February 13, 2012

Teenage Scribbles: Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison, Spring 1981
Felt tip pen and letter stencil on bond paper

Only upon finding this stash of drawings from my teenage years did I remember how much Jim Morrison once meant to me. The 1980 publication of the Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman book No One Here Gets Out Alive was a conjuring trick that resurrected the dead. And the first Second Coming of Jim Morrison culminated in his September 1981 Rolling Stone cover with a headline forever etched in my brain: “He’s hot, he’s sexy and he’s dead.”

Jim Morrison, August 1982
Pencil in sketch book

While many of The Doors’ singles were still all over the radio, the book (which I read a total of 5 times in high school – even gave an oral book report that garnered an A) led to buying and listening to the albums.  Because it was so evocative of the era, this led to a crash course in 1960s hippie history (Richard Brautigan, Peter Max, youth rebellion, free love and rampant venereal disease), and I briefly fashioned myself a modern day hippie. But hippies weren’t as glamorous as, say, The Warhol Factory, and since both camps did lots of drugs, might as well stick with The Lower East Side over Woodstock (indoor plumbing always wins).

Come the tragic murder of John Lennon, it was The Doors, The Beatles and Black Sabbath who got me through that horrible winter of 1980-81. And come the introduction of marijuana to my world, Jim Morrison’s excess was an inspiration to scale greater heights of inebriation. He set the example that constant intoxication can lead to artistic achievement, so under the ever-present gaze of an American Poet poster on the bedroom wall, I wrote horrible poetry.

Strange Days, August 1982
Pencil in sketch book

Come the time I had a boyfriend with a terrible liquor problem, I realized that Morrison de-evolved into a fat, belligerent drunk, and suddenly, the romanticism of him faking his own death evaporated. And year after year, Ray Manzarek’s non-stop worship that relived every second of Morrison’s existence seemed pathetic.  And I am still traumatized by this drum poetry reading by John Densmore.

Since 1980, Jim Morrison continues to be a Burnout Rite Of Passage, like a sexy, psychedelic teddy bear for the Freaks & Geeks years. Walk into any head shop right now, and he’s up for sale alongside the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix posters.

Jim Morrison, Winter 1983

But my genuine take away from that phase is two of their albums: Morrison Hotel and Waiting for the Sun.  To my ears, they stand up proud regardless of historical context or personal memories of Morrison worship… which I forgot I had till I saw these drawings.

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