Ship Of Fools

Album: Morrison Hotel (1970)
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Songfacts®:

  • The title may have been inspired by the 1962 novel by Katherine Anne Porter, Ship Of Fools. It was made into a movie in 1965. The phrase has since become common in rock lyrics.
  • This is about an acid trip. Along with 1967s "The Crystal Ship," the second time The Doors used the ship as a metaphor for drugs.
  • The lyrics present a bleak image of the world heading toward oblivion.
  • Images of the Earth from space may have given Morrison the idea to equate it with a ship. The moon landing was in the news throughout 1969.
  • Morrison wrote most of the songs on this album. On their previous album, The Soft Parade, he contributed very little because he was drunk most of the time.
  • Photographer Henry Diltz, who photographed the album sleeve for Morrison Hotel, wrote in California Dreaming: Memories And Visions Of LA 1966-1975 the story behind the LP cover: "The Doors really liked the Crosby, Stills and Nash cover on the couch and so they called us to come and have a meeting at their little office in Hollywood to talk about their new album cover. Ray (Manzarek) mentioned he had driven to downtown LA with his wife and had seen the Morrison Hotel - he was just offering that up as an initial idea and everyone thought it sounded great. So Ray, Jim, Gary and I went round there that afternoon to have a look at it and thought it was perfect. We came back a couple of days later with the whole group and took some pictures."

Comments: 15

  • Phanny from Seattle, WaThis, like so many songs, are essentially metaphors for how stupid the human race is for ignoring the ultimate truth that we need to take care of the planet instead of blindly growing our population and greedily consuming with no care for consequence - to our demise. People don't want to face that truth, hilariously they say "oh he was just on drugs" or "it's a song about drugs." You're slightly on to something though. It is ego death achieved through psychedelics that certainly helps facilitate breaking through the bull$%$# and leads to recognition of that ultimate truth.
  • Joe from Mexico, MexicoThis song is about people of this world. The majority of people don't realize what's in their souls, simply because they are to lazy to study their own mind and discover themselves. People prefer fast and easy things like sex, fast food, money, religion - life is about doing sex, drink a lot, have money, spend money. People stay on this "way of life" their entire life but Morrison says: how long your world will last? Because all these things cause a momentum feeling of good, and people just care about those momentum things, but they didn't realize that their life become momentum too: sex will end, money will end, drunk will end. What did you do with your soul? Nothing, just waste with momentum things! You can see women that are extremely devoted to sex look like a Barbie with artificial look, with much make-up, powder make-up, and that powder is illustrated as SMOG in the part smog get you pretty soon. When you devote to religion you can see white energy. They prefer this instead of their reality true. You can see people who devote to video games and s--tty music like heavy metal, they have the white smog in their souls... the smog blinds their souls of reality perception, and when they die their blindness will send their soul to a ship of fools, and their ship will leave them in another world, another reincarnation, but they will reincarnate in a world LESS then their previous world(earth) because they wasted their time on earth so they deserve a worthy planet. Instead of that Jim Morrison finds his true self and spread the love. When he dies he will ship to a great world much better than this... but I dont know he was a drug addict and died young. Maybe he fell in his own tragedy.
  • Reese from Some Were In Texas, TxThe human race was dyin' out.
    No one left to scream and shout.
    People walking on the moon.

    It seems to me that he's talking about the world is ending and people are going to be walking on the moon Because the earth will be destroyed(2012) Well See.........
  • Nady from Adelaide, AustraliaJim Morrison: Modern day Philosipher
  • Nady from Adelaide, AustraliaMichael,Jacksonville...i like your theory:)
  • Michael from Jacksonvillw, FlActually, Ship of Fools is a literary metaphor for people of faith; they think they are sailing to Heaven, but they are floating nowhere.
  • Mark from Byrdstown, TnWith todays problems of global warming and other problems facing the human race this song is even more on the mark than when it was released.


    (And this song and "The Crystal Ship" are two entirely different songs,geniuses.)
  • Alex from Elizabethtown, Paa crystal ship is a syringe filled with crystaline drugs
  • Tristan from Philadelphia, PaShip of Fools is a great listen, with Ray doing the shivering keyboard, uplifting.
  • Tom from St Catharines, CanadaFor all of you talking about Crystal Ship, this is not the same song! In fact they are four albums apart in time. Ship of Fools is a metaphor for the downfall of the human race. One of their greatest and I know every Doors song ever released.
  • Pat from Boston, MaCrystal ship was written as a metaphor for their career. Not as a drug.
  • Barry from New York, NcThe live version of this tune was stretched out a lot further. The version on the bootleg PALACE OF EXILE (Isle of Wight Festival 1970) is a good example of how they made this into a more improvisational tune.
  • Elina from Athens, GreeceDo you think that the title might have come from Hieronymus Bosch's painting "Ship of fools"?He was one of Jim's favorite painters and I think he even wrote a project about Bosch at school,but I'm not sure about that.Bosch himself is said to have been insipired by Sebastian Brant's satirical poem with the same title.You know that Jim loved poetry.So,what do yo think?
  • Bryan from Nova Scotia, CanadaSimon is right, The Crystal ship was a metaphor for the band's carreer and not a drug reference. And neither is Ship of Fools. It is about the foolishness of America's desire to be on the moon.
  • Simon from Stockholm, SwedenI have read that the lyrics for "The Crystal Ship" actually has nothing to do with drugs. It is told by either John, Ray or Robbie in the inlay for the CD "The Doors Box Set - Part 2". Some people seem to believe that Jim's singing about Amphetamine, though, according to the other Doors, he's not.
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