Friday, March 31, 2017

Once Upon a Time - Jim Morrison and Nico

       When he died, I took my father's Ann Murray album.  He loved "Snowbird."   "Snowbird" was his guilty pleasure.  He couldn't sing at all.  He wasn't off key, he was just a deep bass monotone and he would sing the last part of the song in his drone, "'Oh, little snowbird…'" so funny.  "'And I would fla-a-a-a eye, away with you.'"  Just one note, but just like Ann Murray.   – Jay and the Americans
It's  odd to see that pic of Ann Murray with Nilsson, Lennon, Mickey Dolenz and Alice Cooper – strange bedfellows indeed, but that was the rock scene; kind of a club, or the six degrees of separation. The oddity of that photo is the Genesis of thought for this post on Nico and Jim Morrison. The mis-matched pair were introduced at The Castle, John Philip Law’s 1920s L.A. manse that was rented, pre-Warhol, by Arthur Lee and Love in early 1966. (Law, btw, was Jane Fonda's co-star in the cult-classic, Barbarella.) Introduced by rock manager/journalist Danny Fields who thought they'd make a "cute couple," Nico and Morrison took LSD and later that night purportedly romped naked through the parapets like something out of deSade's Justine. Where was Pamela Courson? Nobody else knows either. This was long before anyone was paying attention to Jim. Here was the Jim who performed in the shadows, back turned to the audience, the London Fog Morrison, a year before crowd surfing at Bido Lido’s; the shy, retiring, art student Jim. It would take another year for the pair's shenanigans to become legendary.

The Castle
The release, in 1967, of The Doors would skyrocket Morrison's fame causing Frank Sinatra to reportedly state (by the valet at Twin Palms, Sinatra's mid-century modern Palm Springs home), "We ought to let that guy have an accident." Frank was allegedly upset that Morrison had snagged Sinatra's crooning style. It was with that kind of notoriety that Morrison, like Kafka's Gregor Samsa, metamorphosed into the Lizard King.

Whiskey Audition
In August of that year, Morrison left Courson and upped his involvement with Nico, who towered over Jim, commandeering the relationship. Once again at The Castle, Morrison tried to teach Nico to write poetry and song, but the sessions were merely escapades of debauchery. Morrison stated that when Nico (still sporting a black eye from her relationship with Brian Jones), "sat on his face" she was "all labia and fur," in retrospect a slight by Morrison on Nico's gaunt frame, the suggestion that (at least figuratively), Jim just wasn't that into her.  There's the sentiment, conversely, that Nico talked things through with Jim (particularly about Jones), that Morrison grounded Nico's wild side, and also the notion that Nico created who Morrison would become (Oh to be a fly on the wall with a time machine).

Nico became obsessed with Morrison and, when he returned to Pam once again, she determined his preference for red-heads, dying her hair. Morrison didn't bite. Nico was a fling, an influential one, but a fling nonetheless. "He had a fetish for shanties with red hair [Nico’s personal slang for red-headed Irish girls]. I was so in love with Jim that I made my own hair red. I wanted to please his taste." Morrison, according to Nico, cried when he saw it, not implying why. She begged him to propose to her, causing him to laugh hysterically. "So I hit him. We hit each other because we were drunk and enjoyed the sensation."  The torrid, on again, off again relationship would last the rest of the year as the pair painted themselves black and blue. Nico would go on to have an affair with John Philip Law (no wait, maybe it was Courson who had the fling), and Morrison, with his conservative values would do every girl in Hollywood, returning at the end of the day to Pamela, March 31, 1967, like a family man , like a day early April Fool.

And so, boys and girls, in the end (pun intended if you like), everyone fucked everyone in the Castle, and hardly anyone lived happily ever after.