“The Lost Paris Tapes” Preserves Jim Morrison’s Final Poetry Recordings from 1971

Billed and sold as the ninth and final stu­dio album by The Doors, An Amer­i­can Prayer tends to divide Jim Mor­ri­son fans. On the one hand, it’s a cap­ti­vat­ing doc­u­ment of the late singer read­ing his free-asso­cia­tive poet­ry: dark, weird­ly beau­ti­ful psy­che­del­ic lyri­cal fugues. On the oth­er hand, it’s only a “Doors album” in that the three remain­ing mem­bers con­vened in 1978 to record orig­i­nal music over the deceased Morrison’s solo read­ings. While the result­ing prod­uct is both a haunt­ing trib­ute and an immer­sive late-night lis­ten, many have felt that the band’s ren­der­ing did vio­lence to the depart­ed singer’s orig­i­nal inten­tions. (Lis­ten to and down­load it here for free.)

An Amer­i­can Prayer’s read­ings were record­ed unac­com­pa­nied in March 1969 and Decem­ber 1970. In 1971, Mor­ri­son joined his long-time lover Pamela Cour­son in Paris. That same year, Jim Mor­ri­son died, under some rather mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances, at the age of 27.

Before his death, how­ev­er, he made what is said to be his final stu­dio record­ing, a poet­ry reading/performance with a cou­ple of unknown Parisian street musi­cians. Although Doors key­boardist Ray Man­zarek alleged­ly dis­missed this record­ing as “drunk­en gib­ber­ish,” Doors fans have cir­cu­lat­ed it since 1994—combined with a 37-minute poet­ry read­ing from 1968—as a boot­leg called The Lost Paris Tapes.

While it’s true that An Amer­i­can Prayer is a pow­er­ful and haunt­ing album, it’s also true that The Lost Paris Tapes rep­re­sents the unadorned, unedit­ed Mor­ri­son, in full con­trol of how his voice sounds, and with­out his famous band. I can­not help you find a copy of The Lost Paris Tapes, but many of the tracks are on Youtube, such as “Orange Coun­ty Suite” (top), an affect­ing piece writ­ten for Pamela Cour­son. Oth­er excerpts from the boot­leg, such as “Hitler Poem” (above) show Mor­ri­son in a very strange mood indeed, and show off his unset­ting sense of humor. While the work on The Lost Paris Tapes ranges in qual­i­ty, all of it pre­serves the seduc­tive voice and cryp­tic imag­i­na­tion that Jim Mor­ri­son nev­er lost, even as he began to slip away into alco­holism.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Doors Key­boardist Ray Man­zarek (1939–2013) Tells the Sto­ry of the Clas­sic Song, ‘Rid­ers on the Storm’

A Young, Clean Cut Jim Mor­ri­son Appears in a 1962 Flori­da State Uni­ver­si­ty Pro­mo Film

Ani­ma­tions Revive Lost Inter­views with David Fos­ter Wal­lace, Jim Mor­ri­son & Dave Brubeck

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (8)
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  • Malcolm Hume says:

    I’m pret­ty sure that ‘An Amer­i­can Prayer’ isn’t pub­lic domain, and should­n’t be host­ed on Archive.org.

    How can you real­ly like the music when you hurt the artists?

  • Wrecking Crew Director says:

    I saw Jim read his poet­ry in Atlanta. He wore a suit and tie, was com­plete­ly sober and hon­ored to have his poet­ry tak­en seri­ous­ly. After he walked with me and 20 oth­er peo­ple to the Atlanta strip, we sat on a porch and passed joints. I smoked with Jim Morrison!Most don’t know and I did­n’t know myself until a few years ago the rea­son for Jim deny­ing his father and being drunk.His dad was on the boat at the Gulf Of Tonkin that was used to start the Viet­nam War. His father knew his boat had not been attacked, so Jim got to see his pals sent off to war for an attack that nev­er hap­pened. Why Ollie Stone left that out, I have no idea. How many kids could han­dle that?

  • I agree it’s a great record­ing to be able to hear, but the sto­ry about Jim Mor­ri­son jam­ming with two street musi­cians in Paris just before his death isn’t true. It was made up by the mak­ers of this boot­leg to sell copies.

    You can read the true sto­ry behind this record­ing here: http://www.thedoorsguide.com/research/lostparistapes.html

    Wreck­ing Crew Direc­tor: I’d love to hear more about that poet­ry read­ing in Atlanta!

  • Joe says:

    Hey, I’ll answer this one. This isn’t An Amer­i­can Prayer Mal­colm Hume. Guess that’s it, uh? Also, no artist is being hurt because Jim is dead.

  • Diogo Pereira Cabral says:

    I love Jim Mor­ri­son and his poet­ry, and i have found out that there were only a few web­sites that have some of his poems. So i decid­ed to cre­ate one that is a com­pi­la­tion of all Jim Mor­risons poems, i thought peo­ple would like to know. Here it is: http://www.jimmorrisonpoetry.com

  • Brad Aldy says:

    Those weren’t even record­ed in Paris. It was record­ed on his birth­day Decem­ber 8, 1970. I have heard the Paris tapes and they actu­al­ly were record­ed in Paris.

  • Diogo Pereira Cabral says:

    Hi every­one,

    Just to let you know that i have placed the Jim Mor­ri­son poet­ry web­site back online, but i could­n’t get the old domain, so i have changed the domain to https://www.jimmorrisonpoems.com/
    It is the same as before, and i have added a few more poems. Hope you like it.

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