I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A WORD MAN, BETTER THAN A BIRD MAN: JIM MORRISON WAS INDEED A POET AND A PROPHET FOR OUR TIMES.
I was listening to Classical music today and for most of the last few days as I discovered my collection of records I’d inherited from a friend who’d died at the ripe old age of 102 a while back. These records had been hiding in a book shelf behind a large house plant at my old apartment in Québec City and I never got to listen to them. Now that I’ve moved to Port Colborne, Ontario, my new apartment is configured in such a way that these records are accessible, so I’ve been listening to them.
However, today, for some reason, I got an urge to listen to some Classical music of another sort. Classic Rock to be precise. In particular, I had the urge to listen to ‘An American Prayer’ by the Doors. This was a studio album released in 1978 after Jim Morrison’s death and compiled by his three remaining band mates. It was composed of Morrison’s poetry, backing tracks, and spoken-word portions all mixed together. I was originally intending to listen to a portion on side two which had always struck me as being very appropriately-prophetic concerning the situation that America and the rest of the western world finds itself in now.
However, just near the end of side one, another snippet jumped out at me. Morrison says, ‘I’ve always been a word man, better than a bird man.’ This struck me as very personal because as a writer and proponent of the written and spoken word, I’m very much aware to what degree words are an important instrument of freedom of expression and freedom of thought and of conscience.
The ‘bird man’ in this case I’m assuming, is a veiled reference to the famous ‘Bird man of Alcatraz.’ This was a real-life story of a man called Robert Stroud who was imprisoned for life for murder and spent most of his sentence in Leavenworth Prison where he acquired a great deal of knowledge about birds and had a large collection of them in cages. He was eventually transferred to Alcatraz where he was not allowed to keep birds.
However, I believe that the metaphor that Morrison was trying to elicit was that he preferred freedom of expression and liberty through the spoken word over the knowledge that a man like Stroud acquired, albeit great, from the disadvantage of being in prison and not being able to be fulfilled by it, much less benefit from its liberating nature.
Jim Morrison died a very young man at the age of twenty seven but his words live on and I certainly hope, have helped many to know liberation of mind, body and spirit, as I hope that Morrison himself is now free in the afterlife. Stroud also probably ended up knowing true liberation at the time of his death and is now enjoying his reward with Morrison in the company of the angels and the saints in the hereafter.
May all you who hear, see, feel and read, one day know the true liberation of the One True Word Man, the Son of Man, the Word made flesh. May all Word Men and Bird Men one day know His saving Grace and Power. Amen.