This is my unedited submission I wrote for Fusion on the Legacy of Jim Morrison. I was not a fan until I did my research and read his biography and realized his contribution to music and life. When the article was published it was edited and I felt the published version did not evoke the same impact as my original version did.
Jim Morrison’s Legacy
By: A. Lawless
Dec. 8, 1943 – July 4, 1971
Jim Morrison’s life was a brief passing moment in the spectrum of history and time. 27 years with only 5 of those being in the spotlight. Within those brief 5 years he not only changed the face of music but he laid the groundwork for others to use music as both art form and political forum.
Morrison is a certified American icon whose music is only superceded by the everyday antics of his life and all the pleasures he could afford from it. He lived life at both extremes never once settling for the safe middle ground. He was against the establishment, the status quo, living life the way you were taught was the normal and traditional way- job, marriage, house, kids, work, die. He partied like a rock star but he didn’t live like a rock star. He spent his money not on lavish items but mainly on drinking, drugs, and having a good time. His drug usage and his constant drinking are legendary to mythic proportions but their use was not what inspired and motivated the man to write or perform. His dependency for these habits was simply a product of the times and the result of the ease in obtaining whatever he needed. He did drugs and he drank because it was there and he enjoyed it. The drinking and drug use did lend a hand to his antics and behavior, most notably creating the bad boy image which others have tried and failed to emulate. Morrison was and always was true to himself. He was not some corporate record company puppet or persona created by the record company to increase record sales. He was the charismatic, misunderstood, anger fueled, rebel who mocked and taunted authority and he had always been this way since he was a child. One would never dream that he would consider himself more of a poet than a voice against authority. Morrison once said, “…when you make your peace with authority you become authority.” This was the underlying theme for many of The Doors songs. Morrison chose the name for the band, taking it from the book, “The Doors of Perception” by Aldous Huxley. Morrison wanted the music the band created to be just that- the doors that lead the listener to open their minds. 40 years later the music lives on and continues challenging the listener to examine one’s own self and their place in society
For any artist the intent of their art is to stand the test of time, to be relevant, to inspire, and if it is done just right the art will capture the soul of its creator’s vision. Their vision captured correctly, whether it is conveyed in stone, paint, words, music, or film will be seen, heard, and appreciated long after the creator has passed. Jim Morrison, the rock star, the poet, the original bad boy achieved that and his legacy has outlived his short 27 years here on earth. His music, his words, his memory and his message still echoes, resonates, and haunts us today just as it did over 4 decades ago.
Morrison died in Paris on the weekend of July 4th, 1971. His death is mired in speculation but all believed drugs played their part. His death solidified his cult status, to icon, to legend, to rock god and this 4th of July marks the 40th anniversary of that tragic day in rock history. Had he lived, who knows what his other artistic contributions would have been or what change would he have brought to this world. All we have is the life he gave within those 5 years.
Leading by example, he challenged authority, encouraging all to rise up but not to follow him but to follow their own convictions, to voice their own grievances, and to act upon those feelings. Morrison’s legacy was not a life of drug abuse and drunkenness, lewd behavior and foul language. It was a legacy of embracing life, your own life, and living it under your own rules, without fear. To speak your mind and do as you please but above all to live for the moment because all we have of yesterday, today, and tomorrow are the moments we live for right now.