Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

The Crystal Ship

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Psychedelic rock

April 1967

August 1966


"The Crystal Ship" is a song by The Doors from their 1967 debut album The Doors. It was also the B-side of the number-one hit single "Light My Fire". According to Doors drummer John Densmore it was written as a love song to Jim Morrison's first serious girlfriend, Mary Werbelow, shortly after their romance ended.


The meaning of the song has been debated. The title is taken from the 12th-century Irish Lebor na hUidre (Book of the Dun Cow) manuscript which compiles a series of Celtic legends. While the opening verse resembles a conventional love song, the later verses are less clear in intention and contain more open and 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 Darwin Falls, in Death Valley National Park.


Morrison's lyrics are often deliberately vague, and this, coupled with the song's dreamlike atmosphere, 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." 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".

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. Densmore responded although Jim was aware that "crystal" is slang for methedrine, he "wrote 'The Crystal Ship' for Mary Werbelow, a girlfriend with whom he was breaking up. The song was a goodbye love song."

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.


  • Jim Morrison - lead vocals
  • Robby Krieger - electric guitar
  • Ray Manzarek - Vox Continental, piano, keyboard bass
  • John Densmore - drums
  • Notable covers

  • Duran Duran: on their 1995 cover album Thank You
  • X: on 1998 soundtrack album The X-Files: The Album
  • Ray Manzarek: as a piano solo on his 2008 album Ballads Before the Rain, which otherwise consisted of instrumental duets with guitarist Roy Rogers
  • Robyn Hitchcock on his 2014 album The Man Upstairs
  • References

    The Crystal Ship Wikipedia

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