“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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