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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 355
Sun, Jan 06, 2013

“The Celebration of the Lizard”
The Doors

1969

“♫ Lions
in the street
and roaming/
dogs in heat/
rabid, foaming/
a beast caged
in the heart of
a city
♫”

I recently discovered my words reflects a poet that’s the creative offspring of Jim Morrison and Robert Frost. Morrison/Frost perfectly mirrors my traditionally tinged/post modern poetic style. Frost was the first poet whose rhymes inspired me to peak my curiosity into poetry and Jim was the poet who showed me my inner strength and whose spark influenced me to begin penning my own verses. “The Road Not Taken” may have opened the door but Morrison’s “The Celebration of the Lizard” is the epic poem that captivated me into my craft of choice.

Besides “Mr. Mojo Risin’,” “I am the Lizard King” is probably the most famous alter-ego of James Douglas Morrison. Originally heard by Doors fans as the spoken word exclamation at the coda of “Not To Touch The Earth,” on Waiting for the Sun; “The Lizard King” was a part of whole slithering medley of poems that Morrison reclaimed as “The Celebration of the Lizard.”

But, why celebrate a lizard? Morrison found a metaphorical kinship with his fellow reptilian creatures when he explained, “We must not forget that the lizard and the snake are identified with the unconscious and with the forces of evil. There’s something deep in human memory that responds strongly to snakes. Even if you’ve never seen one. I think that a snake just embodies everything that we fear.” My creative Gemini self was intrigued by Morrison’s trip. I had my own fears seething inside of me and was still years away from reflecting the truth I was to terrified to be. I wasn’t ready to embrace my poetic mantle. I had so miles to go before I could contemplate those contradictions battling deep inside me. “The Celebration of the Lizard” is a journey of Jim’s facing his own fear of the snake by embracing the reptilian aesthetic; Morrison found strength with his guise of words transforming himself into his self-created “Lizard King.”

The Doors drummer John Densmore actually saw “Celebration” as Morrison’s excuse to unleash his inner madness, while addressing his now deceased lead singer, in Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors, when he wrote “You were beginning to hate your public image, which in a later interview you admitted to consciously creating. One of the lines in “Celebration of the Lizard” marked the turning point, when you started to buy your own press image and lose your sense of humor about taking public admiration too seriously. Was it a case of you living out your myth, or of the myth turning on you? Buying that lizard skin suit might have been a clue.”

For the inexperienced Doors fan, “The Celebration of the Lizard” was an imperfect epic that never found the light in the studio during the Waiting for The Sun Sessions. Consisting of a plethora of Jim Morrison poems: “Lions in the Street;” “Wake Up!;” “A Little Game;” “The Hill Dwellers;” “Not to Touch the Earth;” “Names of the Kingdom” and “The Palace of Exile;” Morrison’s complicated Pièce de résistance never made on a studio album but “The Lizard King” finally made it’s appearance, it in it’s entirety, on The Doors concert document Absolutely Live.

Jim described his feelings about “Lizard” when he said, “ I like “The Celebration,” though it’s not a great version of that piece, but I’m glad we went ahead and put it out, because if we hadn’t put it on a live album, we would have shelved it forever. I’m glad that we did it even in the imperfect form in which [“Lizard”] exists.” This unfinished epic was supposed to follow the lyrical connection of “The End” from The Doors debut, “When The Music’s Over” on Strange Days; Jim wanted “Lizard” to be the opus of his grand epic trilogy when he admitted, ““The Celebration of the Lizard” was an invitation to the dark forces.” Unfortunately as a result of Jim’s failure to bring his poetic masterpiece to life, the only forces that inhabited The Doors singer unleashed the personal demons that led to the eventual chemical demise of poet we knew as Jim Morrison.

Still, I remember driving around highways of South Texas, when I was a teenager, turning up my cassette copy of Absolutely Live. By rolling down the windows, I always felt like I was letting the poetic power of “The Celebration of the Lizard” drive me towards my next creative inspiration. I realized soon after re-experiencing The Doors “Celebration” that I never really wanted to be a rock star. My future was not in lyrics but couplets, I was reborn on my page to become a poet. It’s not the music but Jim’s words, rhymes and images that lit a spark inside of me. The same light from Robert Frost’s poem that glimpse as a lyrically intrigued child.

I’m still on the same trip. That journey has led me to today. A resurrection of my poetic spirit for 2013 and “The Celebration of the Lizard” reflects this. Robert Frost and Jim Morrison remain my lyrical guides, no longer Waiting for the Sun, I’m on that same road less traveled, heading towards the town of my rebirth — I want to be ready.

And here’s the official outtake, an Experiment/Work In Progress, from the Waiting for the Sun sessions:

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