When Jim Morrison died aged just 27 in 1971 in France, he had already left behind an immortal musical legacy as the mystical frontman of The Doors. The band struck gold early on with the release of their eponymous debut album in 1967. Their formula of poetic psychedelic blues struck a chord with the blossoming counterculture of babyboomer USA and soon found its way to foreign shores.
Over the five decades since his death, Morrison’s legacy has been warped increasingly into something mystical and godlike, thanks to his deeply spiritual and enigmatic persona in life and his the mystery surrounding his demise.
Fans seeking out the late frontman’s favourite of his own back catalogue will be met with yet another mystery. When asked for a favourite of their own musical creations, some artists are straight to the point, and they can confidently single out a track they’re most proud of. For instance, Liam Gallagher has said for many years that his favourite Oasis song is unequivocally ‘Live Forever’.
Other artists may refrain from choosing a favourite because their songs are like their children; deep down, there may be a favourite, but it would be unspeakable to spread love unevenly. While Morrison couldn’t pick his favourite Doors song, this wasn’t his reasoning.
When asked by Rolling Stone in 1969 whether there were any of The Doors songs that he liked more than others, Morrison replied: “I tell you the truth, I don’t listen to the stuff much. There are songs I enjoy doing more in person than others. I like singing blues — these free, long blues trips where there’s no specific beginning or end. It just gets into a groove. I can just keep making up things. And everybody’s soloing. I like that kind of song rather than just a song. You know, just starting on a blues and just seeing where it takes us.”
He continued saying that the songs that he liked to perform live the most were the ones that gave certain freedom to the band to jam on stage and improvise throughout. “It starts off with a rhythm,” Morrison said. “You don’t know how it’s going to end up or how long it’s going to be or really what it’s about, until it’s over. That sort I enjoy best. I get a rhythm, a river of sound rolling along. I can just completely relax and not worry about time or how it’s going to begin or end or what I’m going to say. But not all people enjoy listening to that.”
Morrison continued to mention that it wasn’t possible to improvise with a lot of The Doors’ completed songs because before they were recorded, they were changing every time the band jammed and rehearsed. But when they finally recorded the tracks on an album, they would reach the ceiling of perfection. Once this ceiling was found, it was feared that improvisation would only serve to mar the music.