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The Doors: The Crystal Ship Meaning

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Before you slip into unconsciousness
I'd like to have another kiss
Another flashing chance at bliss
Another kiss, another kiss

The days are bright and filled with pain
Enclose me in your gentle rain
The time you ran was too insane
We'll...

  1.  

    heronsysnj
    click a star to vote
    Jul 29th, 2017 7:06pm report


    This is a gorgeous song from The Doors' debut album. Jim Morrison was much more than a brilliant poet and complete nut job; he was also a gifted musician and songwriter. The power of this song lies in both its melody and its lyrics.

    This is a love song, a farewell to his girlfriend, Mary Werbelow. Jim is saying goodbye not only to Mary but to the simple life they used to enjoy together. He knows that the road ahead is going to be very different for him, and Mary has no role on that journey.

    Jim was no fool. He knew how the game was played. He was the singer for a rock and roll band, and knew that he had another role just as important: the sex symbol. That meant no room for the type of romantic relationship he used to enjoy. And that's why he's saying goodbye to his girlfriend.

    In a way it's very cynical, almost Godfather-like: nothing personal, just business. We must remember, however, that this is back in '67, long before the notion of women's equality was even considered. I suppose that, for the time, this was a rather noble gesture. Most rock stars would stay with their girlfriends and treat them like dirt, cheating on them whenever and wherever possible. Jim is certainly no different in the libido area, but at least he says that Mary deserves better treatment, so he's going to let her go.

    This now presents him with a conundrum. He can't exactly say, "We're breaking up so I can get laid as much as I want and not feel guilty". It has to be more romantic than that. So he wrote a beautiful song for her.

    "Before you slip into unconsciousness
    I'd like to have another kiss
    Another flashing chance at bliss
    Another kiss, another kiss"

    Soon the drugs and the lights and the fame and fortune will take over his mind. Mary will slip into his unconscious mind and he will forget about her. Before that happens, he asks for one last moment of bliss from her, a last kiss.

    "The days are bright and filled with pain
    Enclose me in your gentle rain
    The time you ran was too insane
    We'll meet again, we'll meet again
    Oh tell me where your freedom lies
    The streets are fields that never die
    Deliver me from reasons why
    You'd rather cry, I'd rather fly"

    These two verses, which should be taken together, seem disjointed, as though the lines don't fit together. They don't, and that's the point. They're all relevant to the topic, but the tone and emotions are all over the place. Assuming this was intentional, and not the result of ingested chemicals, it is inspired. Jim, like anyone trying to break up, is confused and has conflicting emotions caused by uncertainty and doubt. Because he's adopting this false front, he's not quite sure what to say. He may even be running through a mental list of what he should or shouldn't say.

    "The days are bright and filled with pain
    Enclose me in your gentle rain"

    At the beginning, Jim is afraid and wants her to comfort him The imagery is quite lovely and counter intuitive. Sunshine is pain and rain is comfort.

    "The time you ran was too insane"

    Now comes a conflicting emotion. He's trying to justify his decision by remembering the problems they had. At one point she left him and it was an awful experience. So maybe it's good that they're breaking up.

    "We'll meet again, We'll meet again"

    Finally, Jim tries to have it both ways. They're breaking up now, but maybe they'll get back together at some point in the future.

    "Oh tell me where your freedom lies"

    Now he turns it over to her: Tell me what you want.

    "The streets are fields that never die"

    Next comes the cliche: there are plenty of fish in the sea. Being a former film student, he gives it a nice noir twist.
    ​​
    "Deliver me from reasons why"

    Jim tries transference: this isn't my fault, it's your fault. Why are you torturing me by making me justify my decision?

    "You'd rather cry, I'd rather fly"
    ​​
    Don't look on it as an end. Look on it as a beginning. The cliches are starting to come fast and furious.

    "The crystal ship is being filled
    A thousand girls, a thousand thrills
    A million ways to spend your time"
    ​​
    The Crystal Ship is rock and roll stardom. They're loading up supplies and waiting for Jim to get on so they can set sail. (Factoid: The second line's original ending was "A thousand pills". The record company forced Jim to change it to "thrills").

    A word on the image of the Crystal Ship: this may be one of the most obscure literary references ever put into a rock song. The source is The Book of the Dun Cow, a 9th Centruy collection of Celtic legends.

    "The Irish hero Connla is wooed by a goddess who whisked him away to the 'earthly paradise beyond the sea' in a magical ship that belonged to the sea god Manannan - a ship that was made of crystal, knew its pilot's mind and was capable of flying over sea of land." (Chuck Crisafulli, waiting-for-the-sun.net)

    I don't know about anyone else, but I'm impressed.

    "When we get back, I'll drop a line"

    "I'll call you. I promise". What a pig.

    That about does it. Above the beautiful language and poetry, the song is amazing for its depth and self-awareness. Jim does not paint a sympathetic picture of himself, and deserves kudos for that.

    One final thought nags at me: am I giving Jimbo too much credit? I'm looking at this song, written at 1967, from a 2016 perspective. I have this fear that what I consider to be irony was serious back then. Did Jim mean what he was writing, and was it viewed as acceptable behavior? What a pity that would be. Still a great song, though.



  2.  

    Jay Plastow
    click a star to vote
    Sep 24th, 2015 9:41am report


    The girl is drifting into a hypnotic opiate sleep. The Crystal ship brings the "crystal" AKA "Meth".
    The speed wakes her up, but after being awake on it one sees rain, but only in their head



  3.  

    theliisuliisa
    click a star to vote
    Nov 11th, 2012 11:59am report


    I am leaving. I haven't seen you for some time, but now I am longing for a kiss. The last time when I left was too insane, we couldn't be together. The timing for us is still not right. Now I am leaving and even more far. The crystal ship is being filled, there are a thousand worlds and thousand thrills out there. I am going to go experience them. It's time to fly instead of cry. Hopefully when I get back, the world is lined up perfectly for you and me. When I get back, I will find you again...




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