On Friday July 24th 2015 once again I will walk out on the stage at the Feast Of Friends Doors Festival in the former East German city of Magdeburg and slip into the spirit of one James Douglas Morrison and, with the other three musicians, do my damnedest to recreate the soul and the essence of his music. I have been doing this for years, and though I’m not prone to believing in matters spiritual, I’ll know that I’ll feel Jim looking over my shoulder. I always do.
We humans are a funny lot. We seem to find it necessary from time to time to visit places where people have met their timely or untimely ends. People pilgrimage to Dallas Texas and stand around Dealey Plaza as if being there will give the events of JFK’s death more substance. They stand in awed silence at Ground Zero in Manhattan, trying to fathom the horror of that fateful day in September 2001. Fans journey to Graceland and attempt to feel the last vestiges of Elvis’ life before he exited the building forever. And me, I turn up every now and then at number 17 Rue Beautreillis and wonder what really happened on the night of the 3rd of July 1971.
But standing around on the street isn’t going to solve an unsolvable mystery. The best I can do is my annual early morning visit, before the crowds get too large, to Morrison’s gravesite in the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, where I quickly climb over the barriers and place a rose on his grave. I then make a hasty exit because I really dislike the perpetual three-ring circus that goes on at his gravesite. Jim originally went to Paris to find peace and poetry. For the poetry there was too little time left and even death has denied him the peace he sought.
Today I walked over to the Marais district and wandered down the Rue Beautreillis. I did spot an interesting street art portrait that might be Morrison’s face that I hadn’t noticed before above the street sign on the corner. In the next few days I will take the bus out to the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise and once again pay my respects. Having bought the first Doors album in December 1966 when I was 16, and having performed his music over the last twenty-five years, it’s almost like I’m remembering a friend. And I know that when I look out over the audience of Doors’ fans at the Feast Of Friends Festival and begin to sing When The Music’s Over, he’ll be there in the back of my mind, watching…
Two earlier posts about Morrison and the Rue Beautreillis can be found here:
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