8 Love Lessons We Learned From The Lizard King, Jim Morrison

April 11, 2017

|Maria Suarez

Among the many gods and myths of the sixties and seventies, Jim Morrison seems to embody the era perfectly. Young, passionate, in love with Romantic poetry, fiery, and unexpected, the would-be frontman for The Doors broke ties with the strict household he was raised in, to become the voice of a generation that wanted to move forward. For many, his image has become a bold legend of nonconformity and sexual awakening. Coming on to the scene in the sixties, when people were starting to erode the prudish traits of the preceding decade, Morrison turned into the poster boy of a youth inspired by utopian ideas of nineteenth century poets that became the anti-war hippie movements, which also paved the way for the sexual revolution.

When we think of Morrison, we think of his onstage persona, his relationship to Pamela Courson, and, of course, of his untimely death. But there was more to him than that rockstar façade. There was an artist who wanted to be heard more than adored, who struggled with his art being just seen as something for the masses, rather than the poetry with which he dreamed of changing the world. The following are excerpts and phrases he made through his lyrics, poems, and a rather candid interview with Creem magazine’s Lizzie James a year before his death. They show us who Jim Morrison was, beyond the legend of the Lizard King. This was the heart of a man who dreamed of being a truly free spirit.

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“If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it's to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel."

“Jim Morrison: Ten Years Gone” (1981) by Lizzie James for Creem Magazine

James released an unedited version of her 1970 interview with Morrison, full of insights into the artist’s poetic intentions for his music and influence. When the journalist strayed into the singer’s more personal philosophy, she recorded some of the most honest advice and ideas about personal relationships and remaining authentic despite the artifice of fame.

I get my best ideas when the
telephone rings & rings. It’s no fun
To feel like a fool-when your
baby’s gone.

“The American Night”

It’s been widely known that Morrison had several affairs while still remaining true to his girlfriend Pamela Courson. Their relationship was unorthodox, but ultimately they seemed to be two souls who were meant to be despite all the complications of the world. Perhaps had the times been different, both would’ve felt they could openly be their true selves instead of feeling pressure and prejudice from those around them.

“It hurts to set you free, but you’ll never follow me.”

"The End"

Despite popular belief, the famous “Light My Fire” was written by The Doors guitarist, Robby Krieger. “The End” was penned by Morrison as a response to his breakup with Mary Werbellow. It’s full of archaic mystic imagery, and we listen to it like a lullaby instead of Celtic curse. It’s about letting go of those we hold on to because we know it could never be.

“how can we hate or love or judge
in the sea-swarm world of atoms”

"Horse Latitudes"

This excerpt from his poem reminds us that each of us is our own universe. How can we ever judge someone whose reality and vision of their world is their own? We can love people for who they are, but it's important to never try to impose our ideas on who they are and who they need to be in order to satisfy us.

“A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or not feel. (…) That's what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is… Most people love you for who you pretend to be….To keep their love, you keep pretending – performing.”

“Jim Morrison: Ten Years Gone” 

Friendship and romantic love are not that different. Ultimately it’s a relationship built on trust and understanding. But instead of trying to morph the person we care about into the version of them we want, we should try to truly discover who they are and help them fulfill their own dreams. Love isn’t made for selfishness; it’s about wanting the other person to be as happy as they make you feel.

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“If they say I never loved you
You know they are a liar”

"LA Woman"

This song seems to be just about sex, but is it? This particular nugget seems to be about trying to find love in the spotlight. People will talk and say things, but love is more than hearsay. Instead of focusing on what everyone else wants to shove down on our throats about who we or our significant other is, we need to trust our feelings and intuition.

“People are afraid of themselves – or their own reality – their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that's bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they're afraid to feel?”

“Jim Morrison: Ten Years Gone"

Our society continues to try to erase pain from our world, but why would that solve anything? Pain is necessary, but what can help each of us is the way we deal with our despair, disappointment, and hopelessness. Trauma cannot be ignored. It needs to be acknowledged in order for it to heal. We worry so much about not being seen by others that we forget who we were before. When we begin to dismiss pain, we stop evolving as humans. We need to allow ourselves to truly feel.

“You’re too young to be old.
You don’t need to be told
You want to see things as they are."

“The Opening of the Trunk”

As we navigate this life, we’re pushed and pulled in numerous directions. But what if we stopped being swayed? What if we rebelled and chose to discover our own perspective and belief? Would we then find our most authentic selves? Perhaps if we searched for our truest form, we’d be able to find the love we’ve always been asking for.

Jim Morrison did not leave enough words for us. He left us what he could. He wanted to shake us up like an earthquake, to wake us out of this sleepwalking life. Through his lyrics, verses, and honesty, his legacy to us is to not conform to what we’ve been told. To constantly search for new possibilities on faraway horizons. In a way he was the earthquake he wanted to be, since his legend continues to inspire us as if he never left. As if his spirit became one with all of us. He continues to change our way of seeing beauty and love. His words are a literary treasure we must never forget.

Maria Suarez

Maria Suarez

Coordinadora Editorial CC+