Monday, February 19, 2018

Love Street

In 1966, Jim Morrison was living at 8201 Rothdell Trail in Laurel Canyon with Pamela Courson. Across from the young couple’s apartment was the Canyon Country Store, a popular shopping destination for locals. Each day a stream of tie-dyed hippies and beatniks paraded by Morrison’s apartment. Watching the scene from his balcony day by day, Morrison dubbed Rothdell Trail "Love Street." When Jim sang of the "store where the creatures meet," he was talking about the Canyon Country Store. The girl of the song was, of course, Pamela Courson, the woman that would be with him until the day he died.

Morrison never quite fit in with the idyllic hippie image of the era. In fact, he was in many ways its counterpoint. His friends and family recall a sensitive, intelligent, and compassionate individual, but there is no denying that he had another side - that of the hard drinking, confrontational, sometimes cruel iconoclast. His dark tendencies seemed to grow along with his fame, like a shadow at the end of the day. He had a propensity for life-threatening, daredevil acts, swinging from rooftops or driving his car towards the cliffs atop Mulholland Drive, slamming on the brakes to skid to a halt at only the last moment.

Pamela Courson, a vivacious, petite redhead from Weed, California, possessed a deceptive wildness of her own. Many feel she only pushed Morrison’s exploits even further. In fact, she was often the one working the brakes on those Mulholland games of chicken. They were a wild, energetic pair always trying to ride the peak of life’s wave. Courson liked to smoke pot, while Morrison preferred LSD. In between their party binges, they would get B12 shots at UCLA to rejuvenate their systems. 

Yet it was a volatile relationship. As the story goes, in 1966, Pamela Miller (groupie of all groupies, member of The GTOs), a huge fan of the Doors' live performances, recognized the strains of "The End" radiating about the Canyon Country Store. Knowing that the song had not yet been released on LP, Miller was curious about who was playing it. She followed the music to a house and peered through the door. Inside was Morrison clad only in leather pants and digging through the refrigerator. The ensuing conversation between the two led to Miller doing backbends for Jim's appraisal. In so doing, her dress dropped over her head as Pam Courson entered the room in a tirade. As Miller fled from the apartment, she could hear vinyl records being smashed against the walls inside the house, testament to the volatility she narrowly escaped.

Yet beyond the mythology, beyond the glimmer that rock 'n' roll casts upon its highest deities, Morrison was ultimately a troubled, self-destructive figure. While the band recorded Morrison’s vocals for its first album, Rothchild turned to guitarist Robby Krieger and said, "We'd better get as much of this stuff from Jim as possible, as fast as possible, because he's not going to make it.”"

"Love Street" was released as the B-side to "Hello, I Love You," and while outwardly a little ditty about a couple in love, the backstory is one that, along with songs like John Phillips "12:30" created a mystique about the canyon that lives on today.

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