I had wondered around Pere Lachaise clocking and checking the important, the famous and of course the dead - Comte had been first – it’s a sociology thing – founding father and all that. Inevitably though you stumble across old Mr Morrison in a corner of the cemetery. All incense sticks, cigarettes and armed guards. It’s an odd state of affairs to have an armed gendarme protect the ‘soul’ of the Lizard King but he’s there each day – at the ready in case some immaculately stoned youth decides to scrawl their own poetry over the headstone and further add to our misery.
It’s a depressing sight – you’d think in a cemetery it was always going to be – but there’s something fevered in the response of the visitors to this dead centre. I don’t think I’ve seen any other rock n roll graves – it’s not something I’ve taken an interest in to be honest. You know check out Bolan, Curtis, Ogden’s graves. I did read once that Andrew Innes had been sick at Elvis’s ‘shrinestone remembrance area’ [tm The Colonel] in Gracelands’ getting himself, Duffy and the Throb thrown out as a result. I thought this was an honourable way to recognise the impact of the King. Excess and reverence and retching rolled into one. But I haven’t really gone in for the whole great and the dead tour – laying 45s at the final resting places of the decadent and confused.
We happened across his big old grave to be honest – there was some foreign exchange student all wild eyed and haired staring intently at the stone – strung out on LSD and just going with the flow – no headphones – no ipod – just the soundtrack of his mind. I hope he didn’t have a Jefferson Airplane moment that brought him crashing back to reality – it can happen you know. Anyway he was giving the grave the wide eye and the guard was guarding – he may well have had his own soundtrack going on in his mind – it was hard to tell. He did look mightily bored though – I guess it doesn’t help the esteem when you’re down the local tabac and you say you’re pretty much security for someone who already took the bullet.
Except Jim never took a bullet – he took a bath. And died in it.
Not exactly like Marat is it? Not as important - although it was clear from the historical archives that Marat needed a wash – he’d been down in the sewers. It’s probably fair to say that Jim needed a sponge down too – what with all the leather and the blubber he’d piled on. And I’m not saying you can’t be large and a rock and roller – once again ladies and gentleman I give you the King. There’s a whole mythology that runs riot with Morrison all mystical musings and predictions and contradictions about words and actions and this is why I guess I hate the Doors. Because you don’t happen to find the Doors – no paths lead there. You are told about the Doors by a guy who’s finding his inner Native American and his experimentation has opened up the way to discover truths and that about himself, and America and the people [because they’re strange right?] and that he once looked at the skies above Arizona and Jim spoke to him.
And that person always wears a pair of leather trousers and will invariably drink ‘bourbon’ and will harangue you at your first university party.
I once had a pair of leather trousers and long hair. I hadn’t meant to tap into the Jim zone – I hadn’t witnessed a car load of dead Native Americans on a dusty Scunthorpe street – I had just grown my hair and bought some trousers from Daryl because he didn’t want them – it was more a club thing – the trousers were from William someone – bought in Manchester or Covent Garden or something – not Camden.
Anyway there were those that lost their way to the JD and the poetry of the Californian highway – I had made sure that I wasn’t one of them. I think it’s the studiedness of it all that grates with me – the elevation of a few choice words and phrases that taken as a ‘gospel’ and enlightened look at the now or in this case the ‘then’. I get the feeling Morrison was the Madonna of the 1960s – soul less and shallow but justified by those around him because they felt they should know a few references to this book and that he’d read and quote. I had a moment of transcendence with The Doors – found myself feeling quietly safe at a party in Brockley when Jim and the boys were playing – mild freakin’ whenever the Pixies were played. I got through it. Ended up throwing fried chicken across the streets of Lewisham – funny how the Doors can lead to that.
Wild abandon in a vacuous manner.
So as I said I think the overblown [American] saga that goes with the Doors and constant elevation of ‘god like’ status galls me and may well be the barrier to actually listening to them. Coupled with the fawning over Ray Manzarek’s keyboard action [I have a recollection of reading endless articles in some musical instrument magazine found in my local music shop] and already the gander is up. There’s a nod to the leftfield on the cover art that rankles me as well – and I can’t find the inclination to find out more. Perhaps I like my cool from the East coast – a different kind of leather.
However alongside this irrational hatred of The Doors comes the acceptance that they pretty much invented the ‘baggy scene’. And though it pains me to admit ‘Peacefrog’ is a groove that’s good to get down to. It rolls and it trips – jangles and jumps in simple lines and fluid bass. It’s like The Charlatans early demos. I haven’t heard them – but I guess this is what they would sound like.
So whilst inviting you in to hate The Doors with me. I give you this a testimony to the enduring ability to forgive and not take sides. I’m too old for that. I’m 41 today – so here’s The Doors. I’m a changing man.