“Is everybody in?
Is everybody in?
Is everybody in?
The ceremony is about to begin.
The entertainment for this evening is not new, you’ve seen this entertainment through and through you have seen your birth, your life, your death….
you may recall all the rest.
Did you have a good world when you died?
- enough to base a movie on??” ~ James Douglas Morrison
In a way, on this wintery edge of ritual, I am offering a prayer, I am offering a lament, I am burning candles in a dark room for my profane father on this, his seventy third birthday.
Jim Morrison came to me as a sort of inherited interest. My mother loved Jim. The liked The Doors but she obsessed over Morrison like no other person I ever saw her pay attention to. She collected facts, kept small journals full of notes, information, suppositions that she corrected over time.
She went so far to keep a small picture of him, taped to a thin piece of cardboard as a bookmark.
A couple of oddities about Morrison and me personally. I was born a month pre-mature exactly eight months after my mother got backstage at The Doors concert in Columbus Ohio.
After I discovered this fact as a teenager, any time The Doors would come on the radio within my father’s earshot, he would chuckle and say, “Your old man is on the radio.”
During my late teen years I bore a striking resemblance to Morrison. Does any of this mean that I believe myself to be Jim Morrison’s biological son? No. But in a way, he is most definitely my dad…
While I loved the music of the Doors as a teen, it wasn’t until I was nearly twenty five before his voice, his magic, his illness slipped into my bloodstream through my eager ears. I discovered a cd called An American Prayer on a shelf in a used record store and when the word POETRY glared at me from the cover, I knew that I had to dig into it and see what it held for me.
I bought it for a road trip, to listen to during a trip to New Orleans, a trip meant to drown out the sorrow in my head surrounding the death of my mother and how horribly I had fucked up the most amazing relationship that I could have ever had…
I was burning, I was lost, I was angry, terrified, drinking more whiskey than should have been possible and leaving myself vulnerable to any lightning bolt that had the guts to strike me down. I was ready to go out, but I was not going to fall easily, the world would have had to work for it.
But as I rolled down that grey Gypsy ribbon of highway, I slid that cd into the slot in the dash, listened to it him for a moment and then there was Jim’s voice asking, “Is everybody in?”
And he owned me.
From that moment until the cd ended some forty five minutes later with him uttering the lines
“I will not go
Prefer a Feast of Friends
To the Giant Family.”
His voice, honey and huskiness, soft and roaring, gentle and manic had ridden with me and through tears I could do nothing but re-start it and listen again. He was speaking of forbidden things, using words that made society tremble, still, twenty four years after his passing, he spoke to my gut, my raging sexuality, my bottomless pain now had a description and he had painted it with his tongue on the skin of a dark skinned Mexican girl that existed forever in the hotel room of my mind. A gift from my new lyrical father.
By the time my trip was over, I knew the album by heart, had purchased both of Morrison’s poetry books at a shop in NOLA and had already dog eared and stained them with tears, bourbon and chartreuse. I had a new voice curling in my void, it was sinuous and serpentine like smoke, but oily and smelled of male musk and by the time I put pen to paper again, I was forever changed.
Jim had seduced me, much has he had done hundreds, if not thousands of others, with his fingers on their throats and his teeth in their skins, he had growled his energy into me, thus ensuring his immortality perhaps, but without a doubt, marking me with his brand. I had been burned, I had been altered and it was not possible to hide it. I walked back into my life with a chip on my shoulder made of language and the arrogance of a fallen angel.
When he has screamed “WAKE UP!” I had done just that, and I have not slept since.
I ask you, I implore you, sacrifice yourself on this altar of silence and join me in wishing him, wishing Jim a happy 73rd birthday and I will finish with a quote about Morrison and one of his poems…
“Jim Morrison—it’s a strange story—that he drowned in a bathtub in Paris. It seems a Goddamned odd thing to happen. I never believed it for a minute.” – William S. Burroughs
“Do you know how pale & wanton thrillful
comes death on a strange hour
unannounced, unplanned for
like a scaring over-friendly guest you’ve
brought to bed
Death makes angels of us all
& gives us wings
where we had shoulders
smooth as raven’s
claws” ~ Jim Morrison