The Lost Paris Tapes

The Lost Paris Tapes

"The Lost Paris Tapes" is the title given to a recorded collection of unedited poems and songs by rock musician and poet Jim Morrison of The Doors. Although Morrison intentionally made the recordings, they are considered bootlegs because they were never officially released to the public in their unedited form by Morrison or his heirs.

The title of the collection is something of a misnomer because most of the recordings were made in Los Angeles in March 1969, long before Morrison traveled to Paris (where he died under mysterious circumstances in 1971). However, he appears to have taken the Los Angeles recordings with him to Paris, [Stephen Davis, "The Last Days of Jim Morrison: A Rare Look into the Rock God's Journals," Rolling Stone, 16 June 2004,] where they were found among his belongings after his death.

History of "The Lost Paris Tapes"

The liner notes to this Canadian-produced disc includes the following background information:

"It sounds like a fairy tale, but it isn't. It's the story of a session band named Jomo and the Smoothies, which only existed for about an hour. Once upon a time, in mid-June of 1971, Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors, returned to Paris from a short holiday in Corsica. In a Parisian bar, he met two unknown street musicians. He decided on the spot to invite them for a spontaneous recording session in a nearby studio, where he had been on that day to listen to a tape of his poetry session recorded at Elektra Sound Studios on La Cienega Boulevard in West Hollywood in March 1969.

When Jim and the two musicians arrived at the studio, it was already late afternoon, and everybody was rather drunk. Morrison told the engineer it was his own band, Jomo and the Smoothies, paid for an hour of recording, and the tape started rolling - for just 14 minutes. After that everybody decided to listen to the tape - and no other tape was put on again. The three musicians failed to make decent recordings of songs they knew, although one of the musicians suggested "Little Miss Five Feet Five", and "Three Little Fishes", and "I Wanna Dance With My Indigo Sugar." Even when it came to his own material, Morrison couldn't remember correctly the lyrics of "Orange County Suite", a song he wrote himself. He was too drunk. So the engineer cut the tape at the session's end and gave it to Jim, who scribbled Jomo and the Smoothies onto the box and put it into his plastic bag along with the poetry tape.

Then they left the studio and split. Jim wanted to go for some more drinks but didn't want to carry the tapes around with him. After all, the poetry tape was the master copy from Elektra Records' archives, and together with the master of the recording he and the street musicians had just made as Jomo and the Smoothies the risk of losing the plastic bag somewhere in a bar during the night would have been too big. So he decided to pay a visit to Jacques, a Parisian friend of his, who used to live just round the corner. They had a few drinks together, and when Jim left he shouted while going down the elevator, "I'll pick the bag up later, just keep it for me!"

Jim Morrison never returned to the guy's apartment in order to pick the tapes up, and Jacques never saw him again. Three weeks later Jim Morrison was dead.

Jacques remembered the bag 22 years later, when he attened a concert of a Doors coverband named the Soft Parade at the Parisian underground theatre "La Cigale" during the celebrations for Jim Morrison's 50th birthday. There were not only the two reel-to-reel tapes in the bag, but also other private things, which belonged to Jim Morrison. . . ."

Los Angeles session (March 1969)

The Los Angeles session features a serious but relaxed Morrison taping spoken-word versions of his own written poetry. Morrison can be heard repeating certain sections of poems for technical or aesthetic reasons, and he can be heard giving occasional production cues, such as when certain sound effects should be added at a later date. Morrison's efforts to obtain clear recordings and his additional verbal directions suggest that he planned to use the recordings in a much more ambitious project that would merge his smoothly edited voiceovers with background sounds and music. [Jim Morrison, The Lost Paris Tapes, bootleg audio recording.] Some of these recordings were later mixed with new music tracks recorded by surviving Doors members Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger, and John Densmore, and released as the official Doors album "An American Prayer".The March 1969 recording of "Orange County Suite" with Jim on piano was later used and mixed with new music recorded by the surviving Doors members Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger, and John Densmore, and released as part of their 1997 4 CD "Box Set." This new Doors version also appears on the 1999 box set compilation CD "Essential Rarities."

Paris session (16 June 1971)

The only recording on the collection that Morrison actually made in Paris is a segment featuring an apparently drunken Morrison playing around in a studio with two equally inebriated American street musicians. Morrison had befriended the street musicians only a short time earlier, when he found them performing Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young tunes on a Paris sidewalk.

Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek has referred to this recording as "drunken gibberish," observing, "If you haven't heard them, you're missing nothing." ["Ask Ray Manzarek" Transcript, "Talk", BBC, 10 April 2002,]

However, once Morrison gave up trying to perform with the two street musicians, he broke into a solo performance of "Orange County Suite." A writer for "Rolling Stone" magazine later called this piece "an astounding version of . . . [an] unfinished, unrealized paean to his old lady (Pamela Courson) that had been rejected from at least two Doors albums. . . . It was a drunken, and mostly ad-libbed, recording. Yet, listening carefully . . . , one hears the authentic last of Jim Morrison, two weeks before he died, as he roars spontaneous verses and imagery about his hard-hearted woman, his anguish and his obsessions, easily deploying a poetic champion's compositional facility for the natural cadence and spontaneous rhyme"." [Stephen Davis, "The Last Days of Jim Morrison: A Rare Look into the Rock God's Journals," Rolling Stone, 16 June 2004,]

Morrison offhandedly labeled the resulting reel-to-reel tape of the session "Jomo and the Smoothies" (Jomo being a pseudonym for Morrison).

Track listing

Track listing for the Los Angeles poetry session:
* "Far Arden"
* "Radio Dark Night" (Take 1)
* "Radio Dark Night" (Take 2)
* "A Vast Radiant Beach" (Awake)
* "Moonshine Night"
* "Frozen Moment By A Lake"
* "Bird Of Prey" (song)
* "Dawns HWY"
* "Under Waterfall" (song)
* "The Hitchhiker"
* "Winter Photography" (song)
* "Whiskey, Mystics And Men" (song)
* "Orange Country Suite" (song)
* "All Hail The American Night"
* "Far Arden Poem"
* "Texas Radio & The Big Beat #1 (Letter From Shirley)"
* "Tales From The American Night"
* * "The American Night"
* "The Holy Shay"
* "Hitler"
* "Latino Chrome"
* "To Come Of Age/Black Polished Chrome"
* "Search On, Man"
* "Indian, Indian" (Sirens And Horns Honking)
* "Woman In The Window" (song)
* "A Vision Of America":
** "From The Book Of Days"
** "A Vision Of America"
** "Motel, Money, Murder, Madness"
* "Earth, Air, Fire, Water"
* "Discovery (Angels And Sailors)"
* "Now Listen To This" ("Texas Radio & The Big Beat" #2)
* "Stoned, Immaculate"
* "White Blind Light (Thank You, O Lord)"

Track listing for the Paris session:

* "Guitar Tuning And Chats"
* "Orange County Suite"

Total elapsed time: 51m:14s


=External links=
* [ The Lost Paris Tapes bootleg - full streaming]
* [ Stephen Davis, "The Last Days of Jim Morrison: A Rare Look into the Rock God's Journals," Rolling Stone, 16 June 2004.]
* [ A Brief Analysis of the Lost Paris Tapes]
* [ Jim Morrison's Quiet Days in Paris]

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