Wild Young Minds: 'When you're strange': a documentary about The Doors

Sunday, January 27, 2013

'When you're strange': a documentary about The Doors

Johnny Depp narrating the story of The Doors and Jim Morrison in particular. That is perfection.
Enfant terrible Jim Morrison lived an outrageous life. He used all sorts of drugs, misbehaved enormously on stage and had sex with many of his groupies. But Jim Morrison was also a legendary singer and poet, with a whole new sound - an inspiration of many artist to come.

'When you're strange', a 2009 documentary written by Tom DiCillo, tells the story of The Doors - from the early beginning, four unexperienced guys playing music in the garage, to their peak in the late sixties. This is accompanied by many interesting fragments of concerts, studio recordings and fragments of a bearded Jim Morrison on the road. I never lost interest while watching this documentary and that means a lot for a documentary.

As mentioned before, the members of The Doors (Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby krieger) formed the group in 1965 though having little experience. They met in cinema school and, especially Jim Morrison, lived a bohemian life. Sitting on roof tops in California, using lsd, reading a lot of beatnik books and writing poetry.

The first album of The Doors was mostly influenced by blues. It included songs as ´Love her madly´, ´Light My Fire´, ´People are Strange´ and ´Touch me´. Their best songs, if you ask me. The group  became the supporting program of Van Morrison among others. It soon became clear that Jim Morrison - who comes off rather easy-going at first sight in my opinion - did things exactly the way he wanted to do them. When The Doors were invited at the Ed Sullivan show, they agreed on singing an adapted version of ´Light My Fire´, but when they were performing, Jim Morrison sang their original version anyway.

´´I´m interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that appears to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road toward freedom´´, Jim Morrison once said. And this was exactly how he behaved during a lot of their concerts. He went totally crazy, even showed his dick to the audience one time. This led to an arrest and a breakdown for Jim Morrison and the band - since a lot of cities declined to welcome their during their tour.

Jim Morrison´s personal life was disorderous as well. He had a long relationship with Pam Courson, but cheated on her on regular basis (though they had some sort of open relationship, complicated story yes), with Nico and Janis Joplin among others. He hardly had any contact with his family, for his father disapproved of his career, telling him in a letter, to: ´´give up any idea of singing or any connection with a music group because of what I consider to be a complete lack of talent in this direction´´.

 After a few depressions Jim Morrison said he was going to leave the band and move to Paris with Pam. He did. The band was nothing without Jim Morrison anymore. He made them one of the most inspiring groups for the protest generation. But Jim Morrison chose to go to Paris. At first,  life was good for him here, but on a particular day in 1971, Jim was found dead in a bathtub. It´s still not sure how he died exactly - most probably it was a heroin overdose.

Jim Morrison joined the 27 club, which already had members as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. It always fascinates me, how such talented and mad (right?) persons aren´t given a long existence. Of course, it´s their own fault, but it´s such a shame for the world that there´s so little work made. Jim Morrison could have - and would have - made so much more amazing songs (credits to the other members of the Doors too of course) and poems. But let´s cherish what there is - and that´s emphasized in the documentary very good. So I´d say: have a look.

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