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Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison Paperback – November 7, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
While for the most part covering familiar territory in tedious fan-club style, this tome does present credible new material about the death of its subject, Doors singer Jim Morrison. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Tortured visionary and bumbling drunk--two sides of ``The Lizard King'' that emerge from this lengthy but less-than-probing biography of the late rock star. Riordan (a Rolling Stone contributor) and Prochnicky (a self-professed veteran Morrison scholar) attempt to retrace Morrison's ``aural, visual, and psychological journey'' through ``a fun house mirror'' of Sixties-style metaphysics. They recount Morrison's repressive childhood under a Navy captain father, his youth as school misfit and troublemaker, his post-college life as a Venice beach-bum, and his subsequent descent into an acid- inspired ``spiritual netherworld.'' Morrison comes across as an insecure but creatively driven man prone to extreme mood swings, and an emotional manipulator who ``enjoyed dangling people from his own self-styled parapet.'' In some respects, he seems a hippie Oscar Wilde who strove for recognition as a serious poet only after establishing a notorious persona. But it is less the star and more the martyr that surfaces here, with gruesome accounts of Morrison being beaten by cops, lambasted by finicky critics, verbally abused by audiences, and incessantly drained by a neurotic girlfriend. Riordan and Prochnicky try to bolster the Morrison mythos by mentioning his love of Nietzsche, romantic attachment to shamanism, undying interest in film history, and gift for surrealist thinking that nurtured his work but abetted his ``failing to draw the line between art and life, business and pleasure, self-instruction and self-destruction.'' Unfortunately, they sidestep any fresh or bold interpretations of Morrison's mystique, resorting to redundant drugstore psychologisms and a disturbing zeal to discount any allegations of Morrison's thinly veiled homosexual side. Worse, the authors promise to delve into Morrison's subtle lyrics but opt instead for shallow and rushed summaries. Candid and articulate but essentially a star-struck reminiscence that fails to transcend the packaged legend. For more compact and worthy biographies of Morrison, see David Dalton's Mr. Mojo Risin' and Dylan Jones's Jim Morrison (p. 466). (Twenty-five b&w photographs--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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My favorite passages in the book first had to do with generational separateness felt by each generation:
"Morrison said that each generation wants new symbols to divorce themselves from the preceding generation and he seems to have been right."
Also a discussion of doubt: Riordan understands well the creative process, it's ups and downs and doubt, its ultimate killer. As one who writes and must necessarily question motivation and meaning of given passages, I know that remaining objective and non-judgmental is a continual challenge. This paragraph brought me to tears as I faced that truth head on:
"...that being an artist for the long haul means more than harnessing sudden and terrible inspirations. It means being willing to study and grow in one's character as well as one's art. It means overcoming toil and trouble and mastering that enemy of all creative forces— doubt."
As can be ascertained by these short quotes, this is more than a sensationalistic book aimed at the teen crowd, the ones that demanded "light my fire" and stopped getting that Jim took himself and thus his craft (he fancied himself more the poet than the rock star) much more seriously than the young fans who embraced him as a sex god, would allow.
A final enlightening understanding of how many whom have supposedly made it in the big time of rock and roll, and then creatively dried up may rest in this final paragraph worth noting, though there are many salient observations also worth noting, this one caught my eye:
"One way of looking at Jim Morrison's life and death is as a testimony to that offensive myth that claims artists are somehow a race apart and thereby entitled to the most outrageous actions imaginable in the name of art. The sad truth is that such insane tolerance contributes to their drying up as artists. Most of the rock 'n' roll heroes from the sixties who managed to survive the decade have proven this out by ending up having nothing to say. If everyone around an artist is catering to his whims or sheltering him from the consequences of his actions, he will lose touch, first with his art, then with his audience, and finally with himself."
I could not put it down and even at his low points, he appears to have "broken through!"