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In 2013, a new fossil analysis revealed a lizard in Myanmar, one of the largest ever known. It was designated Barbaturex morrisoni in honor of Jim Morrison. According to University of Nebraska-Lincoln paleontologist Jason Head, “This is a king lizard, and he was the lizard king, so it just fit," When Morrison was four years old, he witnessed a terrible, fatal car accident on an Indian reservation in the New Mexico desert. He claimed this was the most formative event in his life and made repeated references to it in songs ("Peace Frog" from the 1970 album. “Morrison Hotel”), poems ("Dawn's Highway" and "Ghost Song" on the 1978 album, “An American Prayer”), and interviews. The son of a career naval officer (George Stephen Morrison, who commanded a carrier division during the Gulf of Tonkin Incident that became the pretext for escalating the American war in Vietnam), young Morrison moved frequently from school to school but became a voracious, and precocious, reader: Franz Kafka, mythographer Joseph Campbell, William Blake, Friedrich Nietzsche (especially his notions about aesthetics, morality, and the Apollonian/Dionysian duality), French writers (the existentialist philosophers, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Charles Baudelaire, Honoré de Balzac, Jean Cocteau, Molière, the Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud), the American beats William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. In 1961 he graduated from a high school attended the same year by Cass Elliot, whose career in the Mamas and Papas paralleled Morrison’s in the Doors. In 1965 he graduated from film school in the Theater Arts Department of the College of Fine Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he became influenced by the surrealist theater of Antonin Artaud, then moved to Venice Beach, California, where he lived on a rooftop, consumed canned beans and LSD, and wrote early songs like "Moonlight Drive" and "Hello, I Love You." He also formed a duo with his old cinematography classmate, keyboardist Ray Manzarek; joined by guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore, they became the Doors. They took their name from Aldous Huxley's “The Doors of Perception,” a book about psychedelic drug use, a title which Huxley had appropriated from a line by William Blake ("If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite") from “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.” Morrison supplied most of the lyrics, though Krieger collaborated with him on some of their biggest hits (such as "Light My Fire," "Love Me Two Times," "Love Her Madly," and "Touch Me.") A year after they formed they opened for Them at the Whisky a Go Go, and Jim quickly picked up on the stagecraft of their frontman, Van Morrison (no relation) – “his apparent recklessness, his air of subdued menace, the way he would improvise poetry to a rock beat, even his habit of crouching down by the bass drum during instrumental breaks," in Densmore’s words.
After signing with Elektra Records, they scored big with their seminal single. "Light My Fire," which spent three weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July/August 1967. Their blend of blues and dark psychedelic rock, including original songs, distinctive covers such as "Alabama Song" from the Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill opera “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny,” and extended concept works like "The End,""When the Music's Over,"and "Celebration of the Lizard" quickly made them international stars. Meanwhile, in 1969, Morrison self-published two volumes of poetry, “The Lords / Notes on Vision” (primarily brief descriptions of places, people, and events and his ideas on cinema) and “The New Creatures” (more traditionally poetic, in a Symbolist way, in terms of structure, look, and feel); two posthumous volumes were later published, “The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison Volume I: Wilderness” (1988) and “Volume II: The American Night) (1990). He also professionally recorded his poems in March 1969, which were released as “An American Prayer” in 1978. He started to collaborate with Beat poet Michael McClure (probably best known for the song “Mercedes Benz,” which he wrote with Janis Joplin and Bob Neuwirth) to do a film version of McClure's “The Beard,” in which Morrison would play Billy the Kid, but the project never materialized. In March 1971 he rented an apartment on the Right Bank in Paris, dying there on 3 July. The official cause of death was heart failure, though no autopsy was performed. According to his long-time girlfriend, they had taken heroin after a night of heavy drinking, though Morrison may have thought he was snorting cocaine; she nodded off, and he hemorrhaged to death in his bathtub. A notebook, “Paris Journal,” was recovered, which featured a poem that ended: “This is my poem for you, Great flowing funky flower'd beast, Great perfumed wreck of hell...Someone new in your knickers & who would that be? You know, You know more, than you let on...Tell them you came & saw & look'd into my eyes & saw the shadow of the guard receding, Thoughts in time & out of season The Hitchiker stood by the side of the road & levelled his thumb in the calm calculus of reason.” He was buried in the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, the largest cemetery in Paris, keeping comapany with such convivial spirits as Balzac, Molière, Oscar Wilde, the star-crossed medieval lovers Pierre Abélard and Héloïse d'Argenteuil, and Gertrude Stein and Alice B.Toklas. Permanent crowds, graffiti, gifts, and occasional vandalism at his gravesite have caused the cemetery management to regularly guard it. In 1981, sculptor Mladen Mikulin installed a bust to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death, but it was constantly being defaced and was eventually stolen, in 1988. In the early 1990s, his long-estranged father put a flat stone on the grave, with a bronze plaque bearing the Greek inscription: ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ ("according to his own daemon”).
I recite Celebration of the Lizard on rare occasions. It never fails to astound. People are in awe of Morrison's unsettling vision.
Break on Through popped into my head as soon as I looked at the picture. Nicely done! :)
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