As well anyone knows who follows this collection of insane ramblings, I come to this sanctum in fits and starts. I have dreams of writing more frequently, but alas my muse is far from a constant supplier of inspiration.
Suffice it to say that I have been jotting notes and making observations more apropos of the long-form ramble than the healthy (?) conversation of the podcast(s). But every so often the writing bug comes out of its cocoon and I just can’t squash it.
To kick off this hopefully-frequent period of writing, I figure there’s no better way to start than by writing about Jim Morrison. I doubt there’s any fan (save one) who has invested more thought in this specific childhood icon than I. I know that Craig and I have been planning a commentary track for the infamous 1991 Oliver Stone film for some time, but before we get to that point, I want to offer a few thoughts.
In my Freshman year in High School, I was the way so many of us were. I was aimless, unsure and insecure. Trying to find my way, I had latched onto The Doors. My love of the band, as I’ve established before, formed the foundation of one of the strongest friendships possible. Mike, the man for whom I’d take a bullet without a complaint, and I became friends based on our mutual love of a misfit decades dead.
So a little less than one year after a small school had graduated me from the eighth grade and sent me off to high school, there was supposed to be a reunion of sorts. I had just purchased the album L.A. Woman and set about convincing my parents to let me go.
Tired as they were (I understand so much better now!), they declined. It wasn’t worth their Friday night to drive their son to a reunion of eighth grade students trying to hang on to a nostalgia earlier than was their right.
Complicating the matter was that I had joined this group so late. I had come into their seventh grade flow only because my parents had pulled me out of the savage seventh grade reality of the local public school into the privileged private tribe they’d sacrificed to afford their troubled prince.
I had just purchased, with money I can’t quite recall as my right, a vinyl copy of L.A. Woman. I possessed an old stereo system that was once my parents’ and then my brothers’, and was now mine.
The night was rainy and dark, and I put on the album to regain my strength to fight for the right to join the party. That sealed my fate. I fell asleep on that night, and the song was “Cars Hiss By My Window.” The expected would have been Riders on the Storm, with its thunderstorm effect, given the weather at the time.
(For historical perspective, “Cars Hiss By My Window” was a song I sang to both my daughters to lull them to sleep while they were infants.)
But I remember awaking at the end of the album, the expected skip of the record needle as it hit the end of it spin, feeling refreshed and aware of my life. As I sit here, musing whether I am living within World War Three (repent now!), I remember that moment. I was refreshed and alive. I wish that this moment were the sort that could be experienced by those younger: the gentle reminder that you had received all that you could, and the opportunity to process that which you had.
Ever the misfit, I felt greater kinship with Morrison than any other dead figure. I could have chosen Washington, Voltaire, or even Eusebius, but I chose Morrison for his poetry and the constructed myth that demanded nothing demanding.
He was the person who asked only that I understand my own limitations, even if through the miracle of recorded voice. For that I loved him, and that is what powered my love for him for years after. Each time I hear L.A. Woman it is reminder of my own youth, and my desire for limitation.
And so I can listen still to the bizarre musings of Jim Morrison and feel a strange remembrance of the being who was not yet a man and yet so wished he could be.