In An American Prayer, the final album from legendary bastions of the counter-culture movement, The Doors, their enigmatic lead singer Jim Morrison is laid bare for all to see. It’s one of the most explosive and exposing albums in their canon. However, there is another set of tapes that has an even deeper insight into the singer’s character — The Lost Paris Tapes.
The 1978 record saw the three surviving members of The Doors add backing music to the unaccompanied poetry readings of Jim Morrison. Originally recorded by Morrison in 1969 and 1970, the readings act as a revelation of the inner conflict Morrison was beginning to succumb to. It provides an engaging listen for those inspired by Morrison and intrigued by his internal moments. It’s not always pleasant listening, but it is always engaging.
An American Prayer was recorded in two stints. Firstly in the spring of 1969 and finally in December of 1970. At the time, Jim Morrison struggled with his swirling alcoholism and the growing pressures of being in The Doors. He decided to move away from the bad circle of friends that snared him in Los Angeles and headed to Paris, France, with his long-time girlfriend, Pamela Courson. Jim Morrison would never return to America, losing his life at the tender age of 27.
However, Morrison left behind one last memento of his talent when he went into the studio for his final recording just weeks before his death. The tapes see Morrison conducting another poetry reading and performance alongside some Parisien street musicians.
Widely trashed by the late, great Ray Manzarek as “drunken gibberish”, Doors and Morrison fans have been circulating this bootleg of the Paris tapes since 1994, which when added to a previously recorded set of readings from 1968, are known as The Lost Paris Tapes.
Far from the recording on An American Prayer, here, Morrison is his unadulterated self, showing off not only his slightly strange sense of humour but also his difficult battle with control alcohol. Away from his band and out on his own, Morrison the poet lets loose on the tracks—a selection of which you can hear below.
The tapes are a wide spectrum of Morrison’s talent. He meanders from the brilliant to the brutish, intellectual to ignorant, and from prophetic to pathetic—The Lost Paris Tapes are the final, and perhaps most revealing, recordings of an artist struggling to manage his own genius.
Have a listen, below.