The Crystal Ship

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"The Crystal Ship"
Single by The Doors
from the album The Doors
A-side"Light My Fire"
ReleasedApril 1967
RecordedAugust 1966
GenrePsychedelic rock
Songwriter(s)Jim Morrison
Producer(s)Paul A. Rothchild
The Doors singles chronology
"Break On Through (To the Other Side)"
"Light My Fire" / "The Crystal Ship"
"People Are Strange"

"The Crystal Ship" is a song by American rock band the Doors, from their 1967 debut album The Doors, and the B-side of the number-one hit single "Light My Fire". It was composed as a love song to Jim Morrison's first serious girlfriend, Mary Werbelow, shortly after their relationship ended.

The meaning of the song has been debated; the title borrows from the 12th-century Irish Lebor na hUidre (Book of the Dun Cow) manuscript. The lyrics in the opening verse resembles a conventional love song, while the later verses are vague in intention and contain more challenging imagery. A music video was later compiled from footage of the band performing on American Bandstand, coupled with film of Morrison and Pamela Courson at Kern River, near Bakersfield.


Morrison's lyrics are often deliberately vague, and this, coupled with the song's dreamlike atmosphere,[1] has led to a great deal of speculation by critics and fans as to the meaning of "The Crystal Ship". According to Greil Marcus, the opening lines "Before you slip into unconsciousness, I'd like to have another kiss" could be about "sleep, it could be an overdose, inflicted by the singer or the person he's addressing; it could be murder suicide, or a suicide pact."[2] Critic James Perone noted that the song's title is open to wide interpretations, and that the crystal ship "could just as easily represent sleep as a drug trip", he conceded that "in 1967 the latter would probably have been the more common interpretation".[1]

A January 1990 letter to the Los Angeles Times claimed that the song was about crystal methamphetamine - the ship represents a hypodermic needle, and the kiss the act of drug injection. John Densmore responded by saying that although Morrison was aware that "crystal" is slang for methedrine, he "wrote 'The Crystal Ship' for Mary Werbelow, a girlfriend with whom he was breaking up: it was therefore intended as a goodbye love song."[3]

According to local Santa Barbara lore, Jim Morrison wrote the song after taking LSD on an Isla Vista beach one night as he stared at the blinking lights of an offshore oil rig named Platform Holly. [4]





  1. ^ a b Perone (2012), 113
  2. ^ Marcus (2012), 67
  3. ^ Densmore, John."The Last Doors Letter". Los Angeles Times, January 28, 1990. Retrieved November 26, 2016
  4. ^ "" (PDF). Retrieved May 21, 2017.


  • Marcus, Greil. The Doors. Faber & Faber, 2012. ISBN 978-0-5712-7996-8
  • Perone, James. The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations. Praeger, 2012. ISBN 978-0-3133-7906--2

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