The first time I tasted fear

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

December 8

Jim Morrison 1.jpg1943: Jim Morrison — poet and frontman of The Doors — is born in Melbourne, Florida.

In 1947, Morrison, then 4 years old, allegedly witnesses a car accident in the desert, where a family of Native Americans is injured and possibly killed. He refers to this incident in a spoken-word performance on the song Dawn’s Highway from the album An American Prayer, and again in the songs Peace Frog and Ghost Song.

Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding
Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind

Morrison believes the incident to be the most formative event in his life and makes repeated references to it in the imagery in his songs, poems and interviews. His family does not recall this incident happening in the way he tells it. According to the Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, Morrison’s family did drive past a car accident on an Indian reservation when he was a child, and he was upset by it. However, the book The Doors written by the remaining members of The Doors, explains how different Morrison’s account of the incident is from the account of his father. This book quotes his father: “We went by several Indians. It did make an impression on him. He always thought about that crying Indian.” This contrasts sharply with Morrison’s tale of “Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death”. In the same book, his sister is quoted as saying, “He enjoyed telling that story and exaggerating it. He said he saw a dead Indian by the side of the road, and I don’t even know if that’s true.”

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