June 9, 2007

Jomo and The Smoothies – Jim Morrison’s lost poetry tapes

I find it a bit humorous and regretful that my first real Doors post (in over a year and a half of doing this? How is that possible?) is really quite . . . inaccessible. It’s not even much music, but poetry instead. But it fascinates me by virtue of being a lost little bit of musical history, which you know I love to read up on.

If you’ve ever had a hankering for poetry about Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding, intense visitations of energy, new hands, and obeying the moon, then you will love this mp3. I’m also pretty sure that it feels really profound if you’re high. Portions of these sessions were released as An American Prayer, but other things off here are a bit harder to find.
In the Spring of 1969 and Summer of 1971 (just weeks before his death), Jim Morrison went into recording studios and laid down tapes of his poetry. This mp3 combines the two sessions into one continuous recording, an uncut 51-minute session in the studio, where you can hear all kinds of background conversations, liquid pouring into glasses (I’m guessing it wasn’t water), messups, tuning, and re-takes. The first 36 minutes are the earlier session (I believe recorded in LA, not Paris), and the last final session of 1971 starts after that.

The final 14 minutes in Paris are Jim with some unknown street musicians (Jomo and The Smoothies), and they sound to be extremely intoxicated (the whooping, difficulty tuning, and gargling kinda gives it away). In the spirit of the day they call each other things like “cat,” and they say “far out” a lot. Around 43 minutes, you can hear Jim’s craaazy song “Orange County Suite,” a wandering piece about girlfriend/common-law wife Pamela Courson, where he forgets the words. Here is some detail on the 14 minute Paris recording, which I found here and here:

On one of his walks through the narrow streets of St-Germain des-Près one day [Jim] discovered a recording studio, and went there again on June 16th to listen to a reel-to-reel tape of the poetry he had recorded in March 1969 in Los Angeles. On stepping out of the studio in search of liquid refreshment, he stumbled upon two young American street musicians who were playing guitar in front of the Café de Flore.

The guitarist wore a buckskin jacket, and the singer wore a cowboy hat. They were murdering Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young songs, one after the other. Jim, pretty drunk, loved them immediately. After they performed “Marrakesh Express” and nobody gave them any money, Jim introduced himself and graciously invited them to have a drink. He told them about the nearby recording studio and asked if they felt like walking over with him and doing a session. The two guys couldn’t believe it.

“Wait, man, hold on,” one said. “You are shitting us, right? Are you really Jim Morrison?” An hour later, they found themselves in the studio. Jim told the engineer it was his own band called Jomo And The Smoothies and paid for an hour of recording. The fifteen-minute tape has survived.

“I get twenty-five percent of everything that happens, right?” he told the musicians. The others tuned their guitars. This took a fairly long time while the tape was running, and it sounded horrible. Jim grinned “They’re tolerating us until we get our asses in gear,” he said.

But the three musicians failed to make decent recordings of songs they knew, although one guitarist suggested songs like ‘Little Miss Five Feet Five’, ‘Three Little Fishes’ and ‘I Wanna Dance With My Indigo Sugar’. Even when it came to his own material, Jim couldn’t quite remember all the lyrics of his ode to Pamela, ‘Orange County Suite’, screaming and yelling the hazy parts. The session ended after only 14 minutes and the engineer cut the tape. Jim and the two others listened to the tape again, but decided not to record more. Jim scribbled “JOMO AND THE SMOOTHIES” onto the box and put it into a plastic bag in which he also put the poetry tape and a few other belongings.

Now maybe I should be cosmically zapped for questioning the Great Lizard King (who has, like other musicians, become an untouchable martyr of sorts in death), but when I listen to some of the impassioned poetry portions of this recording, a part of me definitely pictures the bearded Will Ferrell in the hot tub reading these aloud to his lover.

But there’s also something very vulnerable and lonely about these sessions, the latter of which was recorded only two weeks before he died in his bathtub in Paris. The Paris session is also probably the only thing he recorded during his time in the City of Lights, while the popularity of the Doors was hitting an insane pitch in the U.S., and he was trying to escape it all. Jim was only 27 when he died – that’s my age. He looks a lot older.
(the picture below, also used for that unofficial “album cover” above, was from his personal collection, probably taken by Pamela, on 6/28/71)

The Lost Paris Tapes – Jomo & The Smoothies (Jim Morrison)

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August 30, 2006

Odds & ends

Ûž News of the day (well, MY day, anyways) is that The Lemonheads have announced Fall tour dates. Yippee!

Ûž Forget Busted Tees, man. If you truly want to stand out (in an ironic, laid back way) at all the back-to-school parties this fall, make yourself up a Chuck Norris-ism shirt on this site. Mine would probably read: “Chuck Norris has two speeds: Walk and Kill.” Read some of my other favorites in this post, or visit the mother archive here. Dang funny.

No wait, I just saw this and I think I want my shirt to read: “Helen Keller’s favorite color is Chuck Norris.”

(That’s gonna be one that my dad calls about and says, “Heather? I don’t understand that joke on your blog.”)

Ûž Several of you have emailed me looking for a place that you can buy the new Ryan Auffenberg EP, Under All The Bright Lights. The good news is that it is now available on CDBaby! It gave me quite a kick to see that the description of the artist on the CDBaby website is a snippet from yours truly. I laughed out loud at that one.

Related download: Check out the acoustic session that Ryan did with iChannel (free download, right click save as).

Ûž For you Pearl Jam fans, I found this great lil blog with a bunch of live shows available for download. It’s creatively entitled “Pearl Jam Bootlegs,” and there’s some fantastic stuff on there.

Ûž For you completists, there is a Doors Box Set (“Perception“) coming out on November 21: “This collection offers up re-mastered versions of the Doors’ six studio albums on both CD and DVD, complete with rare video and audio tracks such the seventeen-minute cut “Celebration of the Lizard” and a previously unreleased version of “Indian Summer,” among other alternate takes and rarities. Hyperion will also release the first authorized autobiography of the band, “The Doors by the Doors,” on November 7th.”

Remember that Doors movie with Val Kilmer? Remember the scene when he is running around (as I recall) naked, stoned out of his mind? In high school my friend Lance and I decided to watch that movie on Christmas Day one year. His whole extended family was there. I remember being embarassed. That’s my best Doors story.

Ûž You know those times when you just need to say “FRICK yeah. I am AWESOME” to the naysayers in your life (or into the mirror)? Well Fabulist has put together a three-part series of “Confidence Rock.” And. It. Is. Awesome. (I mean, it includes the song from Karate Kid. It doesn’t get much better than that).

Ûž Ten years since Trainspotting? Aquarium Drunkard has a nice soundtrack featurette on the jumpy British flick that turned a generation on to all things Brit-Pop. “Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a starter home. Choose dental insurance, leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose your future. But why would anyone want to do a thing like that?”

Ûž What WOULD Uncle Jesse do? That is an excellent question that, until now, we have not had a website to answer.

Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) shares a birthday with me, and I share some some of his swaggering coolness (I like to think so, anyways). So now I can hypothetically run through a host of scenarios and see what Full House’s coolest uncle might have done.

Ûž The Scatter’O'Light post on Michael Hutchence made me think of this picture that I once saw in a fantastic music exhibit:

Regardless of your feelings on the INXS topic, is that not a SUPERB photograph? I love it.

Her post also made me think of this song, still my favorite INXS song ‘cuz it makes me think of dancing in my friend Britt’s bedroom at the age of ten. I can’t describe the dance we were doing, but I can picture it clearly in my head. I contend that this is still a great song – listen to that harmonica! Flashback of the day:

Suicide Blonde” – INXS

May 22, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

Do you want to know what the biggest dilemma of my week to come is foreseen to be? Whether or not to vote on American Idol. Seriously, my life is hard (and I’m such a moron sometimes).

But listen: If I vote, then it is a confirmation to all that is good and holy that I have stooped to CARING about REALITY TV. Lord, no. Even though I am having an American Idol party at my house on Wednesday night.

Here are some good things I have added to my iPod rotation recently:

The 99th Floor
Primal Scream
Riot City Blues, the forthcoming release (June 6) from Scottish post-punk/rockers Primal Scream is a rollicking, bluesy, Stones-tinged romp. Just listen to the sick and sloppy slide steel guitar & blues harp on this one. Also download “Country Girl” over on their MySpace page, another excellent new cut from the formidable UK quartet.

She Doesn’t Get It (acoustic)
The Format
Thanks to Nathaniel‘s insistent love for lithe indie-pop group The Format, I’ve been thoroughly apprised of the upcoming July 11 release of sophomore effort Dog Problems. I was fiercely in love with their perfect pop song “Give It Up” off their 2003 debut Interventions & Lullabies, so hearing that same earnest & warbling voice in this lovely song makes me happy. This is a great acoustic version of a song which will be on their new album — and if you pre-order it on their website, you get a frisbee. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Let Go (solo, piano)
Imogen Heap
As half of the London-based duo/Garden State favorite Frou Frou, the lovely Ms. Imogen Heap recently visited local KBCO up in Boulder, Colorado, and laid down this luminous version of “Let Go,” with just her arresting voice and the ivory keys. Thanks to Don’t Need Anything for posting this.

Strange Days (Doors remix)
Thievery Corporation
I just realized that I am totally unintentionally featuring two artists off the same Garden State soundtrack, which really, I didn’t even love as much as your average 20-something apparently did. However, I am featuring this track, off Thievery Corporation‘s new release Versions, because it just sounded very very good to have a fresh take on The Doors slide across my musical palette. I have been reading excellent reviews of this disc, which features remixes of songs & collaborations with the likes of Nouvelle Vague, Sarah McLachlan, Norah Jones, and Astrud Gilberto. Oh, and I am pretty sure that this song was also featured on Alias recently, accompanying Sydney Bristow on one of her (last few) kickass missions.

Jackson Square
Mason Jennings
Acoustic strummer/sing-shouter Mason Jennings also has a new one out called Boneclouds. I’ve listened to it a few times through, and there aren’t the same standout can’t-help-but-stand-up-and-shake-it tracks as some of his previous releases – this one is more consistently mellow and introspective. Mason is a fine storyteller through his songs, and is able to craft tunes through just very simple guitar & drums most of the time. Plus, his voice has a very, very honest quality to it, which I find appealing.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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