regret for wasted nights& wasted years
I pissed it all away
End with fond good-bye; plan for future—Not an actor
Which of my cellves will be remembered
I loved you
Money from home
stay out of trouble
|Jim in a suit...people are strange|
- Jim Morrison (Wilderness Vol. 1)
Looking back on the day September 13, 1969, a friend of mine, George, can recall exactly where he was: "I had a job," he says, "to look after Jim Morrison, the singer for The Doors. And it was fucking horrible."
That's the day of Toronto Rock n' Roll Revival, a 13-hour concert at the University of Toronto's Varsity Stadium. Although John Lennon showed up, The Doors headlined.
George was attending the University of Toronto at the time, and to make some money, signed on as an event organizer. Somehow George became a reluctant member of a small group waiting at the airport for The Doors to show up and escort them to the stadium. He'd been told to stay close to Jim Morrison, as it was rumored he was an alcoholic.
"I think he was already drunk when they landed," George explains, "or just acting weird. Regardless, he was a difficult guy to be around and I knew it was going to be a tough night because The Doors was on last."
I ask him if he regards his time with Morrison as important, given that Morrison has become a cultural icon, one of the great die-young gods, like Jimmy Dean and Marilyn Monroe. "Not at all," says George. "I never liked The Doors. I still don't. That organ they play reminds me of a cheap Bar Mitzvah quartet. I wanted to see Chuck Berry and Little Richard and John Lennon, but had to hang with Morrison, so I kind of missed the whole thing."
|Mr Mojo Risin'|
So I think about that. Maybe George is on to something—something about reckless youth, something about certain people who flame bright with life because they're burning at over three times the rate than the rest of us. An aunt of mine knew Jimi Hendrix, and she said that even though he seemed okay ("dressed a little wild"), you got the sense that he didn't belong anywhere...it was just 'a sense'.
And I think about George's affection for numbers: he's a good golfer, but he's a great numerologist, recognizing patterns and proclaiming hidden truths. He once told me that Einstein regarded math as an art, not just a science — an attitude that comes naturally to most people who are terrible with numbers.
Let's go back: it's July 7, 1983, and I'm hanging around Père Lachaise cemetery, just outside of Paris. I'm on an assignment (okay, freelancing) for a city arts magazine covering the twenty-second anniversary of Morrison's death. I'm five days late, as Morrison split on July 3, but I figure it doesn't matter, he was interred on July 7. Anyway, Morrison will wait around.
|This is The End|
It begins to rain, which is expected, even encouraged in Paris, because it makes the whole place even more beautiful. Nobody seems to notice; in fact, the Swedish kid has segued into an up-tempo, cheery version of The End. He sings phonetically, free from the encumbering meaning of words.
Forward we go: Twenty-five years later I tell my story about Pere Lachaise to George. I'm about to introduce a variation on the theme of Morrison's internment, but George's attention is drifting. He flicks his smoke away and turns to walk home.
George says, "You know what Morrison said to me that day at Varsity Stadium?"
"He said something like 'This is the last time I'll ever play Toronto.'"
|He knew how to party|
He laughs. "No. It's just numbers. He was less than five-hundred days from death. I worked it out once. And I suppose somewhere, deep down, like Hendrix and Joplin and Brian Jones and Kurt Cobain and Robert Johnson—if you're marked for the Twenty-Seven Club, you're toast. It's fate. There's no escape."
I never did finish that 1983 article about Morrison. I could never get it in focus. I didn't have the experience to appreciate fate. I myself was in the middle of a strange, dark apprenticeship and didn't even know it.
|"Stay out of trouble"|