I love the music that comes from the mid to late 1960’s to mid 1970’s in the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Eric Clapton, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd and many more. It was at the very height of the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and a time of great growth and pain in our country and the world. The music of that time was filled with passion… to the point of death in many cases. It was psychedelic, spiritual, religious, real. It was a world that I can only read about from the perspective of history.
The other day while Deb and I were driving over to Georgia (see Welcome to Our Living Room // Friday Feet) we were listening to an iPod playlist and Peace Frog by The Doors came on and we started talking about what the song meant. Not at all an uncommon conversation between us when we listen to music together in the car. Deborah’s first reaction was who can fully know what any of Morrison’s songs meant and then it hit me, this is exactly why we still study the Bible today. People still listen to and marvel over Jim Morrison’s music because it isn’t simplistic and easy to figure out. You can just listen to it but you have to dig deep to understand the meaning of some of The Doors songs. That’s what makes their music great and part of history, you can listen to one of his songs over and over and still not grasp its full meaning.
I know this may be a big stretch to some who don’t care for The Doors music, but there is no denying that Jim Morrison is one of the all time greatest song writers and muscians in pop history, so if that is the case, how much greater are the riches provided for us in scripture? This may be totally off in left field to compare Jim Morrison’s works to a body of 66 books of God’s glory, but that is how my mind is able to wrap around the unimaginable hugeness that is the Bible.
Scholars for centuries have examined every letter, every translation, every Greek, Hebrew, and Latin meaning and yet, there is still more to be discovered. It is 66 books together that were written so that a child could understand and comprehend and a Biblical scholar could spend a life getting to know and still not fully grasp its greatness. To gain a better understanding, you have to dig in deeper.
Anyone can listen to Peace Frog but do you understand it from a casual listen? Go listen to the song or read the lyrics. What do you think it means? You can come up with a guess but there is far more to the song than just one listen can gather, not to mention the actual guitar work or all the history that goes into a piece of work like this. Without explanation or some research, grasping its full meaning may be difficult (especially while you are driving around in your car in 2009, a long time after 1970).
Like scripture and poems that tell a story, you can casually read through them and get a brief understanding. Some of the parables Jesus told were not the easiest to comprehend without some research into the culture of the time or history that surrounded the time. If it was all so easy and simple to understand I doubt people woud disect each chapter word for word centuries after it was written.
Peace Frog was originally called Abortion Stories, changed by guitarist Robby Krieger, and the lyrics came from poems Morrison wrote (he wrote several books of poetry along with his music). One of the more well known lines of the song comes from his childhood.
Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding
Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind
This seems to be tied to a bad car crash Morrison witnessed when he was 4 years old while on vacation with his parents. (Jim claims that the souls of those people [killed in the car crash] combined with him at that point on some level.) Morrison accounted it this way in An American Prayer, a work of poetry and music released years after his death in 1971:
Me and my mother and father and a grandmother and a grandfather were driving through the desert, at dawn, and a truck load of Indian workers had either hit another car, or just I don’t know what happened but there were Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death.”
“So the car pulls up and stops. That was the first time I tasted fear. I musta’ been about four €” like a child is like a flower, his head is floating in the breeze, man.
Some of the song could be related to the race riots of the late 1960’s when The Doors were at their height or possibly the demonstrations of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, both of which happened around the same time as the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968, and Robert F. Kennedy on June 5/6 (shot on the 5th and died on the 6th).
There’s blood on the streets, it’s up to my knee
Blood on the streets in the town of Chicago
“Blood in the streets of New Haven” looks like it came from when Morrison was arrested after taunting Police during a concert in 1967. When he was arrested a riot ensued in the arena and poured out into the streets of New Haven.
This is just one song by Morrison. He was said to be an intelligent and capable student drawn to the study of literature, poetry, religion, philosophy and psychology and of course went on to have a successful career as an American singer, songwriter, poet, writer and film maker after graduating from UCLA. But, even when Morrison was alive and people could actually ask him what a song meant you couldn’t figure out how his mind worked, only he could (and that might be a stretch).
That was a mere mortal man who died at age 27. As great as he was, how much greater can a collection of 66 books of law, history, poetry, and prophecy be than that? I know, kind of a strange analogy but how can you get your mind around something so O-mazing and huge as the Word of God. Relate it to something comprehendible in our own time and space.
In the days of the old testament and even when Jesus taught his disciples he often spoke about things beyond their comprehension and understanding and to help them understand he related the stories to things, places, and people they all knew so they could start to grasp the meaning. How do you describe something like the beauty of the Garden of Eden or Heaven or a “new heaven and new earth”? In this life we can’t fully grasp His greatness but we have been given a lot of material to study in the mean time.
And let him who hears say
Who ever is thirsty, let him come
and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life
Yes, I am coming soon.