Looking back over a week in which we lost Captain Beefheart and relocated our old friend Jimbo… Let’s just rock, shall we?
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Morrison and "ladyfriend" on an undisclosed beach, circa 1988.
Rock Town Hall has received exclusive word that a correction is due to today’s news that outgoing Florida governor Charlie Crist has posthumously pardoned former Doors singer Jim Morrison. “Mr. Mod,” began a most unlikely voicemail received this morning, “can you see that media outlets drop the ‘posthumous’ part of stories about my pardon?” The caller, who identified himself as “Jimbo,” offered an exclusive interview with Rock Town Hall because, as he put it, “You guys deal shit, but you don’t take it.” The message ended with a promise of a return call at 12:55 pm EST. The caller chuckled knowingly.
What could I do but see that my calendar was clear at that time and see what developed? Following is a transcript of my call with “Jimbo,” who would not disclose his location but did convincingly cite all the inaccuracies in Oliver Stone‘s movie The Doors.
Rock Town Hall: Thanks for getting in touch with us. This is, to say the least, an intriguing story. For the record, you claim to be Jim Morrison of The Doors?
Jimbo: I’m Popeye the Sailor Man, all right. You can call me Jimbo.
RTH: OK… At the risk of this being some cheap snow job, let’s continue.
Crist said he won’t make the decision lightly, noting the many complexities surrounding the 41-year-old case. Numerous sound recordings from the show exist, for example, but Morrison’s defenders say none of the scores of photographs from the show prove the exposure charge.
“We would have to look into all of that,” Crist said.
This past Friday night I got to see most of the new Tom DiCillo documentary on The Doors, When You’re Strange. I say “most” because the DVD being used to project this film in Philadelphia’s cool, hip outdoor Piazza at Schmidt‘s condo gathering space crapped out twice for long stretches. It was a pretty cold and windy night, and after the second run of technical difficulties, with just the fat, bearded period of Jim Morrison and The Doors’ life left to tell, my son and I felt like we’d had enough of a great night out, talking music and life and all that good stuff. We listened to – and talked about – Pink Floyd and Yes on the ride home. It was a beautiful time, man, and although I regret not seeing my favorite period of The Doors covered, we’d gotten more than our money’s worth. Continue reading »
I’m excited to see the new documentary on The Doors, When You’re Strange, which is playing for free in Philadelphia this Friday night, April 9. My excitement is for a range of reasons, from the fact that it’s directed by Tom DiCillo, who’s first three movies (Living in Oblivion, Box of Moonlight, Johnny Suede) were indie joys for me in the ’90s, to the fact that I like my share of Doors music as well as get a great deal of laughs out of the band’s pretensions and their even more incredibly pretentious diehard fans. I’m sure this film’s narrator, Johnny Depp, for instance, is going to match Ray Manzarek for jive-ass references to “shamen” and other mystical “native” nonsense that no white man who’s not a professor of anthropology should be caught dead talking about.
I’m suspect this film will only perpetrate the mythology around The Doors and Jim Morrison, but I wish more people could see The Door for what they really were, not for what most of their fans wish they could be. For instance:
The Doors were a solid psych-pop group with tight production, not groundbreaking avant-garde visionaries!
The Doors were a tough, little blues-rock combo, not the house band for the Weimar Republic.
Jim Morrison’s lyrics were usually pretty funny and only worked in the context of his committed approach to desiring transcendence within the confines of his solid, little psych-pop/blues-rock combo. He was no American Poet!
Jim Morrison’s not alive; he’s dead.
I’m not trying to degrade the work of The Doors. There’s so much to like over the course of their brief career that reasonable rock ‘n roll fans can’t be bothered to hear for what it is for the risk of letting any of the wacko cult-worshipping leak into their lives. I’m trying to uncover the true and meaningful legacy of The Doors. For those Doors fans who use the band as a means for compensating for their empty spiritual lives, get a practicing shaman to guide you!
Is there an artist you wish people could see for what they are, not for what most of their fans wish they could be?
Yes, Jim Morrison was a bad poet with a ridiculous persona. Yes, Ray Manzarek is still smugly obsequious nearly 40 years after Jimbo’s death. And yes, that tour with Stewart Copeland and the dude from The Cult is one of the most pathetic attempts to keep a boomer-rock brand on the shelves waaaaayyy past its sell-by date.
But do The Doors suck? Like, is their music that bad? They had a kinda seedy punk-rock intensity about them, like The Velvets. They had jazz and blues chops that, to my ears, are more appealing than those of The Grateful Dead. They managed to convey both of the above in their singles, which are often hella punchy and catchy to boot.
I mean, if you think “Light My Fire” sucks, but “Marquee Moon” is awesome, that’s a little strange, right? You should have some really solid data backing up your statement, I think.
I’m not saying I’m a Doors fan all of a sudden. I just wonder if there’s an objective reason for saying they suck. But more importantly, I’d like to hear what Townspeople really think of The Doors.