December 8, 2011 - Happy Birthday, Jim Morrison

Lead singer and lyricist of the rock band The Doors, Jim Morrison was born on this day in 1943 in Florida. His family moved all around because his dad was in the U.S. Navy, but he ended up in California. (He went to University of California, Los Angeles, and then lived in Venice Beach.) 

It was was in California that Morrison wrote some of the poems that would later become Doors songs, met another UCLA student, Ray Manzarek, and thus started the band.

On most of the Doors albums, the songs are credited simply to the Doors, but it is common knowledge that Morrison wrote most of the lyrics, especially in the early albums. I read that, early on, the group made a pact that they would decide as a group if they would allow their songs to be sold or used by others – and that it had to be unanimous. Later, when the group became popular, some advertisers wanted to pay big money to use one of their songs. The rest of the group wanted to take the money, but Morrison vetoed the idea as selling out and cheapening the song. (I can see merit in both sides!)

Jim Morrison wasn't a hero; he abused drugs and alcohol and died way too early, at age 27. But he helped make some good music and had some interesting things to say. Here are a few quotes:

  • A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.
  • I like people who shake other people up and make them feel uncomfortable...I like any reaction I can get with my music. Just anything to get people to think.
  • Listen, real poetry doesn't say anything; it just ticks off the possibilities. Opens all doors. You can walk through any one that suits you.
  • Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts.
  • There are things known and things unknown, and in between are the doors.
  • This is the strangest life I've ever known.

You may have noticed that two of the quotes mentioned doors. The band took the name “The Doors” because of the Aldous Huxley book The Doors of Perception, which in turn was a reference to a quotation by William Blake: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”

Also on this Date:

BotanistJan Ingenhousz's Birthday – photosynthesis and respiration

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