Yet another year has passed to force the death of John Lennon and the birth of Jim Morrison further into history. Another year in which we have been lied to by politicians and musicians alike, another year of startling mediocrity.
“Can you give me sanctuary, I must find a place to hide. A place for me to hide.”
It is now 61 years since Jim Morrison entered the world. I don’t know if he turned up screaming, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Had he lived to this point, I imagine he’d still be screaming about something. His hair might still be long, but likely streaked with grey and silver. I imagine he’d still be causing a stir- certainly more of a Keith Richards than a Mick Jagger.
It is my firm, deeply held belief that Jim Morrison died before his time. It is my firm, deeply held belief that a longer life would have made him more of a legend, not less. It may be that he is rock’s messiah, that he died for us. I don’t entirely believe that, and I would much rather he had lived for us. But like Alexander The Great (who Jim attempted to emulate in some ways) and Achilles and a thousand other handsome young heroes lost to history, Jim’s current glory lies in his death rather than his life. He is remembered as a dead drunk in a bath, not a poet or singer who tried to change the world. He tried to shake us from our monotonous passivity and we just asked for ‘Light My Fire’. It may be that Jim failed in his most ardent desire- to empower his audience and make them think. And that is a far greater tragedy than dying in a bath.
“Once you make peace with authority, you become an authority.”
Somehow, I get the feeling that 61-year-old James would be as much an anti-authority as the 21-year-old Jim was.
As he said more than once: WAKE UP!
I was the dreamweaver, but now I’m reborn. I was the Walrus, but now I’m John.”
It is now 24 years since John Lennon was killed outside his own home. His murderer has been denied parole yet again, and despite some saying that John would want him released if he’d truly repented, I’m of the opinion that John isn’t here to tell us himself- and that man is the reason why. Mark Chapman didn’t only kill a man, didn’t only kill a singer. He killed our conscience. John Lennon was brutally honest when he wrote, even if it laid his own weaknesses out bare. He was honest with us as well, and I truly believe that with him gone, our world is immeasurably worse off. He was our conscience and had he been here, they may not have even been a first President Bush, let alone a second. He was our hero and our conscience, our own hearts and souls scratched onto vinyl. He was an icon long before he died, and unlike almost every other rock and roll fatality, did not cause his own death. He did not die of his own will like Cobain, he did not die of his own neglect like Lynott, he did not die of his own weakness like Morrison. He died because someone wanted to be famous.
John Lennon ended up investigated by the FBI because of his willingness to publicly support causes he believed in, from James Hanratty and feminism (when it was deeply unfashionable for a man to believe in it) to Irish republicanism and jailed dope smokers. He cared and didn’t care who knew. Mark Chapman killed him because he wanted people to know his name and recognise his face.
We now live in a world where you can get famous by laying bare everything on TV/in a newspaper. This is a country filled with news about I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here and Big Brother, a country where we seem to care more about David Beckham’s mobile phone than the fate of other human beings.
So whose reality won: John Lennon’s or Mark Chapman’s? That’s the real tragedy here.
And a couple of images of my boys as you might not have seen them before:
Someone has delusions of Alexander, methinks. That, or he looks like a statue of Adonis.
Both of these were taken on the set of How I Won The War on location in Spain. If the first doesn’t make you smile, you have no heart, if the second doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, you have no soul.
These two glorious examples of humanity couldn’t save themselves, much less us. They’re not the answers to all our problems, but they would’ve made the journey to today much more bearable.