|An Unholy Alliance
Jim Morrison and Nico
Danny Fields once told a journalist that "Jim and Nico got into this fight, with Jim pulling her hair all over the place - it was just this weird love-making, between the two most adorable monsters, each one trying to be more poetic th
an the other."
Nico stated in 1985, "I like my relations to be physical and of the psyche. We hit each other because we were drunk and we enjoyed the sensation. We made love in a gentle way, do you know? I thought of Jim Morrison as my brother, so we would grow together. We still do, because he is my soul brother. We exchanged blood. I carry his blood inside me. When he died, and I told people that he wasn't dead, this was my meaning. We had spiritual journeys together."
Nico wanted Jim Morrison to join her brotherhood, and he obliged. They cut their thumbs in the desert with a knife and let their blood mingle. Such a ritual form of devotion appealed to their shared sense of theatre, but Nico wanted even more. She wanted Jim Morrison to share not just her blood, but her son. One night Nico decided they should be married, to test if he was stringing her along, or serious. As the drunken boor in front of her had offered little more than literary discourse and downright lust, she suggested to him that he might like to propose marriage to her. He laughed himself off his chair. She hit him, they fought, and when they got tired, they made up. That was the routine nature of their alliance, day after day - affection, argument, rancour, resolution. "I was in love with him, and that is how love goes, isn't it? He was the first man I was in love with, because he was affectionate to my looks and my mind. But we took too much drink and too many drugs to make it, that was our difficulty. Everything was open to us, there were no rules. We had a too big appetite."
During their time together in California, between the months of July and August 1967, they often drove out of Los Angeles and into the desert. Morrison found the cactus buttons called peyote, which they picked off and ate. "Peyote was a spiritual drug. We were in the middle of the desert and everything was natural, you know, in the open air, nature all around, not a hotel room or a bar. And the cactus was natural. You did not buy it from somebody on a street corner. We had visions in the desert. It is like William Blake; he would see visions like Blake did, angels in trees, he would see these, and so would I. And Jim showed me that this is what a poet does. A poet sees visions and records them. He said that there were more poets in Comanches than there were in bookstores. The Comanches took the cactus, too. We were like the Indians who lived in this way for thousands of years, before the Christians and as long as the Jews."
Jim Morrison recorded his psycho - chemical visions and dreams. His notes often comprised the raw material for his poems and songs. He considered that this was how the opium - addicted Coleridge worked, a model good enough for him; one Coleridge poem he read to Nico was entitled Kubla Khan, or a Vision in a Dream. Nico just once offered an example of the peyote visions she endured with Morrison: "The light of the dawn was a very deep green and I believed I was upside down and the sky was the desert which had become a garden and then the ocean. I do not swim and I was frightened when it was water and more resolved when it was land. I felt embraced by the sky-garden." Soon after, she started to write a song lyric, possibly her first, titled Lawns of Dawn, which contains lines such as these:
He blesses you, he blesses me
The day the night caresses,
Caresses you, caresses me,
Can you follow me?
I cannot understand the way I feel
Until I rest on lawns of dawns -
can you follow me?
The cross-eyed, internal rhymes came directly from Jim Morrison. He showed her how he worked on his poems, and in doing so, offered her a model. She was reluctant to write anything down, however, it was a major step, to talk about words and then to write them (especially in a foreign language, Nico liked to remind her fans). "Jim gave me permission to be a writer," Nico claimed. "He said to me one day, 'I give you permission to write your poems and compose your songs!' My soul brother believed I could do it. I had his authority. And why not? His song was the most popular song in America." (Light My Fire had been released in June, and by the end of July, it attained number one status.)* Nico spent her nights in the desert with the nation's number one pop star who told her to write songs and read to her Coleridge, Shelley and Blake. No wonder she stayed faithful to her boozy, conceited soul brother, when he was the first fuckable man to acknowledge her mind as well as her face.
Nico told him that she did not know how to compose. She could not follow the mechanics of writing. He told her to write down her dreams, literally, write down the images she remembered. This would provide her raw material. He admitted to her that he started by imitating other writers, Celine and Blake, for instance, but then he realized that they were writing down their dreams, and so it would be more creative for him to do the same. The songs would be the recounting of her visions, and that was enough.
Their affair, a torrid mixture of drinks, drugs, fights and poetry, lasted little more than a month before this Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden without any god's bidding, and drifted down their separate roads to hell. They were tired of each other, little more than that; they were exhausted by each others titanic demands. Aside from the authority she had received to compose, and the slanted introduction to English poetry, she kept two prevailing souvenirs of their liaison: his blood in hers, and red hair. "He had a fetish for red-haired shanties, you know, Irish shanties. I was so much in love with him that I made my hair red after awhile. I wanted to please his taste. It was silly, wasn't it? Like a teenager." She kept her hair tinted red until he died.
*presumably, the author was unaware that Robbie Krieger wrote the majority of the lyrics to Light My Fire.
(From Nico - The Life and Times of an Icon by Richard Witts)
Photo: Nico with Lou Reed
There are many facets to every personal relationship, and Jim and Nico's relationship was no different. Reading about the apparent physically violent aspect of their relationship can seem a little unsettling in today's world. Any pattern of abusive behavior, whether physical or psychological is considered a form of domestic violence today. Refer to this article for more information on legal help for victims of domestic violence.
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