“There’s somebody out there, working in a basement, just inventing a whole new musical form”
The final years of Jim Morrison’s life were famously unkind to the singer once described as the “first major male sex symbol since James Dean died and Marlon Brando got a paunch.” Images of him with the shaggy beard, hair receding at the temples, and excess flesh gathering around the armpits can resemble, in retrospect, T.J. Miller more than Father John Misty. This is the out-to-seed drunkard that Val Kilmer portrays in Oliver Stone’s iconic film The Doors.
But in a series of interviews with Rolling Stone’s longtime correspondent, Jerry Hopkins, conducted in Los Angeles over the course of a week in 1969, Morrison was remarkably sharp. Even though the conversations included many rounds of whiskey, scotch and beer, his responses give the impression of a thoughtful and engaged artist struggling to realize the full extent of his already colossal powers of expression. He was reading widely, writing poetry, gravitating more towards filmmaking, all while longing to reconnect with the explosive energy that comes with playing small venues and clubs like the Whiskey a Go Go.
Nothing in the exchange so illustrates the range of Morrison’s vision, however, as when he prophesied the arrival of electronic dance music. “A lot of people like Mozart were prodigies; they were writing brilliant works at very young ages,” he said, musing on the future of music. “That’s probably what’s going to happen: some brilliant kid will come along and be popular. I can see a lone artist with a lot of tapes and electrical … like an extension of the Moog synthesizer — a keyboard with the complexity and richness of a whole orchestra, y’know? There’s somebody out there, working in a basement, just inventing a whole new musical form.”
Of this undiscovered single-electric-instrument orchestral music, and the lone prodigies readying its arrival, Morrison added, “We’ll hear about it in a couple years. Whoever it is, though, I’d like him to be really popular, to play at large concerts, not just be on records — at Carnegie Hall, to play at dances …”
Insane, right? It would be around a decade before the first murmurings of a fully synthesized dance track found a home in disco. Norman Cook (a.k.a. Fatboy Slim) was six. And Skrillex – who collaborated in 2012 with the then-three living members of the Doors on the song “Breakin’ a Sweat,” which included a vocal sample of Morrison – wouldn’t be born for 19 years.