclusive, for the most part they remain two different animals. Whereas Morrison might have crooned into your ear that there were “weird scenes inside the goldmine,” within his poems he could go on to meditate on these scenes, and although odd, it’s also all so very familiar:

I have a vision of America

Seen from the air

28,000 ft. and going fast

A one armed man in a Texas

parking labyrinth

A burnt tree like a giant primeval bird

in an empty lot in Fresno

Miles and miles of hotel corridors

& elevators, filled with citizens

                        (circa 1969)

There are certain conventions and limitations placed upon a lyricist that might work splendidly while sung along with the buzz and hum of an electric guitar or the roll of a drum but that nevertheless fall flat or seem simply self-indulgent when read upon the page. With the verse, notes, and fragments of dialogue that he constantly scrawled into the notebooks he always carried, Morrison could drop any “Lizard King” posturing of his rock ‘n’ roll persona and indulge in what he always saw as his true work: poetry.

Freeways are a drama, a new

art form. Signs. Houses.

Faces. Loud gabble of Blacks

at a bus stop.

With lines like these from the ending stanza of his poem The Guided Tour, or others such as “The bus gives you a hard-on/with books in your lap” Morrison was attempting honest artistic communication of a facet of the American experience, and more so the human condition. There are certainly lines of both Morrison’s lyrics and his poetry that come off as silly, but it should be remembered that he was still only a young man in his twenties and searching for his “voice.” This search itself is actually one of the aspects of his work that I find makes it so enjoyable. Additionally, despite the calculated images of a serious young Adonis with a svelte naked torso writhing in tight leather pants across many a teenager’s t-shirt, it should be noted that Morrison could be an incredibly goofy guy. For a more humanistic view of the man than the mystic hedonist that is traditionally depicted, I highly recommend you watch Tom DiCillo’s 2009 documentary When You’re Strange, narrated by Johnny Depp.

The dichotomy presented by the easy access to excess and fun afforded by being a rockstar butting up against a desire to pursue his literary ambitions with a serious, sensitive intelligence had begun to wear on Morrison fairly early into The Doors career. This discord—coupled with his highly addictive personality—led Morrison to begin drinking heavily, wander off, and participate less in the band’s creative/recording sessions; particularly for their third and fourth LPs, 1968’s Waiting for the Sun, and The Soft Parade, released in 1969.

Morrison in the closet of his room at LA’s Chateau Marmont hotel, May 1968, as The Doors were finishing recording sessions for Waiting For The Sun. (photo by Art Kane).

By 1969 Morrison often seemed dissatisfied if not outright bored with The Doors and their music, but had been dissuaded from quitting by the other members. He would go on to state in an interview with CBC Radio, “I’m hung up on the art game, you know? My great joy is to give form to reality. Music is a great release, a great enjoyment to me. Eventually I’d like to write something of great importance. That’s my ambition—to write something worthwhile” (Nester, 2011). His growing lack of interest in the music is occasionally evident in the band’s creative output of the time. This statement is in no way meant to disparage the music of The Doors, as I still believe to this day that together, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger had one of the most singular sounds ever created by a rock band. I’m not even certain they qualify to be labeled as “rock.”

Cinematic in scope and theatrical in presentation, The Doors fluidly merged jazz associated time signatures with Latin rhythms, the primitive stomp and lustful swagger of the blues, and the sinister yet jaunty gait of a vaudevillian circus—the whole sound given flight by extended flourishes of flamenco, surf-rock riffs, and sharp apoplectic convulsions of psychedelia. Inexplicably, this sound could still urge the listener to tap his foot and sing along. Play any album by The Doors and tell me what other group (even those that are attempting to emulate) sounds like this? I suppose the only appropriate genre label for this group would be “weird.” Yes, they were a band of weirdos.

Take for example their performance of “Universal Mind” on the night of July 21st, 1969, where a showtune lament suddenly cascades to take on Mongo Santamaría’s “Afro Blue” (in an arrangement made famous by John Coltrane in 1963):

“Universal Mind” July 21st, 1969

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When at their best, what distinguishes this group’s sound from the majority of their contemporaries is that they not only sound extraordinarily alive and on a journey, but filled with dread at the awesome wonder of being so; the sound of there being “something not quite right.” It is that underlying but persistent sense of creation confronting dread that has bestowed their music with longevity despite (or perhaps as a side-effect of?) our desperate-for-the-next-hit culture. However, by the time The Doors were completing The Soft Parade, it seems Jim Morrison had grown fed up with the band and what the audiences expected of them, frustrated with his literary ambitions, and more so disgusted with both himself and the state of American affairs.

Being drunk is a good disguise.

I drink so I

can talk to assholes.

This includes me.

                        (from As I Look Back).

Could any hell be more

horrible than now

 and real?

                        (from Lament For The Death Of My Cock, 1969)

Do you know we are being led to

slaughters by placid admirals

& that fat slow generals are getting

obscene on young blood

Do you know we are ruled by T.V.

                                                (from An American Prayer, circa 1970)

            On March 1st, 1969 The Doors were scheduled to kick-off of their biggest tour ever by playing the Dinner Key Auditorium in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami. Morrison had spent the week prior regularly attending performances by The Living Theater in California. These performances were meant to challenge conventional notions on love, decency, morality, and freedom of expression, and featured scantily dressed and nude actors both on stage and interacting directly with the audience. Inspired, Morrison has all this in mind when he steps on stage. However, after fighting with his girlfriend Pamela Courson, he has also spent the entire day drinking and missing connecting flights to Miami. Arriving late, he is extremely intoxicated.

A converted seaplane hanger, the Dinner Key Auditorium is filled well beyond capacity (the promoters had taken out the chairs in order to sell more tickets) and the air is stifling from the Florida heat. The performance that evening will be considered a disaster and would end abruptly when the stage collapses under the weight of the audience that had rushed up there at Morrison’s insistence. Morrison himself would be tossed into the crowd by an overwhelmed security guard. Afterwards, the Dade County Sheriff’s office issued a warrant for Morrison’s arrest claiming that he had deliberately exposed his penis while on stage, shouted obscenities to the crowd, simulated oral sex on guitarist Robby Krieger and was drunk at the time of his performance, he would be accused as well by the press of attempting to incite a riot. Although the man certainly was inebriated and did use “obscene” language, and the concert itself was perhaps not the best example of professional musicians, what occurred was a man’s impassioned plea for a spirit of brotherly love to permeate our cold, war-profiteering culture, and for the people to “wake up” from their lulled stupor, submissive to every sadistic and avaricious whim of a ruling elite; an elite that today is popularly called the “one percent.”

“You’re all a bunch of fuckin’ idiots! Lettin’ people tell you

what you’re gonna do! Lettin’ people push you around! How long do

you think it’s gonna last? How long are you gonna let it go on? How

long are you gonna let em push you around? How long? Maybe you

like it. Maybe you like being pushed around! Maybe you love it! Maybe

you love getting’ your face stuck in the shit! Come on! You love it,

don’t ya! You love it! You’re all a bunch of slaves. Letting everybody

push you around. What are you gonna do about it! What are you gonna

do about it!”

With these fervent words, and his repeated assertions of, “I aint talkin’ about no revolution, and I’m not talking about no demonstration, I’m talkin’ about having a good time; I’m talkin’ ‘bout love,” as well as his commands that the audience “love your neighbor ‘till it hurts,” Morrison might have been drunk but his message was still as poignant and passionate as those by any other concerned citizen, such as those by my favorite comedian (and philosopher) Bill Hicks, who twenty-four years later told his American audiences:

“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, ‘Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?’ And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, ‘Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.’ And we … kill those people. ‘Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.’ It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love.

“The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”

For the most part, Morrison’s rants that evening made it impossible for the band to play through any of their hits as he insisted on repeatedly directly communicating with the audience, and his inebriated state seemed to rattle their typically intuitive musical communication. Essentially, it was not a great show. However, there are moments that are great examples of raw, blistering, “rock-out-with-your-cock-out” (pun intended) music. Morrison’s voice itself here exemplifies what he once wrote in one of his notebooks under the title of As I Look Back:

                        Elvis had sex-wise

                        Mature voice at 19

Mine still retains the

nasal whine of a

repressed adolescent

            minor squeaks & furies

An interesting singer

at best—a scream

or a sick croon. Nothing

in-between.

The following track has been slightly edited by myself to focus upon the more poignant and entertaining moments, in terms of this discussion:

The Doors, March 1st, 1969

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The Doors live at the Dinner Key Auditorium, Miami (March 1st, 1969):

Are you Ready/Back Door Man/I Want Some Love/Five To One/Talkin’ Bout Some Love/Touch Me/I Was Born Here/Light My Fire/I Wanna See Some Action.

After the “Miami Incident” The Doors had found that the majority of their tour had been cancelled by the venues, as they were no longer willing to host them. Later that month Jim Morrison uses the forced lull in touring as an opportunity to record some of his poetry without the presence of the other members of The Doors. One of the finest of these recordings features Morrison’s memories of attending high-school dances as an army brat (his father was Rear Admiral George Stephen Morrison and happened to be in command of the Carrier Division during the controversial Gulf of Tonkin Incident in 1964—how’s that for a generation gap?). This piece is titled, Can We Resolve The Past?:

Jim Morrison in 1964 (photo by Alain Ronay).

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On Monday, April 28th, after further cancellations and the possibility of a three-year sentence in a Florida prison hanging over Morrison’s head, The Doors entered PBS Studios in New York to record for the show “PBS Critique.” Along with several other songs they performed their blues vamp “Build Me A Woman,” as well as the psychedelic epic (and title track) that closes The Soft Parade, which was due to be released on July 18th. A rarity for them performance wise, “The Soft Parade” is another fine example of my earlier statements regarding the total idiosyncratic nature of The Doors’ sound.

With their entire American tour cancelled, the group accepted an offer to perform at The Forum in Mexico City for four dates at the end of June.

The Doors in Mexico, June 1969

It would have been returning from this brief engagement in Mexico that Morrison would have first learned of Brian Jones’ death and subsequently compose his poem, Ode to L.A. While Thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased. Shortly after, with The Doors securing the two nights of July 21 and 22 at the Aquarius Theatre on Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, Morrison would self-publish this work and distribute it freely to those in attendance. To his irritation, the majority of The Doors’ audience, who only seemed to come to shows in anticipation of a spectacle, left these chapbooks to litter the floor—unread.

The Doors at the Aquarius Theatre.

On the evening of the 22nd, Morrison would tell the audience: “Hey, I’m tired of being a freaky musician; I want to be Napoleon! Let’s have some more wars around here. What a stinking, shitty little war we have runnin’ over there. Let’s get a big one! A real big one! With alotta…killings, and bombs, and blood!”  A little over two weeks later, a man and three women, “hippies” by all accounts and members of a cult, would enter a luxurious home in the Benedict Canyon area of Los Angeles and butcher five people, including actress Sharon Tate who was eight-months-pregnant at the time. They were directed by one man: Charles Manson. The “Manson Family” would later be arrested in Death Valley where they had been living while searching for a hole in the earth that would lead them to a fabled underground city. Four months after this concert the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam (in which roughly 500 unarmed Vietnamese men, women, the elderly, as well as children and babies were murdered by the U.S. military) becomes public knowledge after being suppressed for some twenty months by the government.

At this show The Doors also debut some preliminary compositions for the album they would record at the end of the year, Morrison Hotel, subsequently released in February of 1970. Of this material, one highlight is the live rendition of “Maggie M’Gill

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December 1969, Los Angeles, CA – Jim Morrison stands amidst a group of men outside the original Hard Rock Cafe in the skid row area of downtown L.A. – Image by © Henry Diltz/Corbis]

December 1969, Los Angeles, California, USA — The Doors dine in a Mexican restaurant. From right to left: Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robbie Krieger. — Henry Diltz

At the time of recording Morrison Hotel, it seems that Morrison’s lyrics and poetry begin to achieve a certain new level of maturity, as well as gaining a synthesis of vision between the two. As a poet, as a lyricist, as an “old bluesman,” Morrison comprehended the pure expression—the psychic communication—that can be achieved through symbolism. I believe the music itself on this album (and the next and last, L.A. Woman) reflects this. Many claim that these albums were “a return-to-form” but in reality The Doors had never sounded quite like this. Although by no means did Morrison cease his self-abuse, it does seem that he and his long-time girlfriend (wife, for all intents and purposes) did reach a level of stability, and that Morrison, at her urging, dedicated himself towards his writing more fully.

(photo by Raeanne Rubenstein)

Jim & Pam (edmund teske 1969)

While touring to promote this album, on April 7th Morrison had two poetic works bound together and published in one volume: The Lords and The New Creatures. The first half—The Lords—with its subtitle “Notes on Vision,” contains numerous thoughtful essay-like meditations on the human-condition in relation to his ability to experience reality, particularly in light of modern advancements in his ability to create the pictorial through the cinema. This work also explores both the liberation to be found in being an artist as well as the sinister element of subjugation that can occur through all this.

“There are no longer ‘dancers,’ the possessed.

The cleavage of men into actor and spectators

is the central fact of our time. We are obsessed

with heroes who live for us and whom we punish.

If all the radios and televisions were deprived

of their sources of power, all books and paintings

burned tomorrow, all shows and cinemas closed,

all the arts of vicarious existence…

“We are content in the ‘given’ in sensation’s

quest. We have been metamorphosised from a mad

body dancing on hillsides to a pair of eyes

staring in the dark (p. 29)

“More or less, we’re all afflicted with the psychology

of the voyeur. Not in a strictly clinical or

criminal sense, but in our whole physical and

emotional

stance before the world. Whenever we seek to break

this spell of passivity, our actions are cruel and

awkward and generally obscene, like an invalid who

has forgotten to walk (p. 39).

“The Lords appease us with images. They give us

books, concerts, galleries, shows, cinemas.

Especially the cinemas. Through art they confuse

us and blind us to our enslavement. Art adorns

our prison walls, keeps us silent and diverted

and indifferent” (p. 89).

Beginning the “Roadhouse Blues Tour” on January 17th 1970 at the more intimate Felt Forum within Madison Square Garden in New York, those born after a certain era have always been given the impression through marketing that The Doors had past their prime once Morrison had put on pounds, grown a beard, and abandoned the leather pants for jeans and a t-shirt. However, I believe the band has never sounded as dynamic and fully engaged with the music as they did on this tour. In fact the majority of live recordings you’ve most likely heard from this group, despite the “young lion” images of Morrison emblazoned on the LP covers, come from this era. It seems that at the band’s beginnings Morrison had calculated a figure so powerful and alluring that there was nothing he could do to destroy it.

As a demonstration of the band’s prowess at this time, check out what perhaps might be their finest live performance ever put on tape: from Saturday, May 2nd at The Pittsburgh Civic Arena, here’s “Roadhouse Blues.”

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Like it? Buy it.

Concerning the song and this performance, cultural historian and critic Greil Marcus (who, to those familiar with my blog by now must realize is one of my favorite go-to-guys for critical insight) had this to say:

“In Pittsburgh, on May 2, 1970, for the fourth number of the set, the band hammers into the song. It will take them seven minutes to tease, demand, threaten the song to force it to give up every secret it was made to reveal, and the drama unfolds when Morrison, his voice already desperate, preternaturally full, expanding with each line, descends into the bubbling swamp of the tune, the place without words. He disappears into the maw of the music and keeps going, you gotta cronk cronk cronk sh bomp bomp cronk cronk eh hey cron cronk cronk ado ah hey che doo bop dag a chee be cronk cronk well rah hey hey tay cronk cronk see lay, hey—he sustains it all for a solid minute. It’s harder than it looks. With each measure of vocal sounds the pressure is increased, the pleasure is deeper, the abandon more complete, the freedom from words, meaning, song, band, hits, audience, police, prison, and self more real, precious, and sure to disappear around the next turn if you don’t keep your eyes on the road. In that long minute, Morrison sings the whole song in another language, one only he could speak, but that anyone could understand. There is no document he left behind where he sounds more fulfilled as an artist, as someone who threw down the gauntlet and said to himself, to you, to whoever was listening, to whoever wasn’t, follow that” (2011).

Another fine example is their performance of “Love Me Two Times,” from August 21st at the Bakersfield Civic Auditorium in California. Here they effortlessly let the song drift where Morrison takes it, incorporating elements of the blues standard “Baby Please Don’t Go” (first recorded by Big Joe Williams in 1935), and “St. James Infirmary Blues,” that anonymous American ode to love lost through iniquity, made famous by Louis Armstrong in 1928 and covered countless times since.

(photo by Michael Parrish)

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Having turned down an offer to perform at the Woodstock Festival, The Doors now agreed to play what was intended as the European version, located at the East Afton Farm on an area on the western side of the Isle of Wight.

Morrison would spend the following two months on trial for obscenity, but what was truly on trial was not only an artists’ right to express himself, but any American citizens’ right to do so. After a state-sponsored “Rally for Decency,” the Miami jury (the youngest member was 42 years old) convicted Morrison on misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure and open profanity while acquitting him of two felonies and two other misdemeanors. His bail was raised to fifty thousand dollars and he now faced a certain prison sentence (Melnick, 2010).

Following his conviction, Morrison filed an appeal and he and the band would spend the uncertain winter of ’70-’71 recording their sixth and final album together, L.A. Woman.

Just prior to the full commencement of the L.A. Woman sessions, On Tuesday December 8th, Jim Morrison would spend his 27th (and final) birthday at another recording session held exclusively for his poetry. Although the majority of these recording remains unreleased, on this day he would recite a devotional poem titled, Science Of Night.

December 8, 1970.

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Four days later at “The Warehouse” in New Orleans, The Doors would play their final live concert together. Halfway through this show Morrison seemed at first distracted and then just completely spent. After slumping down on to the floor, Morrison grabs the mic stand and continually slams it into the stage eventually splintering the wood. Then throwing the stand aside he leaves the stage. Ray Manzarek later states that he witnessed at this show all of Morrison’s “psychic energy” abandon his body.

Jim Morrison at The Doors last performance, December 12, 1970 at The Warehouse in New Orleans, LA.

L.A. Woman sessions (photo by Frank Lisciandro)

In preparation for a new album, over the next few weeks that followed their final performance The Doors would convert their office and rehearsal space—The Workshop, located at 8512 Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles—into a recording studio. Despite numerous detriments at the time, L.A. Woman would be an artistic triumph. Recorded and mixed in only two weeks, and although these sessions were for the most-part a relaxed affair, it would feature some sublime and manic moments as on the title track, as well as marvelously rough recorded booze-soaked blues as on “Cars Hiss by My Window.”

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Like it? Buy it?

This album would also feature some of Morrison’s most direct and plaintive lyrics:

I need a brand new friend who doesn’t bother me.

I need a brand new friend who doesn’t trouble me.

I need someone who doesn’t need me.

                                                (“Hyacinth House”).

Here is that song recorded as a demo at guitarist Robby Krieger’s home studio:

—————-(CLICK TO LISTEN)

Like it? Buy it.

Jim Morrison would be dead within six months of these recordings.

L.A. Woman sessions (photo by Edmund Teske).

In the hopes of some respite from the threat of imprisonment, as well as a desire to escape his rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle for some time and concentrate on his writing once more, Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson relocated to Paris on March 11th 1971. At the time, he told The Doors’ manager Bill Siddons, “I don’t know who I am, and I don’t know what I’m doing at the moment. I even don’t know what I really want, I just wanna go away” (Moddemann, 1999).

Wandering Paris

Moving to No. 17 Rue Beautreillis, Morrison placed a desk near the window in order to write at. Spending the majority of his time wandering the streets, Morrison carried his notebooks in a bag at his side at all times.

So much forgotten already

            So much forgotten

            So much to forget

            Once the idea of purity

            born, all was lost

            irrevocably

            […]

            And I remember

            Stars in the shotgun

            night

            eating pussy

            til the mind runs

            clean

            […]

            A monster arrived

            in the mirror

            To mock the room

            & its fool

            alone

            Give me songs

to sing

& emerald dreams

to dream

& I’ll give you love

unfolding

[…]

Naked we come

& bruised we go

nude pastry

for the slow soft worms

below

This is my poem

for you

Great flowing funky flower’d beast

Great perfumed wreck of hell

Great good disease

& summer plague

Great god-damned shit-ass

Mother-fucking freak

You lie, you cheat,

you steal, you kill

you drink the Southern

Madness swill

of greed

you die utterly & alone

Mud up to your braces

Someone new in your

knickers

& who would that be?

You know

You know more

than you let on

Much more than you betray

Great slimy angel-whore

you’ve been good to me

You really have

been swell to me

Tell them you came & saw

& look’d into my eyes

& saw the shadow

of the guard receding

Thoughts in time

& out of season

The Hitchhiker stood

by the side of the road

& leveled his thumb

in the calm calculus

of reason.

(excerpts from Paris Journal by Jim Morrison)

Wandering Paris on June 17th, 1971, Morrison came across two young American street musicians who were playing guitar in front of the Café de Flore. The three, getting drunk throughout the day, would rent an hour from a little local recording studio and attempt to “jam.” Morrison would tell the engineer it was his own band called Jomo And The Smoothies. “I get twenty-five percent of everything that happens, right?” he asked the other two musicians (Moddemann, 1999). However, these two new acquaintances failed to take any of it remotely seriously, despite Morrison’s repeated attempts to get them to settle down into any song. Eventually he would suggest one of his own more recent compositions and would begin to drunkenly, yet passionately bellow and croon his way through his ode to Pamela, “Orange County Suite”:

June, 1971 photo by Alain Ronay

——————————————————————(CLICK TO LISTEN)

[Note: this track has been edited by me to remove much of the incessant and amateurish noodling of the other two musicians and focus upon what would be Jim Morrison’s final recorded performance]

For those who have been wondering why a discussion of Brian Jones has somehow transformed into a lengthy discussion of Jim Morrison and his work: two weeks after the above recording was made, and exactly two years later to the day of Brian Jones’ death, On July 3rd 1971 Jim Morrison was found dead in the bathtub of his Parisian apartment by his girlfriend Pamela. He was also only twenty-seven years old. They had spent the evening of the 2nd at the cinema watching a western starring Robert Mitchum, titled Pursued. Returning to their apartment at about 1.00 a.m. on July 3rd, Morrison sat down at his desk and attempted to write but could not concentrate. Instead they watched some Super 8 films of a recent Moroccan vacation and listened to old Doors albums. Afterwards the couple went to bed.

Plagued by coughing fits for weeks now, Morrison woke up and vomited. There were traces of blood within it. Not wanting to call a doctor, Morrison sent Pamela back to bed, and filled up the tub for a hot bath. The last thing she remembered hearing him say was, “Are you there, Pam? Pam, are you there?” Later that morning she found him submerged in the water with a smile on his face. At first she thought he was playing a joke. No autopsy was performed and the official cause of death was listed as “heart failure.”

Epilogue:

Exactly forty-two years after Brian Jones’ death, and exactly forty years after Jim Morrison’s death—on a rainy afternoon in the town of Big Indian, located in upstate New York, My wife and I were married. Everyone made it through to the other side of that wet day just fine.

———————-Bobby Calero——————————–

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