World Comic Book Review

11th April 2024

Morrison Hotel (review)

Writer: Leah Moore

Artists: Various

Doors Property 2021

WHAT A TRIP flying high with poet singer rockstar criminal lover Jim Morrison across the stage and over the crowd in flashing pastel colors while the singer chants “he went down south and crossed the border, left chaos and disorder, back over his shoulder” in time with uglier, rabid rhymes. Pounding rhythms spill across the pages as writer Leah Moore drives through the eleven songs of the classic 1970 Doors album MORRISON HOTEL in vivid text and lyrics, with a dozen different artists changing the mood like changes in melody.

Re-reeling the tempest of 1969 in the songs of Morrison Hotel, composed at the time, reminds one of a generation suspicious of anyone over age 30. By then, the empty conventions of the past decades had surely ruined you. We, the youth of earth choose color, co-habitation, drugs, our own music, our own gods, our own cosmic words. We choose no more war—on us or anyone else. Stop the killing now.

Some of the stories are nicely timed to the length of the portrayed song. We move onstage and off, into dream worlds, and diners in between; also into a jealous home life, jungle war, bad memories of a wounded vet that won’t go away; and many lost loves. Illustrated pages blossomed with text add texture and dimension to the lyrics meandering through each story. The momentum of the music is there, planted physically on the page, yet here one is allowed to pause, ponder, and wistfully run a finger across a scene to press the notes, and imagine a new world, maybe all night long.

Toronto 1969 is the part where I jostled the crowd to get in. I had no idea The Doors played at the concert where John Lennon showed up with a few friends for a famous solo debut. For The Doors, it was near the end. The stars of the show that drew an awestruck Lennon and a huge crowd were the 1950s rock ‘n roll legends Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard. Among the attending musicians is a murmured reverence like a church.

The Doors thrum into life in the background as Jim Morrison addresses the crowd: “I can remember when rock and roll first came on the scene … it burst open whole new strange catacombs of wisdom … and that’s why for me this evening it’s been really a great honor to perform on the same stage with so many illustrious musical geniuses.”

Jim Morrison (1943-1971) clearly had a darker array of experiences and cogitations than I could penetrate grooving on his lyrics with The Doors back in the original high times, and in editions later alone, brilliantly reproduced as here by his living Doors partners. The outlook of The Doors and their principal spokesman always plays in a minor key.

Ship of fools. That must be you. Nowhere to escape.

Jim Morrison now rests restlessly at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, around the corner from Balzac, and across the way from Chopin, where lacey little girls pose for pictures. Abundant old trees and fresh flowers make it feel a little like a garden, a dark garden, where a feast of friends endures.

Of course. Otherwise I shall not go. Maybe just now is the best part of the trip.

*

Just arrived:

The Collected Works of Jim Morrison Poetry, Journals, Transcripts, and Lyrics (2021)