The American Night: The Lost Writings, Vol. 2 by Jim Morrison
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Welcome to the American Night...
I didn't understand what it meant and yet it meant so much to me, this immature 18-year-old still finding out about the world by inserting himself into the universe of others. Along came Jim Morrison, singer/poet, a forever-young manchild...so appealing to a youth entering adulthood unwillingly.
Morrison's words, scribbled out in notebooks upon rooftops in Venice, California, would become the basis of lyrics to the inflammatory songs created by late '60s rockers The Doors.
And many of those scribbles are found within The American Night: The Lost Writings, Vol. 2: The End, The Soft Parade, Moonlight Drive, Soul Kitchen, L.A. Woman, When the Music's Over.
Perhaps it's that familiarity which made this second volume of Morrison's work more enjoyable to me. I already knew and loved the entire Doors catalogue and here, now and then, popped up the lyrics to one of their tunes. And there was more familiarity to latch on to, as seen in live performances, such as his "rock opera" the Celebration of The Lizard...
Is everybody in?... Is everybody in?... Is everybody in?... The ceremony is about to begin.
Morrison and his words could be oh so very melodramatic.
He seemed to intentionally revel in the bizarre, if for no other reason than to shock. Take for instance Lament for the Death of My Cock (which I think I used for a school English project my senior year):
Lament for my cock
Sore & crucified
I seek to know you
acquiring soulful wisdom
you can open walls of
How to get death
On the morning
which the child
The death of my cock
Ancient wise satyr
Sing your ode
to my cock
caress its lament
stiffen & guide
It goes on and on like this. Silly stuff. Never did figure out the point of breaking up the lines like that. Did he think he was writing out the lines of a song? Perhaps and why not, some of this tripe did get turned into songs...well, the better stuff anyhow. However, much of this needed editing to say the least and most should never have seen the light of day. It's the stuff of teenaged angst. What artistically-minded kid didn't fill up a notebook or two with their unintelligible, overly emotional ramblings? I filled six, myself!
If you've read down this far, you're clearly a fan (or someone with some time on your hands) so I suppose I could recommend this book to you. I might also recommend The Doors' album An American Prayer. It takes snippets of spoken word by Morrison from the compositions included in this book, so you get to hear him reading them in the way he intended. Unfortunately, the remaining Doors members decided to add their own backing tracks, jam sessions and incidental noise to the background, which was not in keeping with Morrison's original intention. Eh, it is what it is.
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