The Lizard King

Diary. Friday 11th May 2007

I see myself as a huge fiery comet, a shooting star. Everyone stops, points up and gasps ‘Oh,look at that.’ Then – whoosh, and I’m gone and they’ll never see anything like it ever again, and they won’t be able to forget me – ever.

– Jim Morrison

I’ve often harboured a vague belief (or perhaps hope) – vestigial, unspoken – that 1960s Shamanic Doors’ front man Jim Morrison was still alive. It makes sense. His Parisian death faked so he could hide from fame, dodge the Rolling Stone cover sessions, the groupies, the parental attentions of the police department, and concentrate his attention on poetry (he writes peculiar, fractured stuff – I have a copy of The New Creatures and The Lords. My judgement is reserved). Such is my hope that I thought I saw him once – still wearing battered leathers, in the Chicago Rock Cafe, Salisbury, Wiltshire, September 2001, tucking into a burger. I approached him for a celebrity squiggle on my soiled paper napkin. Understandably he was perturbed. Upset. Confused at first he became angry. Suddenly I felt guilty that I’d blown his cover. Nervously I imagined CIA assassination squads in the shadows, pretending to examine Status Quo gold discs on the wall, Rick Astley’s mounted tie, Bono’s charity auctioned sense of modesty beautifully framed against red velvet. All the while greedily fingering service revolvers in their black suit pockets. They still hunted this man: the perverter of the American Dream. The singer who masturbated live onstage in front of Hippy teenagers. Listening to Jim’s outburst of filth in Chicago Rock it was strange to discover that since he last bawled his way through the L.A. Woman album – while Britain was struggling to come to terms with decimalization and Marc Bolan’s glittered face – he had developed a disconcerting West Country accent. Perhaps now I will have to accept that the man I interrupted mid-bite of his fat-sodden cheeseburger really was called Derek and he was indeed a rough cider brewer from Taunton, not a lost icon of the Counter-culture. I say this because I was sat in the Black Bull at Midgley outside Wakefield yesterday afternoon, having lunch, when I heard Will Young’s take on the Doors’ classic ‘Light my fire’. I know it was released some time ago but I can’t say it registered with me before. Surely if big Jim, the Lizard King, surely if he were still alive he’d have to seek Young out and give him a serious towelling for that absolute aberration? It nearly put me off my gammon.

Since Morrison’s death he has been seen in San Francisco, the Greek Islands, an obscure midwest radio station and working in a video shop in Salford, wrestling with a Manchester accent – The Guardian, Wednesday December 8, 1993

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