Monday, June 18, 2012

Mr. Mojo Risin'

We watched the most amazing documentary about The Doors this weekend - "When You're Strange" by Tom DeCillo. It was absolutely brilliant, working in home movies and masses of rare concert footage.  We've all seen the Ed Sullivan performance - but to watch some of the lesser known concerts was incredible.

Mr. James Douglas Morrison was every inch the rock star. Charismatic, powerful, unique. And, for some reason, the police seemed to hate that about him.

There were so many scenes of him on stage with the police circling or watching from nearby. In 1969 after apparently "pulling it out" on stage in Miami, he was charged with lewdness and simulating masturbation among other things. Jim had been in trouble with the police before. But the documentary suggested these more serious charges - which caused mass concert cancellations - might've made Jim feel he was no longer invincible.

It was never proven that Jim really flashed what God gave him on stage that night. The documentary had only still shots and audio - and yes, he did have his hand in his pants. And yes, you do hear him say something like: "I know why you came here ... you didn't come here for the music ... you want to see my cock." So Jim was definitely pushing the boundaries. But the cops seemed to have it in for him even before that, circling like so many wolves.

I think authority figures absolutely detested Jim because he absolutely detested authority figures. His dad was in the Navy and, as most Morrison fans know, completely discouraged his interest in music, even writing Jim a letter that stated he had absolutely no talent in that direction. It wasn't until - get this - Jim was dead and buried in Pere Lachaise cemetery along with the likes of Oscar Wilde and Moliere that his father finally came to understand how famous he was. Jim had been pushing his father's buttons - the ultimate authority figure, especially considering his naval training - most of his life. It was natural he'd be able to antagonize the police, too.

At any rate, Jim was in Paris in July of 1971 because he was trying to concentrate on poetry and filmmaking. He wandered through Pere Lachaise Cemetery just weeks before he ended up buried there. He was drinking two or three bottles of whisky a day at the time. Even the documentary suggested that as the other members of the band were cleaning things up, Jim was drinking more and more and that he was often intolerable when he was drunk.

The French death certificate stated that "heart problems were aggravated by the abuse of alcohol, followed by an abrupt change in temperature." (Jim had taken a bath.) It was a really sad, anti-climactic end for an extraordinary soul.

His was the third and final in the Holy Trinity of rock deaths at the time, including Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. All of them were gone within a year. Before he died, Jim was actually known to have said: "You're drinking with number three."

By the way, the Morrison family has purchased Jim's cemetery plot at Pere Lachaise in perpetuity so we can all continue to make that half-drunk university backpacking pilgrimage forever. The Morrisons also bought a steam cleaner for the graveyard - to keep the graffiti down to a minimum. A steam cleaner for  his grave. I wonder what Jim would've thought of that.