Jim Morrison’s life is full of twists and turns. Yet, despite this he still managed to keep control of himself to create well-organized works of music as well as his poems. His social life started out to be the safe variable and when he was on stage he let loose giving crazy shows for the audience. As his life went on his two lives began to blend into one big blunder where you could only see tiny specs of so-called order.
As well as Jim’s life, the time he lived in behaved the same way. Order in the country was there, but its people and its government showed moments of chaos and even rejection of the government itself. Major things were happening and people were reacting in sometimes extreme ways. The sixties were jam packed with events showing disorder. In this way we can relate it to one who lived the time. Jim Morrison’s life was full of diversity, order and chaos, just like the times he lived in, the sixties. Jim’s life began as a story of order and chaos. His father was a career militarist, which brought the order of the military. This job brought a lot of moving and relocation which through Jim’s childhood out of sync. Jim started his life in Clearwater, Florida. Then he moved to Washington D.C., and then on to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jim’s family kept moving and moving Jim never had time to make any true friends in any one place (Jones 31). To deal with this Jim acted like; one could say the class clown, so he would be liked. This backfired and kids learned to watch themselves around him. With no true friends Jim found that he had no problem manipulating the ones around him. He was his own individual; he just looked out for himself. Morrison received high marks throughout school even though he didn’t put too much effort into the books and spent a lot of time drunk (34).
His parents then enrolled him in St. Petersburg Junior College in Florida, but Jim transferred to Florida State University only to drop out and move to UCLA to study film. At the end of the year Jim turned in his film, but he received bad reactions to it and he dropped out of school (Manzarek 60). This made Jim a lot more eligible to be drafted so he moved to Venice just south of Santa Monica. This is when he began to use alcohol and drugs to expand his mind past the point the books had. After this summer ’65 filled with drugs and alcohol he began to think he could become a rock singer (Jones 38). A little later he met Ray Manzarek and decided to form a band. In 1965 Jim met eighteen year old Pamela Courson. This redhead gave Jim what he called his “Cosmic Mate” (37). This provided Jim a normal relationship where he read his poems and she benefited him in the category of clothing apparel. Yet, Jim enjoyed the life of Los Angeles where freaks, washouts, and the rich lived side by side. Nobody in L.A. would make his ambitions shallow either, Jim chose to be on the crazier side of the city so he could mask himself as he always did and because of the scene there nobody cared. Jim’s life though a little wild still kept the calm variable of his band. They made many songs and passed them around to different record companies until Columbia gave them a small deal. They went around L.A. doing birthdays, weddings, and etc… Manzerek was the prominent singer at this time because Morrison was still too shy at the time to use his own voice. The band was looking for a more stable way of playing so they sought a residency at a club. They were rejected around town because they had no bass guitar player, but then Manzerek discovered a way of getting around this by adopting a keyboard that imitated the sound the bass guitar (Jones 41). Then as the Doors concerts numbered on Jim Morrison became more and more confident with his presence on stage, which resulted in the often singing of Morrison. The band started to attract small crowds for their performances who would show up over and over again just to see The Doors play. Along with this Jim became very comfortable on stage. Soon he became so comfortable that he began showing up drunken, high, or both. At the club the Whiskey-A-Go-Go a rep from Elektra records saw them (Manzerek 182). The company gave the Doors control of their output so the band quickly signed. This was definitely a good thing because the Doors had just been fired because Jim just decided to yell “*%$! You” in concert and the management quickly fired them (Jones 43).
The cause of this is the fact that the band had to fill the time slots by adlibbing songs and Jim’s relationship with LSD, a close one. A big part of order and preciseness in Jim’s life is his songs. They were written concise and compact. They are filled with all the knowledge he acquired while reading at the library. They also contained his fears and obsessions. The songs are creative from Jim’s own mind and helped out by his mind on drugs such as LSD, peyote, amyl nitrate, grass, and alcohol (43). Jim’s life was heading down while the group remained at their respectable level. He had nowhere to live, while the others maintained their life and just used drugs. They didn’t let it control and fuel them like Jim did. Jim now started to become a darker figure talking about death as a friend taking him away from his pain (44). This was the character Jim had ultimately wanted to be. He let his stage personality take over his whole life. Though Jim’s appearance made him look like a druggy from a distance he still used his mind and body to show his control. Steve Harris, the Vice President of Elektra said of him, “He had a way of moving, a way of looking at you, and a way of protecting himself: he was gorgeous magnetic. He knew he had the goods, and he knew how to use them” (Jones 48). Steve went on to say how when Jim met a journalist or record company representative he would try to “conquer” the wife; he says Jim usually did (48). Jim did everything to keep what he now had with his image and everything. An example is when before his first concert in New York his mother called and Jim talked to for a short period of time before he went off in a tantrum. His family members tried to reach him, but Jim would refuse to talk then go off in another tantrum followed by getting drunk. Jim also wanted to build on this image with a death hoax. The one fault in Jim’s image was people knew he wasn’t the kind of guy you would want to be around. He used his manipulative mind to use you if you came close. Jim would test his friends, lovers, etc…over and over till their relationship would break. As the Doors became bigger Jim became more and more unpredictable. He was the first to crowd surf, but the worst things of all were his crude acts on stage and once even getting caught in a public shower room with a woman.
The incident with the girl was in New Haven, CT where he met a girl back stage and took her to the shower-rooms and began having sex. A policeman caught them and told them to break up, but Jim protested and the cop reacted by spraying them both in the face with tear gas (Jones 128). The second embarrassing moment for the band was when Jim ran up on stage when Jimi Hendrix was up there and clutched Jimi’s legs as to perform oral sex. The next crude act is a time when Jim actually took his partially erect penis and performed or started to perform masturbation. A security guard then pushed him offstage (Manzerek 338). Along with these sexual acts Jim liked to pick fights and he would get his drunk body beaten, but then get right back up and take the beating again. Jim also liked manipulating crowds into frenzies and causing riots. Again the band was unaware of his plan. Jim’s life as you can see was one of confusion, disorder, yet he was able to keep some, admittedly not much, but some stability in it. His death in Paris mirrored his life. It was filled with uncertainty. It was most likely caused by an overdose of heroin or a heart attack. No one knows for sure knows what happened to him because after he died Pamela and the doctor were the only two to see his body. There was no autopsy done before Jim was buried. The sixties started off shaky. First the United States had to deal with the building of the Berlin wall. Next the government had to deal with the threat of nuclear war from Russia. Yet with stern discipline the United States won the cold war victory at Cuba. By this time Kennedy had sent troops to Vietnam unsuspecting what was to come next. Kennedy did not do well with the Congress of the time, but all was well with the White House because he was so popular (Kronenwetter 16). Then with sudden tragedy Kennedy was shot and killed. Then even the man who shot him was shot. Johnson sent took over and then sent about 190,000 troops over to Vietnam as well as 20,000 he sent to the Dominican Republic to keep democracy and order in place (21). One huge part of American history is the Vietnam War. Chaos broke out in the country.
The United States advisors said it would be a quick, easy victory , but as time and the war went on the United States didn’t make a lot of headway. Many bold students came out to protest the war. For this was the first war the American people had seen on film so many were appalled by the sights and the killing. The Tet Offensive put another spike in the United States’ side. Then when all couldn’t be seen as getting worse after Martin Luther King JR’s death Robert F. Kennedy just after winning was shot to death. Even the Democratic Nominating Convention in Chicago, 1968 couldn’t escape violence (Emmens 29). Then Nixon came to office and promised to try to get our men out. The war became even more unpopular after the My Lai Massacre. At four hundred and forty-one colleges and universities students protested and the National Guard was even called to Kent State. Finally on January 27, 1973 the war ended with the United States with 57,000 fewer men than before (20). Another great fight in the sixties was the fight for equality. Sit-in movements were very popular. Freedom rides were organized so blacks could ride the bus too. The still rode on even after in South Carolina a bus was beaten and then sent up in flames (51). Robert F. Kennedy went to the measure of sending federal Marshals to control the mobs. Integration of schools was also pursued and James H. Meredith became the first black man at the University of Mississippi with the help of the military. The blacks also scored major victories with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Yet there were still a hand full of blacks that sought to riot and resorted to violence instead. Some of the people were into to the hippie type thing of drugs, poems, and doing nothing else. But most people worked and now with the television becoming more widespread events such as sports could be reported and there would be less need to go watch the game in person. The people of the sixties saw a great diverse decade right in the comfort of there own living room. The age of the sixties was the perfect time of Jim Morrison to live in. James life was full of chaos, was in a time of chaos. Each also had their own type of order. Jim kept his order within his head. As mentioned before, when Jim was tanked he could still use his creative mind to manipulate others. While the order in the sixties is displayed in the way most of the people held together in the times told about.
The biggest part of both the sixties and Jim Morrison was the amount of chaos each had in their situations. Jim couldn’t control himself or he would just go out on the limb on purpose for a reaction. His drugs ruled his life and he could never really think without these influences. He was totally unpredictable. He showed up at recordings drunk, high, etc… and sometimes he would be so blitzed he couldn’t do the recording or he just wouldn’t show up at all leaving the rest of the band to record to themselves. People and situations of the sixties made this era full of chaos. The assassinations of the Kennedy’s and of Martin Luther King Jr. surrounded the decade. The war, being the least successful in United States history is a surprise because advisors predicted an easy victory one of which the military leaders couldn’t pull off. The people of the time rioted, fought and terrorized each other to get their point across while others used the more orderly way of sit-ins and so on (these would sometimes result in violence, too). Morrison identified himself with something called the “Apollinian-Dionysion” split (Manzerek 119). Order and chaos respectively. Morrison always identified with Dionysius and so does the sixties.
Emmens, Carol A. An Album of the Sixties. New York: Franklin Watts, 1981. Jones, Dylan. Jim Morrison: Dark Star. New York: Viking Studio Books, 1990. Kronenwetter, Michael. America in the 1960’s. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1998. Manzarek, Ray. Light My Fire: My Life With the Doors. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Son, 1998.