Jim Morrison Accurately Predicts the Future of Electronic Music in 1969

Jim Mor­ri­son didn’t fare par­tic­u­lar­ly well, health-wise, in the last years of his life. Alco­holism took a heavy toll, as we know. “Images of him with the shag­gy beard, hair reced­ing at the tem­ples, and excess flesh gath­er­ing around the armpits,” writes Rob Fis­ch­er at Rolling Stone, “can resem­ble, in ret­ro­spect, T.J. Miller more than Father John Misty. This is the out-to-seed drunk­ard that Val Kilmer por­trays in Oliv­er Stone’s icon­ic film The Doors.” It is also an unfor­tu­nate car­i­ca­ture that leaves out the cre­ative and intel­lec­tu­al ener­gy still left in the artist once called “the first major male sex sym­bol since James Dean died and Mar­lon Bran­do got a paunch.”

There was always more to Mor­ri­son than that, and in the 1969 inter­view above, filmed over a week in L.A. with Rolling Stone’s Jer­ry Hop­kins, he is still “remark­ably sharp,” Fis­ch­er writes.

Even though the con­ver­sa­tions includ­ed many rounds of whiskey, scotch and beer, his respons­es give the impres­sion of a thought­ful and engaged artist strug­gling to real­ize the full extent of his already colos­sal pow­ers of expres­sion. He was read­ing wide­ly, writ­ing poet­ry, grav­i­tat­ing more towards film­mak­ing, all while long­ing to recon­nect with the explo­sive ener­gy that comes with play­ing small venues and clubs like the Whiskey a Go Go.

Mor­ri­son and the Doors were exper­i­men­tal artists, tak­ing musi­cal risks and sell­ing them with sex. The Doors were the first rock band, for exam­ple, to use the new Moog syn­the­siz­er on an album. Even before Wendy Car­los’ Switched-On Bach intro­duced pop­u­lar audi­ences to the tech­nol­o­gy of audio syn­the­sis in 1968, the band brought jazz musi­cian Paul Beaver into the 1967 record­ings ses­sions for Strange Days to use Moog for effects on sev­er­al tracks and to dis­tort Mor­rison’s voice.

Beaver, an ear­ly adopter of the syn­the­siz­er, pro­duced two sem­i­nal Moog records in the late six­ties: The Zodi­ac: Cos­mic Sounds (1967) with Mort Gar­son and dou­ble album The None­such Guide to Elec­tron­ic Music (1968) with Bernie Krause.

There­fore, when Mor­ri­son, in his astute analy­sis of Amer­i­can music, “pre­dicts” the future of elec­tron­ic music in 1969 dur­ing the course of his inter­view with Hop­kins, he knows of what he speaks. He’s already seen it, and being the hip guy that he was, he had like­ly heard the work of elec­tron­ic pio­neers Sil­ver Apples and maybe even of the band White Noise, a side project of BBC Radio­phon­ic Work­shop com­pos­er Delia Der­byshire that pro­duced music far ahead of its time that very year — music made almost exact­ly the way he describes:

I can kind of envi­sion one per­son with a lot of machines, tapes and elec­tron­ics set up, singing or speak­ing while using machines.… 

At the end of the brief clip at the top, we hear Hop­kins ignore this idea and move Mor­ri­son back to talk­ing about rock. But Jim had already moved on — and so had the cul­ture, he knew. The music he describes was hap­pen­ing all around him, and we might imag­ine he was a lit­tle frus­trat­ed that oth­er peo­ple could­n’t hear it. What Mor­ri­son brought to it, how­ev­er — or might have, had he lived — was the lyri­cal, the sen­su­al, the per­for­ma­tive, the melo­dra­mat­ic, and the tru­ly fright­en­ing, all qual­i­ties it would take new wave and goth acts like Echo and Bun­ny­men, Depeche Mode, and a host of Doors-influ­enced dark wave bands to bring to fruition in the elec­tron­ic music of future past.

via Messy Nessy

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How the Moog Syn­the­siz­er Changed the Sound of Music

This Is “The End”: A Video Explo­ration of The Doors’ Exis­ten­tial Epic

The Doors’ Ray Man­zarek Walks You Through the Writ­ing of the Band’s Icon­ic Song, “Rid­ers on the Storm”

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

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  • Eduard K says:

    As I was read­ing your arti­cle, I just hap­pened to be lis­ten­ing to You’re Lost Lit­tle Girl from Strange Days.
    Moog voice sound effects indeed!

    Mor­ri­son is well read — there are many “books that Mor­ri­son read” lists, includ­ing many book titles from Man­zarek and Dens­more’s biogra­phies.

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