Essay about the poetry of Jim Morrison of The Doors
Written: November 14, 2001
"If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it's to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel." – Jim Morrison
During the late 60s, a time of revolution and freedom, Jim Morrison and The Doors began a quest to open the minds of the people. Jim yearned to explore new realms of thought and through his poetry and music, with an abundance of help from psychotropic substances, he attempted to pass through the “doors of perception”. "There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors," Jim has been known to say and these are the doors of perception of which we speak.
In 1954, Aldous Huxley wrote a book entitled “The Doors of Perception” which discusses the usage of psychedelic substances to expand the mind, a practice common in pagan and Native American cultures. It is believed that Morrison was inspired in part by this book to utilize acid and other substances to enhance his creativity and aid in writing his poetry. The use of psychedelics was spiritual in nature to him. It allowed him to stand on the threshold of the infinite universe of possibility and truth. He was a man who walked along the precarious edge of life and death to experience all the pleasure and pain life holds. He wanted to revel in every sensation, every moment to the fullest extent and he wanted the public to share in his private world. Through the use of mushrooms, acid, and LSD, the fans came to form a bond with their demi-gods and partook of the ritual that was a Doors concert.
The songs he wrote and sang were haunting and mesmerizing. His lyrics still chill us and shake us from our ignorant, blissful slumber, as was Jim’s intent. He shouted “Wake up!” to his worshipping fans at concerts. He didn’t merely want his audience to be present in that moment as he spoke to them through his poetry. Morrison wanted generations to come to awaken to the world around us and realize that all that we have accepted as truth may, in fact, be only a glimmer of that truth. With songs like “The End”, Morrison sucks us into the vortex of his mystical mind and leads us through the valley of infinite wisdom. He guides us to the doors of perception and beckons us to follow him through, even now, thirty years later
“The End” was written and recorded in 1967 for The Doors first album, aptly titled, The Doors. The lyrics seem very dark as is the music which accompanies them. The music begins slowly and melodically with enchanting sounds that cause your body to begin to sway…
“This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend
The end of our elaborate plans
The end of everything that stands
Like a snake charmer, playing for his snake, the music begins to build as the lyricist describes a terrifying scene where the people are lost, struggling to find their way in the world. They are trapped and danger is all around them. The music comes as a spiraling of notes and chords whirling around in frenzied fury conjuring images of ritualistic dancing in worship of the gods.
The killer awakes… This murderous beast ventures to his sister’s room. He walks into his brother’s room. He walks further down the hall.
“And he came to a door
And he looked inside
I want to kill you
Mother, I want to. . .”
The music comes to an amazing crescendo of sounds intermingled and becoming one and then, all at once, the music subsides and we are brought back to earth. Morrison soothes our souls and tells us that it hurts to know we’ll never follow him. He will continue to live in a world where no one understands him.
To begin to try to understand the enigma this is Jim Morrison, we need to delve into the meaning of his poetry. Though “The End” seems to be a macabre tale of a horrid place and the longing for death, Morrison viewed the end, death, as a release. He believed that in death, he, and all people, would transcend the normal plane of existence and pass through the doors of perception gaining the immense knowledge of all the universe. In “The End”, Jim tries to show us that the societies we live in are not allowing us to be free and we don’t even realize it because we have lived this way for generations. Morrison was trying to show us that by embracing death and accepting it for what it is, ultimate freedom and ecstasy, we can live fully. He was waking us up to the fact that we can change the world and we must.
Whether or not his use of drugs actually added to his creative abilities we can never say for sure. In the late 60s and early 70s, when The Doors were in their prime, it was a common practice amongst the youth to use drugs. It was yet another avenue to communicate with the masses. We do know that Morrison left behind a body of poetry that effects us on so many levels. He succeeded in awakening thousands of minds simply by putting pen to paper. Every time we listen to his music, we listen to those immortalized words, “This is the end, my only friend, the end”, we ponder death and realize how precious life is. His words should be a reminder to live in constant awareness of the truths that can be found by only asking more questions.