I have nothing to say about Live 8 that hasn’t already been said except that in my great need to avoid RobbiefuckingWilliams, who seemed to be under the impression people were there for him, I missed The Who. I’m told Roger remains Dorian Gray-like in his ability to stay looking forever young. I’m fairly positive that Live 8 will change absolutely fuck all, because rock and roll cannot save the world. Rock and roll cannot even save itself. Which brings me so neatly to the point of this post.
Thirty-four years ago today, Jim Morrison gave up.
It was thirty-four years ago today that my great love died. My monstrous but ever-loved Jim was found in a bath in Paris. Whether he died in the bath or out of it, I don’t know and I don’t care. I don’t care how or where or when he died, just that he did. Jimmy died and left an unborn child already a little broken. Jim did not wait to give me a chance. Jim did not wait to give himself a chance.
Death elevated Jim into the great pantheon of the honoured rock and roll dead, but I don’t think it was worth it. How great he might have become with more life! How great a poet he might have truly become with the maturity that comes of living a life. How great a statesman.
There’s a story I like to repeat whenever I can: Ray Manzarek, the supposed keeper of the Morrison flame, has said that the intention was to have Jim run for a political office in 1980. When I say a political office, I mean the political office. You Americans could’ve had Jim Morrison as a president, and instead you got a B-Movie Twerp. Are you yet rueing the day?
Do I think he’d have made a good president, incidentally? Not as he was in 1971, not even as he was in 1967. Had he grown up and grown into himself in those years between 71 and 80, he might’ve become a great, truly great man. Had he, of course, given himself the chance. I’ll never know, and neither will he.
I read something interesting about Philip Lynott yesterday, about how his lyrics often showed a complete lack of hope, how he didn’t ever lyrically expect life or love or himself to ever get better. I suppose Jim was the same. While the rest of the California hippies were turning on, tuning in and dropping out with their declarations of love and peace and isn’t the world great, Jim was getting drunk and telling us about eternal night, darkness and death. Jim was the cynical face of 1967. Jim was the ‘you’re all fucking morons’ side of it. Psychedelia was all very nice for Summer 67, but it didn’t last beyond the autumn and by 1968 we were back to revolution, killing and hatred again. Live and Let Live into Live and Let Die indeed. Paul was right about that much.
Jim knew it was going to happen. Jim was not hopeful, not really. Jim knew what the real world was like and he knew what the real world was becoming. If indeed, as more than one actual expert has suggested, Jim was a kind of messiah for the rock and roll generation, he saw the future and it was bad.
I personally feel that one of the reasons that future was bad was because he wasn’t in it, but I’m a sentimentalist like that.
For all his many, many faults, Jim saw the world for what it was, but he did not love it. He tried to change it, but failed as any one-man crusade always will. He tried to shake his audiences from their collective social-cultural coma, but all they did was shout for Light My Fire. I’d probably turn to fucking drink too.
He tried to educate us and all we asked him to do was take his shirt off, as if he was only good for being a sex symbol. You don’t think he grew that beard to become more beautiful, do you? If you’re trying to enlighten the world, trying to make a point or a difference, it must be really fucking frustrating to have your trousers talked about or be reduced to soundbites like ‘erotic politician’. To be hounded, literally fucking hounded by the Establishment doesn’t help.
Yes, Jim Morrison was an alcoholic, but I think anyone would struggle with the nonsense he had to put up with. And he said it himself way back in 1969:
“We are obsessed with heroes who live for us and whom we punish.”
He lived for us like no other rock and roll man. We have punished nobody more. We deserved much more from Jim Morrison, but he also deserved a great deal more from us. Ironic thing is, it continues even today. He lives for us in the ways we choose, as Lizard fucking King, as a silent, unmoving crucified hero and as rock cautionary tale. We punish him still, mocking him, tearing him apart and in all other ways not getting it at all.
We still deserve more than what he gave us. He still deserves more than we have given him. Thing is, we can actually do something about it. In that vein, I shall echo Jim: