I can't see your face in my mind. (2x)
Consume the lines.
Can't see your face in my mind.
Don't you cry.
Baby, please don't cry.
And don't look at me
With your eyes.
I can't seem to find the right lie. (2x)
Adorns the sky.
Can't seem to find the right lie.
[Repeat 1st verse]
I won't need your picture
Until we say goodbye.
There are echoes in the Strange Days album between many of the included songs: pairings of theme such as the song Strange Days and People are Strange, My Eyes Have Seen You and I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind; pairings of intention between songs of the Door’s first album and this one; and pairings of metaphors within the Strange Days album itself. Morrison uses sparse surrealistic images (rather than piling them on like Bob Dylan), but they gain weight, or rather, mystery, by their echoes somewhere else in the record. In the song I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind, “insanity’s horse” echoes the album cut Horse Latitudes, while “carnival dogs” remind me of Strange Day’s carnivalesque (as in Michel Bakhtin) album cover.
Rarely had such pairing of song lyrics been composed for a popular album in the genre of psychedelic music. Outside of the pairing of A and B sides Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever by the Beatles, and the thematic pairing of I Know There's an Answer and I Just Wasn't Made for These Times on the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album, I can’t think of an example of equal achievement to My Eyes Have Seen You and I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind. The Beatles shared a project of depicting their childhood memories in their pairing, while Brian Wilson sang about an artist’s insecurity in his pair of songs. Jim Morrison instead offers two sides of an experience of ecstasy: the desire that the moment will last forever and the inability of memory to hold the details of that experience. At best the memory is impressionistic, a shadow of itself. The “lines” of “your face”, the “alleys” of your body are consumed by “carnival dogs”, the decay of meat perception. The best way to maintain the memory in such a way as to continue to enjoy it, Morrison suggests, is to find the right lie, to create the myth, the fiction around it that focuses on the experience’s meaningful aspects.
This song seems to deny that there is any way to truly photograph Morrison’s desire so that he can recall it to mind without props. Meanwhile, in reality, the props are not necessary and refused. The lyric seems to disdain taking a picture of what is presently at hand: I won’t need your picture until you say goodbye, quite alien to the impulse of the previous song which seems to be (forty years later) a desire to videotape a special sexual encounter. (I think however that Morrison means to emphasize his unwillingness—in both “seeing” songs—to letting the ecstatic moment go. It’s an emotion which is often encountered in the LSD experience, and finds expression in other psychedelic music. Bass Strings by County Joe and the Fish made the same case earlier in 1967, but other songs would echo the sentiment during the following years. In this sense, the last line of I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind echoes the closing line Crystal Ship from the first Doors album: When we get back, I’ll drop a line. There’s no need to make art in which to memorialize a treasured moment until that moment has passed.
The tenderness and delicacy of the music that accompanies I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind also seems associated with the sounds of Crystal Ship, though there is more psychedelic distortion in I Can’t See Your Face. Indeed, the “carnival dogs” that “bark” on Krieger’s guitar seem related to the “scream of a butterfly” in the album’s closing number, When the Music’s Over. The backwards recording of John Densmore’s drums in the break finds a different modality than Ringo Starr's in Strawberry Fields by slowing the beat down to a sort of sipping sound.