An American Prayer was released seven years after the death of Jim Morrison. An homage to one of music's most original and unique lyricists, the album features Jim reading his own poetry and lyrics recorded shortly before his death, backed with instrumental tracks by the three surviving Doors.
A line from one of the tracks, “Ghost Song,” is an excellent metaphor for the experience of listening to this for the first time: “We have assembled inside this ancient and insane theatre to propagate our lust for life and flee the swarm of wisdom's restraints.”
A fitting description for this look inside the dark, fertile mind of Morrison. Jim always pushed the limits and flirted on the edge of sanity, legality and death his entire life. He lived with the lust and reckless abandon of someone indifferent to the consequences of his actions, intent only on the experience itself and how people would react to it.
Morrison's poetry has been dismissed and heavily criticized as rambling and unfocused. Often he was accused of just trying to be shocking with his use of crude language and references to sex, drugs and death. I find a savage sort of beauty to it. Crude as some of it may be, it's brutally honest and I always get the feeing of Jim laying out his dark and often twisted thoughts in their raw, unfiltered totality and just stepping back to say "That’s what I think about. I don’t care it you love it or hate it, but there it is.”
The accompanying music is quite unlike most of what the Doors produced in their time with Morrison. Their typical bluesy, psychedelic vibe is morphed into a jazzier sort of groove. The music for the most part is a backdrop for Jim’s voice, but some tracks push the music to the forefront and the overall effect is very satisfying. Many of the words and musical themes from the Doors' traditional songs surface and provide a touchstone to their legacy as a band. A killer live version of “Roadhouse Blues” is also featured.
It’s not something I’d listen to every day, but being a big Doors fan from way back, I loved to throw this in the stereo on occasion, dim the lights and listen to Jim’s soft, smoky voice exploring his first love, the written word.
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