Ever since Jim Morrison cancelled his subscription to the resurrection in 1971, the Lizard King phenom has raged on. If you saw the Doors live, then you - like the little girls in "Back Door Man" - understand. Almost 14-years old on January 24th, 1969, I saw the Doors perform at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The songs and musicians were consummate, but mostly I remember the lead singer standing stock-still center stage. A fever drove me up out of my seat and I ran down to the proscenium's lip.
No doubt Morrison had Sinatra pipes and a movie star mug, but there was more. Despite getting whacked in the belly with a cop's billy club, I couldn't return to my seat. I staggered around until I was within a few feet of Jim. He was glowing - literally emitting heat - and I wasn't on drugs and it wasn't the dramatic light show. "Some are born to sweet delight/Some are born to the endless night." I'd been reading Blake and Rimbaud and this young god before me embodied and projected the dead poets' ancient desire to transcend the ordinary and become divine. He was the single most charismatic human being I've ever seen.
No one will ever know how Morrison would have adapted to history -- or changed it - if he'd lived. But it's difficult to conceive of him feeling at home in 2006, even more displaced than he was in his own time. This world is not safe harbor for divine poets. The singularity of Jim Morrison is that he remains adored because he would not do what everybody - nay anybody - told him to do and because he dared mortals to break on through to the other side and, ultimately, because his soul left his tired body while he soaked in a bathtub in Paris.
A posthumously released Doors gem is "Rock Is Dead". Jim recognized that when the 1960s were over, the postures and gimmicks of rock music had become self-parody and that "each generation wants new symbols, new people, and new names." He predicted a new music not called "rock, they'll invent some new name for it."
The irony is that, hip-hop notwithstanding, my 16-year old sister and 19-year old nephew are awed by Morrison and the Doors, as are millions of other young people born after Jim's death. There's a new Doors boxed set called Perception (Elektra/Rhino) and an oral autobiography simply called The Doors, co-written with Ben Fong-Torres and published by Hyperion. Both are ambitious and grand. I already own most of the tracks and I've read most of the stories, but I will dig walking through The Doors until my own last bath.
My sister and nephew? They can't wait to get their mitts on 'em.
THE SURVIVING DOORS - JOHN DENSMORE, ROBBIE KRIEGER, AND RAY MANZAREK - WILL BE PRESENTING AND SIGNING THE DOORS ON WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 7 PM, AT BOOK SOUP AND OTHER LOCATIONS ON SUNSET BOULEVARD IN WEST HOLLYWOOD.