The Crystal Ship

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  • This song came from poetry written in Jim Morrison's notebooks. He wrote it after splitting up with his girlfriend, Mary Werbelow, in the summer of 1965. While the "Crystal Ship" is sometimes thought to represent drugs, Ken Rafferty from The Annotated Lyrics makes this case:

    This song has nothing to do with drugs and everything about Jim Morrison's heavy relationship with his first love, Mary Werbelow. As a poet, he did nothing more than use transparent images for his relation to the past. He (Jim Morrison) hasn't let go of her as evidenced in the first line, "Before you slip into unconsciousness, I'd like to have another kiss."

    That means the protagonist had already left her in the physical realm, but has not left her subconsciously. The thought of her still burdens him and he just wants another kiss to somehow make it feel better.

    "Another flashing chance at bliss, another kiss." Again, he cannot seem to let go of their love, their relationship, and how much she meant to him.

    "The days are bright and filled with pain." He's moved on and is now doing very well as a singer/songwriter in a rock band in L.A., but he still has feelings for her and this song is his testament to her that he still has feelings for her.

    "The time you ran was too insane." Jim was one to mock even his girlfriends- he would tease others, but mostly, he was testing them. This line very well could be a reference to a time he felt bad about verbally teasing her- knowing that it upset her.

    "The streets are fields that never die, deliver me from reasons why, you'd rather cry, I'd rather fly." A simple line that confirms the end of the relationship and that the protagonist is willing to move on. The streets are fields are his memories, and because they are vague memories now, they also present a reason why he can forget.

    And that last stanza confirms his growing popularity as a lead singer for a rock band with an ever-growing popularity. The beauty of it though is how he is saying to her that no matter how big he becomes, he will still think of her, and even call her, when he gets the chance.
  • Jim Morrison was a voracious reader, and got the title from a Celtic legend in The Book Of The Dun Cow, a collection of stories compiled by about 1100 Irish monks around the 9th century.
  • This was released as the B-side of "Light My Fire."
  • The last words in this are "When we get back, I'll drop a line," which was widely interpreted as a reference to dropping acid.
  • Crystal Ship is the name of the Doors cover band in The Dead Milkmen song "Bitchin' Camaro."
  • Duran Duran covered this on their 1995 album Thank You.
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Comments: 60

  • Roberto P from Cancun, MexicoAt the beginning of the lyrics there seems to be a reference to the last lines of Verdi's opera Otello (libretto by Arrigo Boito). Jim Morrison writes: "Before you slip into unconsciousness I'd like to have another kiss (...) another kiss, another kiss". In the first act of the opera, Otello lovingly sings to Desdemona asking her for "a kiss... another kiss" ("un bacio... ancora un bacio!"). In the final scene of the opera, Otello --after stabbing Desdemona to death, realizing that he killed her unjustly, and stabbing himself-- reprises a part or that song before dying: "Before I killed thee, wife, I kissed thee thus. Now dying... in the shadow where I lie... a kiss... another kiss... ah!... another kiss..." ("Pria d’ucciderti... sposa... ti bacai. Or morendo... nell’ombra in cui mi giacio... un bacio... un bacio ancora... ah!... un’altro bacio..."). Then the opera ends.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 22, 1967, the Doors performed "The Crystal Ship" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV network Saturday-afternoon program 'American Bandstand'...
    The song was track three of side one on the quartet's debut album, 'The Doors', the album peaked at #2 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    And on the same 'Bandstand' show they also performed "Light My Fire", at the time it was at #3 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, the following week it would peak at #1 {for 3 weeks}...
    A personal note: Always had a great affection for "Light My Fire", for it was the #1 record on the day I was discharged from the U.S. Navy {July 31st, 1967}.
  • Jim from Ocean Grove, NjThis song was recorded in 1966 and lyrics came from a poem Jim wrote to/about his ex-girlfriend Mary (they had been together for 3 years, broke up in 1965). It was on the Doors first album, along with The End, which also was to/about Mary. When the first album was released, the record company wanted a single and a shortened version of Light My Fire was chosen. That song was written by guitarist Robby Krieger. The B side of the single was The Crystal Ship. The two songs are like day and night and illustrate the path the Doors were taking: some high energy party type songs AND some heavy dark tunes.
    Jim is basically saying that since their relationship ended, Mary is slipping into unconsciousness (with alcohol and/or drugs), crying, and filling her days with pain. Instead of crying, he's flying (pot, acid) so he too is escaping the world of suffering. He concludes with the crystal ship (like a spaceship to the stars) being filled with girls and thrills. Jim was very hungry for fame and believed that now The Doors would take off. Jim always needed women for sex and for muse. He is saying I'll call/write you, but you must realize that I will have other girls. The poem may have dated back to late 1965 or early 1966, but by the time the album came out in January, 1967 Jim was with Pam.
  • Amanda from NjI was reading conspiracies on his death. I read on hugequestions.com he was out for an interview eating dinner in France (if I'm right, one of the last few days of his life) and they were talking about how he did a lot of drugs, heroin, and he picked up his martini glass saying "this is the crystal ship"
    I don't find hugequestions very credible but apparently it came from an interview so it might be true. Just another way to look at crystal ship. A transportation to another land with the help of alcohol from a crystal glass. http://hugequestions.com/Eric/TFC/FromOthers/Death-of-Jim-Morrison.html
  • Ken from Levittown, NyOne element of the song that is never given enough praise is Ray's piano interlude. Gives the song great depth. But lets not be naive: it's about tripping on crystal methedrine.
  • Elmer H from Westville, OkI think "The Crystal Ship" was on the flip-side of the "Light My Fire" 45 single from '67. I almost forgot about it, until I hear it again on AFVN radio when I was in the Army in Vietnam in 1969. The DJs at AFVN played it a lot & I got to like it more too. The song's lyrics and melody seemed to wash away all the stress, fear, and sadness I encountered in 'Nam nearly every day. Anyway, it is such a mystical and emotional song. To this day, I am still a fierce Doors fan. I think it is because The Doors & their music were way ahead of their time. I cannot believe that several decades have passed since I first heard this song!
  • Karlin from Nelson, BcOriginally it had a different title - I saw this in a movie so I know it is true - the idea came after he, Jim, ate an entire frikkin' beer mug while drinking at the campus pub, and a few days later, mxed in with all the blood were sparkling bits in his BM - "The Crystal s--t". Also, FACT - that is when his painkiller addiction started. Uh huh!!
  • Michael from Santa Cruz, CaThis song and "The End" are the best.I let my best friend borrow my copy of this album shortly after reading the comic "Watchmen".The comic & song inspired him to create a 3d rendering of Dr. Manattan's ship on Mars.Simply Amazing.The japanese animation studio Gainax created a promotional film for the soon-aborted "Galactic Airport r20" using this song.Youtube it,I think you'll like what could have been.
  • Dogg from Tulsa, OkThis is a great song. Lots of class.

    I get tired of hearing that Morrison was a druggy and alchy all the time. The movie portrayed that and tho he did indulge greatly, it can't be to the extent portrayed or he wouldn't have been able to write the huge amount of poetry and lyrics he did over his short life. He was prolific and talented. I would have like to see how he would have polished up and perfected his already excellent poetry, had he lived and matured.
  • Justin from Los Angeles, CaHere is a picture of "the crystal ship" that Jim Morrison saw one night in 1967, while tripping on acid at Sands beach in Isla Vista, CA.

    http://gorin-images.com/blog/index.php?showimage=57

    It really does look like a crystal ship.
  • Dom from Ny, NyI think the song has the same meaning the crystal ship has for me. I had a dream one night where I was in the woods and came upon a magnificent crystal ship, being loaded and all kinds of activity on it. I felt complete bliss
  • Nady from Adelaide, Australiahaha. it amuses me how many people think they know all these facts about Jim because they saw it in a ridiculous movie. haa seriously, get your facts straight before you go round looking like a massive idiot trying to impress people with your 'facts'. hahaha ahhh endless entertainment.
  • Brian from Chattanooga, TnIt almost reads like a love letter to the many of groupies he was with in diffrent cities but seeing that is on their debut I seriously doubt that.Its probably about one girl in particular hes saying goodbye to for going on tour with the Doors at the start of their careers.
  • Jesse from San Antoino, TxJust want to put this at random. well first my favorite song all time. Anyway Oliver stone of course made a really bad movie about the doors life. Even most of the things are true, Oliver just really went over the top. Even ask Ray "Oliver stone in leather pants"
  • Hugh from Oxford, United KingdomActually Jim could be very volatile. He once set his bedroom on fire with Pam locked in the closet after a night of binge drinking. Jim was could also be very profane and took pleasure in making others uncomfortable.
  • Nick from Seattle, Albaniajim didnt know pam when he wrote this, and pam was not using heroine in 1965! its not about that! its a psychedelic break up song! jeez.
  • Kevin from Ocean Grove, Afghanistanthis song is not dark at all, its a truly amazing song it makes me feel at peace with myself i dont think thats dark at all
  • Nady from Adelaide, Australia"...Another flashing chance at bliss
    Another kiss, another kiss..." thats beautiful i love that line.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyI'm not a Jim Morrison/Doors fan at all. Never was. But I like this song a lot. The organ is used to weave the imagery of this song and Jim's vocals--The only time he was as good was on "Riders on the Storm"--into something as elusive yet as concrete as an eel one might see in a dream. Nice work!
  • Roman from Barrie, On'crystal ships' is a term used in reference to models of ships found in a bottle. some are put in the bottle in a mechanical process - the better ones are built in the bottle by hand by very patient and skilled artisans. if Jim's father was in the Navy, chances are he may have had a bottle or two 'containing a ship' around the house which may have caught Jim's attention and thus the song and the title
  • Larry from Los Angeles, Ca
    The Crystal Ship -- my personal interpretation -- is the beautiful ideas we spin in our mind, our own ideas of bliss and transcendence. More specifically, beautiful ideas which we want to be true, which we want to EXIST for others, but that sadly exist in our own mind only. The more of these ideas we spin (as spun glass, or crystal) the more alienated -- in our own head trip -- that we become. As if the framework of these naive and false ideas is a fragile (crystal) ship sailing away with, with the dreamer as the lone occupant.

    Of course, no one except those now sailing off on their own crystal ships will expect that JDM created an elaborate system of codewords, i.e. "crystal=drug;port=haven=receptor" and intended the song to be interpreted. If so, one could construct a computer model to build better art than this, a fallacy. --> Hence, none of us can enter JDM's head, and the song he gifted to us to create our own meanings, and the view of each receiving then is absolutely valid, in each's own Crystal Ship. This is mine. :)

    And . . . another statement, but this one more objective than subjective: Those who say reflexively (without seeking interpretation) that The Crystal Ship is about drugs are victims of propaganda. You have been conditioned to equate Morrison with, first and foremost, drugs; and also to equate drugs with excessive creativity. The truth is that JDM was an exceptionally creative person, and drugs were one of many tools he used to explore his creativity.

    But if I use my flashlight as a tool to illuminate Beauty; then write a song about Beauty, the song isn't necessarily about my flashlight, it is about Beauty. And neither is my flashlight itself necessarily beautiful. Or, as budda would say, I use my finger to point you to the Moon, but my finger isn't the Moon.
  • Roy from Granbania, MaThis song is amazing, just like most of The Doors' other songs. The Doors are my second favorite band of all time and they have been since I was in 2nd Grade.
  • Eddy from Miami, Flthis song is so bizzare and wierd, and mellow.. but i like it.. jim puts alot of poetic skill in his songs.. what a poet!!!
  • Shaina from Tampa, CaAll of The Doors songs are very influental and very meaningful i thought that Jim Morrison was a very sensitive normal human being. He just did drugs which doesnt make him a bad person what so ever it was all his choice and i know he loved and lived his life to the fulliest! When people began putting him down and laughing at him even his his fans were abonding him. if i could been Jim's girl i wouldve definatly loved and cared for every second i spent with him. i still adore him and just recently bought the Doors movie. Speaking of which in that movie they made Jim look like a drug addict syco, which was very untrue he had a very sensive mind and he was a quiet generous man but obvisouly know one did their homework on how Val Kilmer reacted his life. I love every single thing about Jim and adore him :] i wish he wouldnt have died at such an early age he was beautiful young and EXTREMLEY talented. all of his songs make me want to relive life with THE DOORS!
  • Stooper from Flowing Springs, PaI remember that long ago summer flipping my Light My Fire 45 over and hearing this song for the first time It floored me It may be my favorite Doors song and one of my favorite songs ever
  • Steve from Palos Verdes, Cathis song is actually about Jim Morrison sitting on Sands Beach near the UCSB campus in california, and he looked out to a lighted oil rig and thought of it as a crystal ship...
  • Sasha from Winston, MsSurprisingly, this is my favourite song by the Doors, simply because the melody is so heady that it turns a 2-minute song into what seems to be a 5 minute long song
  • Eric from Old Bridge, NjEveryone says this song is about drugs, wich i do agree, but it gets me thinking. They had songs like this and land ho and ship of fools, to me i feel like he was almost, in a way, reaching out to his dad or something like that.
  • Andrew from Adelaide, AustraliaCrystal ship has many diverse meanings. The first verse is simply Morrison saying goodbye to all the freedom he had when he wasn't famous. The second verse sounds a lot like either A) a goodbye or B). A dream. The third and fourth verse's are simply a reference to his girlfriend's (Pamerla Courson's) rather scary heroin addiction
  • Malicious Matt from Squatney"The Crystal Ship represents drugs"... I dont know why that statement bothers me. It could be about any trancendent experience, possibly, but not strictly drug-related. I think people put too much emphasis on the drugs, and instead should view psychedelic drug use as a means to an end, rather an end in itself... As for represinting "child molestation or rape"?????? I dont know how on Earth somebody came to that conclusion, but its probably a reflection of how sick they are...

    For anyone who cares to hear my opinion (and thats all it is ;-), The Crystal Ship is one of my favourite songs. It seems to me to be a perfect fusing of poetry and music. The words have a profound melancholy beauty that is perfectly matched by the music. Actually, there's no point in analysing the music and lyrics seperately, as they are really one entity I think. A great song, and a great recording by The Doors.
  • Yavar from Tehran, IranThe song make me cry and lost in my plain.what a great song!
  • Dubravko from Kakanj, BosniaWhen I hear this song i get completely relaxed and get a feeling of flying
  • Tristan from Philadelphia, PaTruly original, it starts out dark and sullen, and out of the dark comes Ray on the piano, maybe the best keyboard/Piano solo of the doors.? And the end lifts you up, great.
  • Only1out10livestr8 from In Your Uterus..., United StatesHis father was an Andmiral of the U.S. Navy, Drugs are on crystalline basis, ships are lying in any haven, a haven is a port to the land, to the sea, a receptor is a part of the brain, a port to be docked on by any types of chemicals that create effects, if medication, drugs or natural substances of the brain itself, the song can also describe to kiss a loved one for a good night, like a girlfriend or a baby, a child to sleep good, to always say it is drug related because it is The Doors is also correct, but you can also affect any of The Doors songs to another drug, all songs except the ones that were not written by Jim Morrison can be placed in a direct relationship to the effect of another existing drug. Also is it possible that the song is related to that any girl of the thousands mentioned is like another pill of a not classified drug, a womans' existence as a drug, a substance with varying effects to the recepting male person. It can also mean that in the modern world, where for every desease a new drug, a new pill is created, the song is confronting these changes in the society of the world, like also mentioned in the song of this time called 2525, in the year 2525, the.....is in the pill you took today. What is really meant was up to James Douglas Morrison, but more important that the songs of The Doors leave ways open for anyone to see something else, something giving the person, the listener, the fan a certain piece of mind, freedom, the song is literally talking about freedom, to be so free and to break up when wanted, when desired, with the look back on the person or things in life from what one breaks up, being free, living in a free world, not looking at factors where one knows that one is not free to a 100%, possibly to gain freedom in a surrounding not to hurt others, not to run against laws and other peoples opinions, to avoid pain, pain caused by oneself with disregarding the rules one has set for another to avoid pian, breaking up from certain circumstances in a part of life to another new part, a new chapter of life, where the vehicle chosen a ships may be to reach one point to another...The End. THANKS, ANY TYPOS, I APOLOGIZE UPFRONT, NO TIME TO REVIEW, THE SOUL KITCHEN IS WAITING TO BE CLEANED PROPERLY!!!
  • Eric from Maastricht, NetherlandsThank you God and tnak you America, for Jim Morrison!
    Doors music moves me so it makes me cry.
  • Charles from Monterey, CaIT'S CHANNELLED!--
    If ya study Dylan,i.e. how J Baez desribed his songrwriting,Dylan and her joked about how people would later pick apart his songs-- and y study psychology (I've Ph.D.), you may agree that Jim had no conscious idea what his lyrics were saying: it's like fre association. And he had a groove, like Back and Mozart in miniature, moderm 20th Century style.
    He was just letting his unconscuous fly, he was very very good at that...And you see, as w/ Janis and Jimi, the dangers of "letting fly" as much as they did like that. And, what a haunting, beautiful sounding song!
  • Jack from Lowell, Mai always took the "crystal ship" to be a reference to the body, drifting thru life.


    "the crystal ship is being filled, a 1000 girls, a 1000 thrills. a million ways to spend your time."
  • Flick Yoli from San Diego, CaIn the sixties "crystal ship" was west coast slang term for a hypodermic needle. Morrison wasn't an intravenous drug user, but may have written this song about a girlfriend who was.

    A sad and beautiful song that resonates on many levels.


  • Elie from The U.k, Englandman the doors are like my favorit bands and ime thinking of tatooing on my arm the words on jims grave "true to his own spirit" its written in greek on the tombstone anyways this song is one of my favorits and it has great meaning .
  • Jim from Qinhuangdao, ChinaMorrison asked the band which was better, "a thousand girls, a thousand thrills" or "a thousand pills, a thousand thrills". He was already aware then of the possible ramifications of his lyrics.
  • Timmothy from Aberdeen, Wathis is my favorite doors song...i love ray's piano solo.........
  • Frank from Sacramento, CaHere's an interesting idea...Maybe the song is describing something about the way men deal...not only with break ups, but with attachment to Others period.

    "Before I slip into unconsciousness, I'd like to have another kiss. Another flashing chance at Bliss. Another kiss, another kiss." It's him imagining some Other in his dreams, and desiring them.

    "The days are bright and filled with pain, enclose me in your gentle rain." He's desperate, he wants to escape...more then escape. Be lost in her. But he can't. The desperation leads to new memory. "The time you ran was too insane..." when the Other left. Which leads to his bold proclamation.

    "We'll meet again...we'll meet again."

    He says it twice because he's convincing himself, maybe because he's escaping into the dream, drifting into the moment where he can control her image...

    "The Crystal Ship is being filled. A thousand girls, a thousand thrills. A million ways to spend your time."

    He has now controlled her image in his dreams/fantasies, and because of that, he's able to jumble her memory, repress it into the category of mere images...just pictures and faces to fill the Crystal ship...perhaps a reference to masturbation? Or to the mental masturbation of controlling the Other semantically, placing the power of his relationship to so much cargo space in his memory?

    "When we get back, I'll drop a line." Ultimately, he realizes his weakness in this final line, his ineptitude. He is only king within his fantasies, and when they end, he'll have the same nothing he did before. The emotion will still be embodied within him: he cannot escape it.

    But perhaps my content isn't important. The FEELING of the song is what is constant throughout all of our interpretations. It's dark. It's a sense of powerlessness, be it drugs, breakup, losing your own identity. The soul of the song is consistent regardless of content, and so powerful...and the lyrics complicate the emotion in the music and songs. This song is so well written...one of my favorites.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI vote breakup, with heavy amounts of acid used. But the song is mostly about the breakup. I thought Jim Morrison had like, one girlfriend for awhile. Please inform me if I am wrong.
  • Joe from Chicago, IlAerosmith guitarist Joe Perry played this song on his 2005 solo album.
  • Jon from Ames, IaThis song has nothing to do with drugs or girlfriends. If you listen to what John, Ray, and Robbie say, it's about the band's rise to fame. Once you look at it in that perspcetive, the whole thing changes. I view the song as a communication of fame to obscurity. It's "Famous Jim" saying goodbye to "regular guy Jim."
    Look at the first lyrics.
    "Before I slip into unconsiousness, I'd like to have another kiss. Another flashing chance at bliss."
    He is saying, before fame and rockstardom completely chages me into a person that I am not, I'd like to have one more chance at leading a normal life. A chance at the bliss of ignorance and obscurity.
  • Robert from Puyallup, WaIf you listen carefully to the piano interlude, you can hear when Ray Manzarek strikes a sour note. He and the other Doors used to say that they refused to use a "perfect" take of a song if it didn't have the right soul to it. They would much rather use a take which had a mistake or two if it at least had the requisite soulfulness and spirit.
  • Danniel from Oklahoma City, OkCrystal S--t.

    Is the name of the Doors cover band in Bitchin Camaro by the Dead Milkmen.

    " Love me two times baby, Love me twice today.
    Love me two times baby, Cause I got AIDS.

    Hopefully those guys have a good sense of humor and dont take us into court."
  • Nick from Buffalo, NyI think all the doors songs are great,for some reason I think this one gets me the most..? Can't explain it,but I do think that it is there best...
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI agree with most people, i think it's either about a break-up or an acid trip. I think it's a great song, though.
  • Ray from Portland, OrThis song was also recorded by OBSCUREDBYCLOUDS, an original music band that started out as a Pink Floyd Tribute. I think it is the only non-Floyd song they ever recorded and released.
  • Lisa from Detroit, MiI always presumed this song was about Jim's girlfriend addiction to heroin. Heroin can cause you to "slip into uncsciousness" so to speak. The streets are fields that never die refer to the availability of heroin. Also, Jim couldn't understand why she woulld want to take drug that brings you down (why you'd rather cry) unlike pot which makes you feel good (i'd rather fly). The crystal ship referred to a syringe for the injecting heroin.That's my understanding anyway.
  • Bryan from Nova Scotia, CanadaThe remaining Doors dispute all claims that this song is about drugs. While the surface content would point in that direction, I'm sure a writer as deeply metaphorical as Jim would not be that explicit. The band claims that Jim said the song was a metaphor for the band's carreer. "The Crystal ship is being filled. A thousand girls, a thousand thrills. A million ways to spend your time, when we get back I'll drop a line." Transcend the obvious.
  • Don from Santa Barbara, CaI found it extremely interesting, and definately adds to the speculation of "The Crystal Ship" being written in Santa Barbara. My studies have shown that The Doors did two shows in santa barbara in 1967, the year the song was written. One concert on 4/20/67 (coincidental date i'm sure) and another on 8/5/67. And isla vista was definately a party place in the 60's.
  • Michaella from Mpls, MtThis is one of my favorite Doors songs, it's amazing, esp. the awesome keyboard part that Ray plays!!!!!
  • George from Hanover, Germany"Jim Morrison wrote this when he was going through a breakup with a girlfriend."

    Yeah ... it sure reminds me of a very similar situation - breaking up with gf and such - but still: One of The Doors best songs - quite touchy indeed !
  • Mike from Manalapan, NjWhile visiting Isla Vista, CA i was told about the oil rigger that brains was talking about. The lyrics "the crystal ship is being filled" is a good proof of this theory. If anyone has heard this, or wants to see pictures of the oil rigger, e-mail me. And yes, it is true, the ship looks amazing at night when high.
  • Peter from Providence, RiBy far one of the doors most darkest songs
  • Brains from Nowhere, United StatesThis song was written in Isla Vista right by Santa Barbara, CA. The crystal ship is an oil rigger there. The whole place is amazingly beautiful and no doubt was a major influence in the trip. But the ship looks curious when one is in the throws of a good trip, hence crystal ship.
  • Terri Lynn from Heart's Desire, Canadagreat lyrics... more likely about drugs/love if anything else. but who can really be sure
  • Rob from Tampa, FlThe song has been affiliated by some people with being about child molestation or rape, however no one has ever proven that it is.
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