Jim & George Morrison and the USS Liberty

I remember a school class we had with the topic on the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s culture, politics, history and so on. Anyway, we saw the horrible and historically incorrect film by Oliver Stone on The Doors. If you’ve read any autobiographies from the two band members you’d know the film was bad. On the bright side, it introduced a lot of people to the band in the 90’s. I was one of them and I still remember hearing the intro to ‘Break on Through’ for the first time. That bossanova rock mixture that starts the song and the haunting voice by Jim Morrison as he sings the first lines.

You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side

That stuck with me for the whole day, so I went to the library and borrowed the CD and played it the whole time, mesmerized and also exposed to new kind of music, with the prolonged solo in Light My Fire starting my curiosity and passion for jam sessions and “extended types of music”. Eventually it all led me to read all the books I could find on the band, the autobiographies and even to look into the the music, writers and art that inspired the band members. I have long since stopped listening to The Doors but it still happens and will always happen. On mystical evenings I love to hear End of the Night, Crystal Ship, Indian Summer, live takes of the hits and so on. While Ray Manzarek was still alive, he really knew hot to tell the bands story.

Jim Morrison and his family were estranged to one another, especially him and his dad. The last time the father and son saw one another was when Jim visited his father onboard the USS Bon Homme Richard. His mom forced him to cut his hair and he reluctantly did. But when he was onboard his father forced him to cut it shorter, and that was the last they saw of each other it is said. There were many more conflicts within the family between the two of course. Also, both were patriots. I remember a passage in a book were some short haired bubba types picked on Jim and his long haired friends. Upon where Jim went straight into their faces screaming I’d die for this country would you?

His father, George Stephen Morrison, was a navy admiral. He opposed the actions USA took after Israel attacked the USS Liberty in 1967. Where 34 US navy men were killed and 171 wounded. He was outspoken and wanted to see a swift military and economic reaction or sanction against Israel for that unprovoked attack. The admiral that stopped the orders of George Morrison to retaliate was admiral John S McCain, father of John McCain. Of course, US politics being as they are, George Morrison would never rise in the ranks again.

Jim’s father wasn’t apparently a zionist and wanted to respond to the attack. A kind of natural patriotic instinct indeed. Something which the USA does all the time, you can’t even slap an American in the face without getting bombed. Well, you can get bombed even if you haven’t done anything if the USA is interested in your country. All it takes is some mega-lies about super weapons or instant terror threats that need further invasion and decade long bombing raids. You get the point, but I digress. Just remember that historical events are most often totally unknown to us, we can only interpret and make informed opinions on the leftover information we have, and are given. But always keep in mind the truth beats fiction all the time.

Both Morrison’s lost something and they lost one another forever.

George Morrison actually held a speech at the decommissioning of his ship USS Bon Homme Richard on the 2nd of July – almost at the same time as his son would die in Paris. Even though Jim died on the 3rd of July it was early in the morning – so you can say both incidents happened within 12 hours. Both Morrison’s lost something and they lost one another forever.

In those years, in the late 1960’s, there were many political murders along with the deaths of many famous people. Of which many remain unclear, unsolved and still debated. Jim’s death is still unsettled and if you watch the video below, his father was told he died in the hospital.

I wanted to make this video as a commemoration for the band and their work that led me into deeper realms of music and art . The name of the band itself opened up doors for me, it was never the end station but a breakaway to further discoveries.

If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.
– The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake

In the end it seems both of the Morrison’s were true to their gut feelings and perhaps if they’d lived two decades later, the cultural schism (the generation gap) wouldn’t have separated them. Here’s George talking about his son.

Header photo is from the book ‘The Doors On the Road’ by Greg Shaw.

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