Tag Archives: James Morrison

J- Jim Morrison: A Reply #atozchallenge.

Hey Ro,

Sorry, about jumping out of your box of Weetbix. With all of Paris hunting me down both through the streets and underground, it was the only place I could find that was safe.

Somehow, the word’s got out:

“Jimmy is alive!”

Believe me! There’s such a thing as too much love.

It’s not much fun being a wanted man.

As much as I was happy being left in peace, being a legend in death is rather strange and I needed to speak:

Jim Morrison Grave

His grave became a shrine.

Jimmy Speaks: A Visit to His Grave 1992.

Why do they keep coming here?

This isn’t my home.

It’s nothing

but a lump of stone.

Smoking pot.

Drinking wine.

They’ve turned this place

into a shrine.

Yet, I am not dead.

I’m not alive.

We only have one life.

So, why don’t they live it?

They’ll never find the answers

sitting down.

Cheers,

Jimmy

PS: The doors of perception open, when you look through the eyes of your heart!

 …..

Much to my surprise, this letter from Jim Morrison fell out of my box of Weetbix this morning.

Last night, all hell broke loose on the streets of Paris, and even underground. Jimmy was a hunted man. Somehow, the very simple letter I’d left at his grave, launched these explosive headlines right across the Net:

Jimmy Is Alive!

What had I done?

I went home.  Left the hoards to themselves. It seems even in death, infamy still has its price.

So, after not so much as a peek or a creak from Jim, I decided that Jim was done with this world. There would be no reply.

I was very surprised.

Interesting how someone who had a strange life and an ever stranger more mysterious death, still remains such an enigma. I should have known a simple letter was never going to unravel the mystery. Indeed, I might even be more confused!

By the way, do you have a favourite song by The Doors and have you even been to James Morrison’s grave?

Xx Rowena

PS: These “doors of perception”, have come to intrigue me. Now, all I need is the key!

You can read my letter to Jim Morrison Here.

 

 

 

J-A Letter to Jim Morrison-The Doors.

Hey Jim,

How are you?

I probably shouldn’t ask. However, I can’t help hoping things have changed, after having so much time to reflect? Any regrets? Or, did you finally find what you were looking for? Indeed, have I woken up the wrong dead poet and should’ve left you alone?

Of course curiosity beckons. Have you finally experienced William Blake’s “doors of perception” and are in a different zone:

 If the doors of perception were cleansed

everything would appear to man as it is, infinite

 For man has closed himself up, till he sees

all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

 William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Sorry I’m so full of questions but it’s not every day you get to speak with Jim Morrison. Your songs still move me. Move mountains of people!

However, as yet, you haven’t said a word. There’s only silence.

So, what should I do? Leave you alone or venture in? Turn on the light?

Unexpectedly, I spot a ladder sticking out of a hole in the road. Curiosity beckons. Where are you? Hiding somewhere within this subterranean labyrinth and is this some kind of unconventional invitation to come inside? You’re not making it easy to find you! The more you play hard to get, the more doubts I have. Should I really be risking self-destruction dancing with the dark side, when I have so much to lose?

However, I have no choice!

After all, when you talk about famous graves, yours is almost tops the list.

DSC_0901

I remember when I was last here at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Summer 1992. The crowds were contemplatively gathered around your grave and all roads led to “JIM”. It was all quite strange, surreal. Why would anyone seek answers from someone who seemingly combusted in the dark? I don’t know. Yet, I was there too…taking photos.

DSC_0903.JPG

Photo: Rowena Newton

Of course, the crowds probably don’t know you’re a poet. No! You’re Jim Morrison the legendary singer from The Doors. Yet, you also wrote and published your own poems. They mattered and were part of you, just like my poems are an intrinsic part of me.

Now, I am back and staring at the ladder sticking out of the road. Instinct tells me to simply walk away. I’m now a grown-up, married, kids, mortgage, two dogs…I don’t need to dabble in the dark and should be sticking to “sunny side up”!

Yet, what did I say about The Road Not Taken? Being a traveller exploring new worlds? If I didn’t know better, you could even mistake this hole for a certain rabbit burrow and I can almost envision the Mad Hatter’s tea party going on down below.

There is no holding back. I’m poised on the edge of the ladder ready  to explore the depths of who you were and what happened, even if this only is a fleeting stop on my way through an A-Z of dead poets.

I hope you’re not offended but this could well be a quicker stop than most. I don’t want to get bogged down and consumed by the dark. At the same time, knowing there are people drowning right in front of me, how can I just switch off? Switch off the light when these seekers need it most?

As you said:

We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict.

-Jim Morrison

Indeed, I wonder if they’re desperately seeking the light but have somehow lost their way and wound up here… sitting round your grave lighting candles expecting goodness knows what.

DSC_0902

The Great Quest For Meaning: Jim Morrison’s Grave. Photo: Rowena Newton.

Perhaps, I should say hello. Give them an Aussie “G’day Mate” and see how they respond. After all, this journey isn’t just about me and staying in my comfort zone but also turning myself inside out and all that entails. Think with my heart and reach out.

Once you think with your heart, you have to move beyond self-preservation. Step far beyond your comfort zone and walk right out onto that ledge. You can no longer retreat and play it safe. The eyes of your heart have seen. You can’t turn back. After all, I was lost in Paris once and no one let me drown. My friends held on.

That doesn’t mean I’m not afraid.

Paralysed at the top of the ladder, I’m absolutely terrified. My body’s glued to the spot, although my breathing’s accelerated like a locomotive and is moving into full throttle. Just when I need to have my wits switched on, everything is spinning, whirling all around me in a pixelated haze. I want to make it stop. Slow down. Put on the brakes. But I can’t. I’m only a spectator caught inside your head. Or to be precise, still peering in over the edge. Your sub-conscious is lurking down below and as much as I want to get close and unlock its secrets, I don’t want to fall in. Get stuck in the abyss.

Tentatively, I take a step down through this dark and slippery slime. Then, another.

It’s so dark, pitch-black and the rain’s pouring in.  Any moment I could slip and fall to my death. Hush! Someone ‘s crying. Crying so much, there’s a flood. They’ve been crying for so long, all around that lump of stone… your eternal home. You’re all around here. All roads lead to “JIM” as if you had all the answers. So hard to understand when you somehow lost yourself?

Back in July 1992, I also sat by your grave. I wasn’t looking there for answers but I’d already had words with Rodin’s The Thinker as well as Mona Lisa. Neither could explain why I’d been dumped in Paris, the so-called “city of love”. Or, why my heart was ripped unceremoniously out of my chest and dumped in the River Seine. My love was too much and I was simply left deserted at Gare du Nord with my life in my backpack and four plastic shopping bags. Like so many, I only saw love’s roses and forgot all about the thorns!

Why did it have to hurt so much? Completely crushed and yet somehow I still woke up. Escaped oblivion.

Poetry Reading

Taken During My Poetry Reading at the Shakespeare Bookshop, Paris 1992.

I wasn’t alone. While I was talking poetry at the Shakespeare Bookshop, I met another of love’s broken casualties. With his husky Gauloises -Brooklyn accent, his lover had hurled his guitar over the edge of Pont Neuf and into the River Seine. Now, all he had left were his poems. Actually, I think he might’ve slept at the Shakespeare and was what they called “a Tumbleweed”. I don’t know.

Anyway, after all these years, you’ve become a destination on a tourist map. Somewhere to say you’ve been. Have a selfie with Jim!  Am I the only one who finds that weird? Then again, as my kids keep reminding me, writing letters to dead poets is weird. Selfies are actually normal but a very strange kind of normal.  I am conspicuously absent from my photos but just you try taking a selfie with an SLR? It’s very hit and miss.

Oh! Perhaps, I should’ve told you that we’ve stopped using phones to call people and now use them as cameras and for sending texts and photos. Indeed, we post photos of ourselves on this place called Facebook saying: “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” You would have loved it! Just think how many friends you would’ve had, although I doubt they would have saved you!

All I can say, is that sometimes we crawl way too deep inside our own darkness . Even when the chips are down, we still need to edge towards the light, without burning up in the flame. Easier said than done.

Actually, I’m wondering where my own head will be after being immersed in this  poetry soup for over a month. You would think all this poetry would be uplifting. However, if that’s the case, why have so many poets flown straight over the edge?

Balance. That’s the key and that’s what I have in my family. These supposedly annoying interruptions to the flow, might actually be bringing my feet back down to earth and keeping me grounded. Right now that includes dealing with a crazy mutt who rolled in something dead and is off to the shower. It seems even my interruptions are getting “creative”.

Goodnight Jim. I hope you’re okay.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Patisserie Paris

Happiness in Paris.

This is the latest in my series of Letters to Dead Poets for the April Blogging A-Z Challenge. For a list of previous letters, click here: Alphabet Soup A-H.

What a Wonderful World!

What absolute impertinence! Just who does she think she is? A virtuoso?

There I was performing What A Wonderful World with virtuoso violinist Ian Cooper and for a few brief moments, the world really was wonderful.

Wonderful but I must confess that I was actually playing along to a CD. Moreover, I could only manage a couple of very precious notes. That didn’t matter. I was in seventh heaven. I might have been a legend in my own lunchbox but I didn’t care. I was living the dream, even if I was only nibbling away at the very edges of the crust.

You see, even playing these few, very precious notes was a real turning point for me.

My violin and I have been experiencing something of a lover’s tiff lately. I had been practicing so hard and yet I just kept making mistakes. I wasn’t getting anywhere and to make matters worse, everyone around me was really flourishing and it felt like I was rapidly being left behind. My teacher has been very encouraging and I’ve looked back to appreciate how far I’ve come but there’s still been that frustration. That sinking sense of despair.

Last year, I was really encouraged by the idea that it took 10,000 hours of practice to become a concert violinist. That if I do indeed practice, practice, practice, I’ll eventually get there even if I’m in a nursing home by that point.

However, the way I’ve been playing lately, I’ve been starting to wonder whether the magic 10,000 hours of practice would actually make any difference. Am I going to be stuck at this point forever never getting any better?

Soon, I found myself accelerating down that dreadful, downward spiral.

“I’m hopeless. Can’t do it! What a loser! Perhaps, I just don’t have what it takes.”

We can’t be good at everything. Yet, when I started playing the violin, I thought I’d found a missing part of myself. That there was a violin buried somewhere deep inside my heart, within my soul. We were bound together, inter-connected…one.

An unlikely duo...the Troll and Smurf Ensemble.

An unlikely duo…the Troll and Smurf Ensemble.

This etching appeared in the London Illustrated News January 6, 1883.

This etching appeared in the London Illustrated News January 6, 1883.

I love my violin so much that I’ve even been buying what I call “violin miscellania” on eBay. I’ve managed to find a smurf and even a little troll who are playing the violin. I’ve also bought some ornate 19th century etchings.

Moreover, I’ve photographed my violin and I even had Geoff take photos of me playing my violin  (actually pretending to play) in front of the Byron Bay Lighthouse. I looked quite the professional although I was a bundle of paralyzed nerves when someone asked me if I was going to play.

Playing my violin at the Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay

Playing my violin at the Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay

As you can see, I love my violin!!

So if I am that passionate about the violin, how could I ever let it go? Give it up without a fight? Surely, I couldn’t get it that sense of connection wrong but now it was starting to strain, rip and tear, I wasn’t so sure. It takes two to tango and as much as I loved my violin, I wasn’t too sure about its feelings for me. I was getting a lot of mixed, if not downright negative signals and I could feel the relationship straining. We were ripping and tearing apart.

After all my hard work and many, many hours of practice and all the love that I’d poured into that ungrateful instrument, was this it? Was it over? Were we actually breaking up?

I simply wasn’t good enough.

Surely, not?!! I still had a bit of fight left. If only I tried a little bit harder, I could get there.

I persevered and I persevered but there was no big breakthrough.

Actually, it’s all been rather heartbreaking. I might be a grown up and all but I still just wanted to cry.

I know learning the violin isn’t like cooking 2 minute noodles. You just can’t add water. Chuck it in the microwave. Hey presto! You’re up on stage at the Sydney Opera House. Besides, water and microwaves do very nasty things to unsuspecting violins…almost as good as a match.

Yes, I know it takes at least 10,000 hours of practice to succeed. I also understand that the violin is a notoriously difficult instrument to learn, particularly at first.

Yet, that doesn’t help.

It is soul destroying when my violin squeaks like a mouse being strangled. I hate it when I keep bumping strings, playing two strings at once. Worse still, it drives me completely nuts when I’m trying to play two strings at once doing double stops and I can’t do it. Why is it that when I want to play two strings, I can only play one and when I want to play one I seem to play two? This instrument is doing my head in.

I must also confess that I haven’t quite been keeping up with my practice lately. Last year, I was routinely practising for about an hour a day (You have to practice hard when you pick up an instrument at 42 instead of age 4. That’s many, many hours of practice I have to catch up on!!) Yet, it just hasn’t been coming together and I must confess that I’ve been watching The Voice lately and have been just a little distracted.

So I confess. Yes, I haven’t been practice, practice, practicing after all. I’ve slacked off.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

Perhaps, that could indeed explain my stagnation.

Anyway, on Sunday my daughter and I went to a fabulous local concert featuring concert pianist Simon Tedeschi and virtuoso violinist Ian Cooper. I thought long and hard before inviting Miss along to the concert. She’s only just turned seven and the concert went for two hours but she loves music and the tickets were very affordable. You see the concert was held at a local nursing home and was part of the Musica Viva series sponsored by Lend Lease. It was also a very relaxed environment for Miss’s first formal concert. Ian Cooper made a captivating host throwing in comical snippets about his musical travels overseas (encounters with gypsies on the continent and meeting a group of Irish fiddlers sinking Guiness and then playing with them in an Irish pub). The elderly lady next to me was singing along not so quietly to some of the Gershwin numbers and my daughter was struggling to get her iPod to work and was reading her rainbow fairy novel towards the end. The audience clapped along at times and there was even a bit of movement in the seats. After all, how can you possibly sit still when you are experiencing such amazing music? No! You have to respond!

It is hard to think about adjectives to describe these magnificent musicians. I am just an incredibly humble, beginner violinist and I learned the piano way too many moons ago. James Morrison, who has to be the undisputed King of Jazz in Australia and beyond, wrote: “Putting Tedeschi and Cooper together is like mixing nitro with glycerine-an explosion of musical virtuosity”. They played an incredible range of music from classical Bach through to jazz, Irish jigs and Gypsy music.  I can’t really comment much on the piano side of things. However, I was watching Ian Cooper very closely, astounded as his fingers danced on the strings performing absolute magic. I have been playing for 18 months now and still find fourth finger challenging. Ian’s fingers moved well up the fingerboard, which for me, is such a long, long way from home. It’s like flying a rocket to the moon when you’re only on your learner’s permit.

I must also say that Ian exceeded all of my wildest expectations when he announced that he wasn’t just going to play 2 strings at once but all four and he pulled his bow apart and wrapped the horsehair around the strings and actually played beautiful music. I was absolutely gobsmacked!!

Anyway, despite my vows of being more frugal, I burst through the door at interval heading for the CD sales. Before I knew it, I was handing over all my spending money for the week and had bought 3 CDs. This is fairly extreme behavior on my part because I only own a handful of CDs but I had to have them. I had to take this performance home and immerse myself in all that lush, beautiful music. Seize the moment forever!

Anyway, there I was on Monday morning listening to Ian Cooper playing What A Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong fame, when I reached for my violin and started to pick out a few notes and played along. A humble beginner, I was now playing with Ian. Well, I have to admit it was only a couple of notes because Ian sort of wove this magic that transformed this piece of music into something I can’t describe.  Suffice to say that it was way too brilliant for this little beginner. All the same, I really did enjoy our “duet”. It was absolutely awesome! A real hoot!! I was definitely laughing on the inside…especially after all my violin battles lately. I felt that maybe…just maybe…my violin was starting to like me again.

Yes, I know I’m dreaming but when you open my violin book…preliminary grade… there is a quote from violinist Yehudi Menuhin:

“To play great music, you must keep your eyes on a distant star.”

Yes, Ian Cooper might be a very distant star. A star in a some far off galaxy. Yet, I’m on my way a few notes at a time and it’s quite okay to be a legend in your own lunchbox after all.

I encourage you to visit Simon Tedeschi’s website www.simontedeschi.com where you can listen to a few teasers and read some of his articles or visit Ian Cooper at www.iancooper.com Better yet, try to see them live in concert together. They really were a sensation!

Yes, it really is a wonderful world.

xx Rowena

1960's melamine pencil lead holder from m violin collection.

1960’s melamine pencil lead holder from my violin collection.