I read the news the other day, oh boy, and found out it was 50 years ago that Jim Morrison checked out, either of a heart attack in a nice warm bath at home or overdosed on the throne at some local bar, depending on who you ask. Did anyone ever make a quicker descent from rock God to fat Elvis to dead Elvis? Man, he went for it.
In our household, my parents regularly discussed the news, but the death of a drugged-up hippy primarily known for getting arrested after waving his privates around on stage would have been low on their list of things to discuss with their 8-year-old son. That’s if they knew who he was, which seems as unlikely as me taking note of news about a rapper or singer in a boy band.
Without access to their music, other than “Light My Fire” on the Stardust soundtrack album, I read about them in books and magazines and was keen to find out more. About 4 years later, I was more than ready to pull out and demand to hear their albums when visiting friends whose parents were more liberal than my own. Which was almost everyone.
Before the world got poorly, I went to Paris with Mrs H, where I insisted on visiting Pere Lachaise cemetery. We arrived about an hour before closing time. She was tired and decided to help the sunset along with her knitting while I bounced around in search of what’s left of famous dead people, clutching the little map they handed me on the way in.
I said goodnight to Georges Melies and Edith Piaf, then found Simone Signoret and Yves Montand, who had the good sense to make things easier for death tourists by getting buried together. A brisk dash up the hill and I was soon channeling my inner Morrissey while having out with Oscar Wilde. The custodians grew so weary of cleaning his monument they stuck a huge glass box over it about twenty years ago. Nowadays, visitors chuck roses and whatnot over the walls before heading east to where the hardcore dudes hang out. For there rests Jim Morrison, under a mountain of tributes that photos suggest looks like a week’s worth of trash dumped on the unassuming marker beneath.
If you’ve seen The Prisoner, you might remember the buggies going out to retrieve Patrick McGoohan during his periodic escape attempts. About 20 minutes before closing time, the cemetery fills with similar vehicles, driving around exhorting anyone not 6 feet underground to make their way to the exit, barking at laggards through cracked loud hailers like some deranged Gallic Mark E Smith tribute act.
After losing a lot of weight, I discovered I can now run, better than I could as a teenager, or ever wanted to. I considered dodging the dune buggies and dashing over to see brother Jim, but quickly decided I couldn’t be bothered.
And that was when I realised The Doors, whose music meant so much to me as an angry/miserable, and usually both, teenager meant no longer held that magic for me. In addition, I wonder whether they ever did, or if I was merely dazzled by the legend.
There are about half a dozen songs I like well enough if I hear them on the radio. Two or three are so good that straight after hearing them I want to listen to them again. Mostly, they feel like something I used to do a long time ago and now can’t remember why. I’ve heard rereading Catcher in the Rye as an adult has the same effect on many.
If I heard “The End” coming from one of our children’s rooms, I’d probably walk on down the hall and ask them nicely to shut the door. Father, I want to… That’s very nice son, would you mind doing it more quietly?
So, am I maligning the Lizard King, or was he really wandering around most of the time stark naked, as opposed to simply waving his bits around at those who may or may not have wanted to see them?
And who in your musical life either appeared, or was heralded, as the second coming but turned out just to be a naughty boy?