Morrison was a lover of literature. At a surprisingly young age, he delighted in the works of French poet Arthur Rimbaud and English poet slash painter William Blake. He was drawn to their ability to perceive worlds outside of restriction and repression. Morrison identified with a need to escape rigid establishments and challenge a society pacified by tyranny.
Eerily, Morrison’s life closely mimicked that of Rimbaud. They were both continually tortured by contradictory personality attributes stemming from abandonment from military fathers. These experiences shaped the anti-war themes expressed in songs like “Peace Frog” and “The Unknown Solider.” Morrison’s lyrics, although sometimes containing violent undercurrents, urge the need for peace while underscoring the futility and impotence of war mongering governments. Constant disappointment with social interactions with male figures led to distrust in authority and pre-established societal trends. Morrison speculated, “when you make your peace with authority, you become authority.” Morrison saw authority is a barrier to freedom because it’s burdened with restrictions and regulations. Later in life, Rimbaud and Morrison became vagabonds who no longer associated themselves with their past glory and found disgust in their fame. Much like the Beat lifestyle, they became no part of the world, found distance through travel, and estranged themselves from their renowned work.
Allen Ginsberg had an infamous hallucination involving Blake, where he recounts that Blake, with a godly presence, spoke to him. Details about the vision itself are rather blurry but Blake’s personal philosophies are clear foundational texts for the evolving Beat Generation due to themes of freedom of sexuality and the diminishing of hierarchical societies. Blake notably advocated against the abuse of tyrannical authority and the injustice of power associated with social class. Blake incited a need to rebel against these worldly overlords. Much of Morrison’s poetry is experimental in style and content. Using techniques from his literary idols, he crafts fine works that are seemingly spontaneous in content and form. Regardless of the words or topics, Morrison’s poetry successfully incorporates internal rhythms which translate well into “Beat Pieces” and birthed the stripped down spoken word album “An American Prayer.” Morrison’s body of work and overall attitude shirked the arbitrary authority of capitalism and world governments. Songs like “When the Music’s Over” and “Celebration of the Lizard King” illustrate how greedy capitalist arrogance has depleted nature’s splendors. Morrison’s simplistic assertions capture a brilliantly rebellious spirit ready to break the natural world free from the clutch of organized brutality. His lyrical poetry and music are reminders of the things humanity is destroying. Rather than being lulled into an obedient dream, Morrison challenges us to WAKE UP!