Horse Latitudes Lyrics - The Doors
Review The Song (18)
When the still sea conspires an armor
And her sullen and aborted
Currents breed tiny monsters
True sailing is dead
And the first animal is jettisoned
Legs furiously pumping
Their stiff green gallop
And heads bob up
In mute nostril agony
And sealed over
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All of the aove | Reviewer: Anonymous | 11/8/12
Jim was a visionary, no doubt. I met him in las vegas and was his driver from the tropicana to the ice palace for a concert. He had been arrested in vegas earlier for some stupid shit but was let out in time for the show. I remember he had cut his hair and people at the concert thought it was not him. He did horse latitudes at that show. You could hear a pin drop. He asked me where to go after the show for a drink and some action. I took him and robbie back to the tropicana and sat at a bar in the casino and had several. Nobody knew who he was. He liked that. I called a couple of girls i knew to come to the casino and join us. Robbie left and went to his room. Jim and I sat and talked for about an hour until the girls got there. The rest is history. We kept in touch until his death. He would come to vegas and hang out. Vegas was into sinatra and such so he could go and move around the city without too much hassle. I am from there and therefore knew the off the strip hang outs. He would drive in often with a couple of people often with Mclure and Pam. He loved the freedom vegas offered.
Another Take | Reviewer: Jack Lammy | 11/6/12
To me this song has always demonstrated class struggle. When the world starts to twist itself upside down, those in power, the sailors, make sure that the first things to go are the horses, the hard-working stiff backbone of the world without much say in anything. Such are the ways of war, when war erupts those with the power send the work horse to sacrifice themselves for the survival of the upper class. This could also apply to anything else pertaining to business and politics.
Import ships | Reviewer: Anonymous | 11/26/11
Ray Manzarek's autobiography talked about how Morrison wrote this poem when he was sixteen - it was about import ships coming over to America and when things were too heavy they threw the horses over board.
It's a metaphor for the treacherous sea inside our heads | Reviewer: Jordan | 12/8/10
When the still sea (the unaltered brain)conspires an armor (tough resistance against mindless conformity) true sailing is dead--true sailing meaning calm, peaceful movement through an ordinary existence. The tiny monsters are the evil, ugly notions in our thinking, that distorts us and turns us black where before the water was crystal clear. All the turmoil that follows, in one's clear, present, and wise lofted mind, rises to float delicately on this stormy sea thrusted by hate and love.
Sailing is discovery, yet in discovery there are unwanted truths that we may try to, but never can, manage.
Study people, study. | Reviewer: Eli | 9/28/09
When stuck the water for days, people imagine seeing all kinds of things. Cloud shapes, movements in the water, and night time images in the sky. Sailors made claims that they saw distant monsters in these areas in any of the aforementioned scenes.
The 'tiny monsters' refers to the belief that freakish monsters living there would inhale all the breeze rendering the air to be still. So still that ships did not move in the water and would 'sit' in the latitudes for days with no signs of a stiff breeze. Ancient maps showed monster heads in the area of the ocean. (Google this and look at it.)
Sailors imagined sea serpents and air monsters in the slight movement of the ocean. Because these areas were strange, they were thought to be places where the monsters dwelled and would halt sailing ships to render their bounty.
These ships often carried livestock from Spain to transport them to the West Indies.
Theories range from sacrificing animals to throwing them overboard to feed the the monsters who would then exhale and allow the ship to sail in the breeze once again. Other theories were that to toss the livestock out would 'lighten' the ship making it easier to move in slight breezes. Major theory is that the animals would die as food and water storage depleted so tossing them overboard eliminated them as a maintenance problem, especially if they died on board.
It was also theorized that anything that died on board a sailing ship was bad luck. Fear of this caused all sorts of logic and beliefs, as well as songs and poems.
Their 'stiff green gallop' refers to the mighty effort of muscles thrashing wildly when an animal is thrown into the water. All their bodily muscles are used as they try to survive. From the point of view of the horse, Morrison described what it must have been like. 'Green' meaning alive and active no longer atrophied as it must be used by involuntary action to try to survive. You'll notice he says 'furiously pumping' which is an excellent description of what panic an animal would experience.
Morrison studied the horse latitudes and wrote a piece on the experience of the sailors and of the horses. No drug meaning in there, no metaphors for struggle in life, just a historical account of what it must have been like to watch an animal drown.
It is a piece of drama, based on truth, nothing more.
while in high school | Reviewer: jwhall | 7/6/09
I first heard this in high school.on the surface I was alittle withdrawn.Under it all,was tumoil and a strong desire for a "normal" life.Some what like when simone an garfunke sang I am a rock,I took it to mean a way of keeping the monsters in my head at bay.I always thought this poem was a reference to not being able to feel normal when faced with internal demons.
Tiny Monsters | Reviewer: stevo1 | 6/22/09
...sayruh wrote on 9/4/07:
"i dont know what the tiny monsters are, but keeping this in mind, the rest of the song makes sense."
Due to the near currentless and windless area of the Horse Latitudes, this area is also known to produce prolific algae and plankton blooms...hence the "tiny monsters." This also references the "stiff green gallop" line with the horses thrashing about in the algae/plankton rich sea green water trying to swim. As someone mentioned before, this piece is much more literal than people make it out. It's really a lot more simple than we imagine, it just sounds so profound...but, then again...that's Jim for ya. He could make the most mundane things seem awesome!
Horse Latitudes. | Reviewer: Will | 5/7/09
I don't know what it's about. But I think we can't interpret a poem. It's a matter of feelings, more than a matter of thoughts. Maybe Jim was the only one that could really know the meaning of it. I wanted to ask him... but his on the other side. =\
The real meaning of the poem/song | Reviewer: Jim Griffin | 2/14/09
This was one of Jim's poems he made in high school. He saw a painting of a horse being jettisoned (cast overboard). So it inspired him to make the poem. It stuck with him through journals and such. The rest of the Doors liked it, so they turned into a song. They had people in the studio make the moans and groans you hear. Atleast thats what I've read in "Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend" by Stephen Davis, and "No One Here Gets Out Alive" by Danny Sugarman and Jerry Hopkins (2 of the best selling and known books about Mr. Morrison)
Jim Lives Forever Within Us!
WOW | Reviewer: Tahlia | 10/10/08
Just listening to this gives me goosebumps. Everyone says its very scary but I think its my favorite poem. maybe the sound effects and the wailing give it more power.
There are so many interpretations to this song. My interpretation is just the sheer horror the horses feel. Also imagine the sailors having to watch these animals thrashing in the water. Awful.
I don't think its about heroin but you never know. Some people say its about war, losing your virginity. Hell, Wikipedia even says its about the point of ejaculation so who knows?!
Jim Morrison was very talented, that's all I know.
Poet to Poet | Reviewer: ArkAngel | 9/13/08
There's a really good collection of poetry by Northern Irish poet Paul Muldoon called Horse Latitudes which is a good place to go after you've absorbed Jim's song. Muldoon was born in County Armagh but now lives in the US teaching at Princeton. He was described by the Times Literary Supplement as "The most significant English-language poet born since the Second World War." Since Jim was born during the war we can let that one go.
As a science teacher and musician.... | Reviewer: Cosmic Traveler | 2/14/08
The Horse Latitudes are between 30 & 35 degrees N & S of the equator. This is a region where cool dry air falls onto all these areas. The air is very dry, all the water having condensed out of it as it rose over the tropics (doldrums, or Intertropical Convergence Zone ITCZ). Deserts occur when the Horse Latitudes are over land. However, sailing ships would become stuck in the calm seas and because of dry conditions, would run short on water and the animals would have to be "jettisoned" to prevent having a boatload of rotting horseflesh. Therefore: Horse Latitudes. Jim was a poet, he wrote this in high school when he learned of the tales of the sailors and the horse latitudes. This poem is acutally more literal than most of us realize!! It is very good, I use it to teach my students about Horse Latitudes.
Sexuallity | Reviewer: Mark 2000 | 10/13/07
I disagree with the heroin references. Jim never ever took the stuff and he was strongly against it. This is more about loss of virginity. Poise, delicate, pause, consent.
Double Meanings! | Reviewer: Anonymous | 9/18/07
Besides the interpretations above, which are correct, this did happen in history, horse is a slang for heroin, and latitude can mean freedom from restrictions. Every single line in this song can be taken in 2 ways of sailing or heroin usage.
This was originally written while Morrison was in high school, and before he ever took drugs which makes it all the more incredible.
What it means | Reviewer: Rob | 9/8/07
The Horse Latitudes have little to know wind usually, so old sailing ships would have trouble getting to land in time. They'd basically be drifting out there, so they throw animals over to conserve water.
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