Read Jim Morrison’s poem for The Rolling Stones’ founder Brian Jones from 1969
Jim Morrison wasn’t only The Lizard King, nor the lead singer of the ’60s counter-culture band The Doors. No, he was also an incredible poet. None more so is this seen than in his perfect poem ‘Ode to L.A. While Thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased’, written in 1969.
Morrison has always lived outside the realm of what the establishment thought a singer should be. Neither concerned with his image or his reputation, Morrison defied the critics and always kept the beating heart of a poet centre stage.
It was a passion for literature and words that Morrison had gathered from very early on in life. Radical Reads reports how a high school friend remembered Morrison as a bit of an outcast who took deeply to his readings: “He had tons of books over there in his basement room and I’d go over there and look at them and I didn’t have a clue as to what most of that stuff meant,” they detail. “Morrison devoured that stuff when he was a teenager and he was in another world and you have to wonder how that affected him.”
The friend continued, acknowledging Morrison’s literary prestige: “The whole point is that he was so far advanced in terms of literature he took in and he really seemed to become what he read sometimes.”
His English teacher also shared this view of the growing literary mind of Morrison and it’s eccentric preferences: “Everything he read was so completely offbeat. I had another teacher who was going to the Library of Congress to check to see if the books Jim was reporting on actually existed or he was making it up. English books on sixteenth and seventeenth-century demonology…other kids were reading authors represented in our anthology, and Jim was reading Burton’s studies on Arab sexuality.”
This winding literary road of Morrison’s journey would see him become infatuated with the subversive and confusing subject matter, relishing in the profundity of provocation. It would seep into his lyrics but also find it’s way out of Morrison through more conventional forms as The Lizard King continued to write poetry throughout his time with the band.
One such ode was his poem for Brian Jones. The poem was a mainstay of the band’s live concerts during that time as it was passed out to the crowd before many of their gigs. Printed on bleached green paper and with olive green ink the pamphlet is a thing of beauty without considering the touching contents.
As confirmed by Alan Graham’s notes saying that Morrison was “passing the poem out to everyone he met. It was published in pamphlet form on pale green bleached parchment with olive green ink.”
Written not only about his beloved hometown L.A. the poem has more resonance with the subject of Brian Jones. The founding member of The Rolling Stones was found dead at age 27 in his swimming pool on July 3rd, 1969, and paid tribute to the star as a mythical figure.
Only two years later Morrison’s own untimely death came at the same age and also saw his body found in a body of water.
Take a look below at the poem printed on the pamphlet and transcribed below that.
I’m a resident of a city They’ve just picked me to play the Prince of Denmark
All those ghosts he never saw Floating to doom On an iron candle
Come back, brave warrior Do the dive On another channel
Hot buttered pool Where’s Marrakesh Under the falls the wild storm where savages fell out in late afternoon monsters of rhythm
You’ve left your Nothing to compete w/ Silence
I hope you went out Smiling Like a child Into the cool remnant of a dream
The angel man w/ Serpents competing for his palms & fingers Finally claimed This benevolent Soul
Leaves, sodden in silk
Chlorine dream mad stifled Witness
The diving board, the plunge The pool
You were a fighter a damask musky muse
You were the bleached Sun for TV afternoon
horned-toads maverick of a yellow spot
Look now to where it’s got You
in meat heaven w/ the cannibals & jews
The gardener Found The body, rampant, Floating
Lucky Stiff What is this green pale stuff You’re made of
Poke holes in the goddess Skin
Will he Stink Carried heavenward Thru the halls of music
Requiem for a heavy That smile That porky satyr’s leer has leaped upward