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The Doors Examined Paperback – March 19, 2013
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I found Chapter 7 particularly fascinating because it explores the literary influences upon Jim Morrison, who ached to be “taken seriously as a poet” (85). Unlike most rock reviewers, Cherry acknowledges that “The Doors were a very literary band and when they became famous they practically released a reading list for fans, mentioning the beats such as Jack Kerouac, Arthur Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and Hart Crane . . . ” (85).
He points out that Morrison spent time in Beat Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore when his family lived in San Francisco. Giving a brief biography of another “restless” poet, Weldon Kees, who disappeared mysteriously after achieving publication success in major literary magazines and releasing his first book, THE LAST MAN, Cherry draws a connection between him and Morrison. In fact, he shares the Kee’s poem, “Subtitle” and Morrison’s “The Movie” from AN AMERICAN PRAYER. Both poems present the image of life as a surreal presented via the cinema. In Kees’ version, it’s a film sans “human voice[s]” and synchronized “with/squealing of pigs, slow sounds of guns/The sharp dead click/Of empty choclatebar machines” (87-88), whereas Morrison’s poem is spoken by a persona who enters a movie theater to see his “birth . .life . . .death” and ends in questions about the validity of his life (89).
Cherry also explores Jack Kerouac’s influence upon Morrison (and that generation), and includes The Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek’s quip, “I suppose if Jack Kerouac had never written On the Road, The Doors never would have existed. (90). Yet, Cherry offers another insight:
Manzarek might have added that if Jack Keroac
hadn’t written ON THE ROAD, none of the late ‘60s
might have happened the way they did, with kids hitting
the road in search of themselves and transcendental
experiences that Kerouac had described in his novels (90).
Cherry goes on to analyze “anecdotal evidence” hinting that Morrison met Kerouac, discuss the affect of JFK’s assassination upon Morrison, who later included assassins in his works THE LORDS and THE NEW CREATURES. Of course, Cherry also explores William Blake’s influence, including, of course, the impact of the poet’s words upon the rock band’s name.
Please note that I would have whizzed through this book with its smooth, rockin’ style much more quickly, but I've been compiling, editing, and proofreading GIMME YOUR LUNCH MONEY: Heartland Poets Speak out against Bullies. So I've had to weave it in between doing this, giving poetry readings from CROSSING KANSAS, and finishing Tolstoy's WAR AND PEACE.
Nevertheless, THE DOORS EXAMINED’s collection of facts and insights into The Doors' influences and experiences have helped me as I write more poems about Morrison. In a year or two, expect an expanded, second edition of my poetry book. Thank you, Jim Cherry, for your influence.
The Doors Examined was an easy and in depth book about the events and people surrounding the Doors. I will read this one again as it gives the reader, not only an overview of the events that happened, but also how people around the Doors (JM)were responding to the events. It is pretty clear that Jim Morrison had a different perspective on the band than the other members, which was instrumental in ending the journey (band and life?). a recommend read -
A weird thing, I had just finished this book and began reading Ray Manzarek's book "Light My Fire" the day before Ray passed, I also had Nirvana in my car the day Kurt Cobain died (made me wonder how Paul Rothchild felt when Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin passed - he worked with both); spooky!
Another great read is John Densmore's "The Doors, Unhinged"
Most fans of The Doors have probably read at least one biography on the band and/or Jim Morrison, if not more, and will be familiar with their history to some extent, so it's nice to open a book in a different format, with a different angle for a change : it's not in sequence, it's a selection of articles grouped thematically that one can read in any order. Vignettes that are as many facets as the snakeskin Jim was referring to in a 1970 interview with Salli Stevenson. Take a look at one of them, and here's another story for you to read.
'The Doors Examined" is also very factual - there's very little room,if any,for the mythology or urban legends. One thing that also makes "The Doors Examined" original is its emphasis on the Doors' legacy in modern culture, from hip hop to ballet dancing or theater. The Doors were always more than a straight rock n' roll band (even if this is also what they were, and were so damned good at it) and it is quite obvious in their legacy. If you are a curious person, you will probably want to know more about an author, a book or a movie mentioned by Jim Cherry.
There are a couple of minor mistakes here and there (regarding the release date of an album or the origins of a live recording) but this is nit-picking.
Anyone interested in the Doors should get this pocket encyclopedia !
Note : The Doors Examined includes a foreword by the amazing Tony Funches who worked, among other legendary musicians, for the Doors and became their friend. The man is too humble to let people call him a legend but anyway, he's one for me. Mr Funches is very gracious to the Doors fans and always has his BS detector on : if there's an endorsement from him, that means the book is reliable, period.