A Melancholy Dirge: “Ghost Song” by the Doors

Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison

In 1978 The Doors released the album An American Prayer.   By then lead singer Jim Morrison had been dead of a drug overdose in Paris, France for seven years.  What made this release unique is the band overdubbed their musical score with the reading of a mystic poem by the deceased Morrison entitled Ghost Song.

The interpretation of Ghost Song remains a mystery for one main reason – Morrison never told anyone the meaning of his songs/poetry.  His rationale for this silence was he felt it was far more important for the listener to figure out the meaning based on his own life experiences.  However, some clues do exist for those willing to do some digging.  It seems Ghost Song relates to life changing experiences especially when related to childhood and as one ages.

In our opinion (which is no better than anyone else, which would make Morrison happy) the key verse is the fifth stanza.  It goes as follows:

Indians scattered,
On dawn’s highway bleeding
Ghosts crowd the young child’s
Fragile eggshell mind

Morrison often told a story about a drive with his parents into the desert when he was a child.  The family encountered a horrible vehicle crash.  Morrison said the road was littered with seriously injured and dead Indians that had been thrown from both pickup trucks.  He told his parents he wanted to do something to help these poor souls but they said the Indians were beyond saving.  The tragedy had a profound impact on young Jim.  He said he could see the souls of two of the victims dancing angrily on the highway.  Suddenly Morrison said these souls “leaped into my soul and they’re still there.”

The lyrics of Ghost Song follow including a link where you may listen to this melancholy dirge if you choose.

Shake dreams from your hair
my pretty child, my sweet one.
Choose the day and choose the sign of your day
the day’s divinity
First thing you see.

A vast radiant beach and cooled jeweled moon
Couples naked race down by it’s quiet side
And we laugh like soft, mad children
Smug in the wooly cotton brains of infancy
The music and voices are all around us.

Choose they croon the Ancient Ones
the time has come again
choose now, they croon
beneath the moon
beside an ancient lake

Enter again the sweet forest
Enter the hot dream
Come with us
everything is broken up and dances.

Indians scattered,
On dawn’s highway bleeding
Ghosts crowd the young child’s,
Fragile eggshell mind

We have assembled inside,
This ancient and insane theater
To propagate our lust for life,
And flee the swarming wisdom of the streets.

The barns have stormed
The windows kept,
And only one of all the rest
To dance and save us
From the divine mockery of words,
Music inflames temperament.

Ooh great creator of being
Grant us one more hour,
To perform our art
And perfect our lives.

We need great golden copulations,

When the true kings murderers
Are allowed to roam free,
A thousand magicians arise in the land
Where are the feast we are promised?

One more thing

Thank you oh lord
For the white blind light
Thank you oh lord
For the white blind light

A city rises from the sea
I had a splitting headache
From which the future’s made

Again, here is the YouTube link


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