Feb 4 2010

Horse Latitudes #8

When the still sea conspires an armor
And her sullen and aborted
Currents breed tiny monsters
True sailing is dead
Awkward instant
And the first animal is jettisoned
Legs furiously pumping
Their stiff green gallop
And heads bob up
In mute nostril agony
Carefully refined
And sealed over

This is one of those songs (more of a poem) that I’ve always found haunting. It’s Horse Latitudes, by The Doors. I used to play The Doors over and over – they are definitely one of my top bands of all time.

Wikipedia says this about the Horse Latitudes:
Horse latitudes or Subtropical High are subtropic latitudes between 30 and 35 degrees both north and south. This region, under a ridge of high pressure called the subtropical high, is an area which receives little precipitation and has variable winds mixed with calm.

One theory, of sufficient popularity as to be an example of so-called folk etymology, is that the term horse latitudes originates from when Spanish sailing vessels transported horses to the West Indies. Ships would often become becalmed in mid-ocean in this latitude, thus severely prolonging the voyage; the resulting water shortages would make it necessary for crews to throw their horses overboard.

“Horse Latitudes” is the fifth song from The Doors second album, Strange Days. The song is a spoken word piece by Jim Morrison with the band providing frightening noises as a backdrop. Morrison screams the lyrics, telling of a ship at sea forced to jettison the onboard horses to lighten their load. The words are taken from one of the first poems Jim Morrison ever wrote, inspired by a book cover he saw at a local bookstore as a child.

Keyboardist Ray Manzarek mentions in his book Light My Fire he never believed Morrison wrote “Horse Latitudes” at such a young age, claiming the words were “too mature”.

This song often segued into Moonlight Drive, or vice versa, which follows it on the album.

This is another all digital piece. One of my biggest fears – drowning.

Photo credits:
HorseSergio Catala
HorseT.W. Vogel
WaterQuentin Houyoux
Big bubbleOktaviani Marvikasari