Publié sur launch.yahoo.com, 17 avril 2002
Entrevue réalisée par Pamela Des Barres
I was one of the lucky hippie-dolls who got to see the Doors play dozens of times. In fact, they were the house band at my second home, the Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip, where I saw the Lizard King shred the place on many different occasions. I even made out with him a couple of times! (Hey, it was the '60s.) The Doors' groovy blonde keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, created the sound for those divine few Summers Of Love, filling the air with infinitesimal possibilities; I still feel stoned out of my skull whenever I hear the intro to "Light My Fire."
I saw Jim Morrison stagger down the Strip and slowly succumb to his demons (drugs, but mainly alcohol), and then one day he upped and went to France. I hoped he might finally pull himself together near the fine ghosts of Oscar Wilde, but he wound up lying next to them at the Père LaChaise Cemetery instead. However, nobody wanted to accept that Jim was really gone. An entire passel of people insisted he had never died at all, preferring to believe that he had faked his death and was living on a desert island somewhere, eating mangoes and smoking copious amounts of weed.
Now it's three decades later, and Ray Manzarek has invited me to his lovely Beverly Hills pad to discuss his swell new book, Poet In Exile, a fanciful, spiritual tome in which he addresses the "is Jim alive?" issue with his usual upbeat aplomb. We relax in the elegant living room and chit-chat about the good old daze...
How did you feel when the rumors about Jim being alive started?
Ray Manzarek : I thought it was so bizarre the first time I heard the rumor. That's the deep human need for a dying and resurrecting god. Not that Jim Morrison was a god, but the human impulse for resurrecting the dead--Osiris from the Egyptian, Dionysus from the Greeks, Jesus from Christianity. So it's been 2,000 years since somebody's done that dying-and-resurrecting-god routine. Elvis and Jim are doing that.
It seems people are always looking for some kind of god outsidethemselves.
Ray Manzarek : Yes, that's the problem with Christianity--we've projected everything outside of ourselves, and God is "other" and at a distance. Like that song, "God is watching us from a distance..." What is that all about? Who wrote that?
Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is within you."
Ray Manzarek : "I and the Father are One--what I am, so you can become." Christianity is certainly not the religion of Jesus Christ, which was about love. He's the original love-nut. Love they neighbor as thyself, love, love, love...that's what it was all about.
You can't love your neighbor until you love yourself.
Ray Manzarek : Good point.
Your new book is chock-a-block with Truths with a capital T.
Ray Manzarek : The dying and resurrecting Morrison is at it again! I wrote the book for all the people saying, "He's alive, he's alive, he's alive," and I've been denying it. So I said, "I'm not denying it anymore--he's alive!" Now, the important thing is not that he's alive, but what became of him? What did he do for the next 30 years? My hope is that the journey the poet goes through in the book is what Jim would have ultimately gone through in one fashion or another.
It's cool that you take him to India and he winds up on a desert island!
Ray Manzarek : I thought, "Let's make it entertaining, let's take him somewhere." And he says it in the book, "If enlightenment can happen to me, this drunken jerk a--hole, it can happen to anybody!" And that's his message for the new millennium, the new times, the new age--the message the keyboard player wants to bring back with the poet to start the band up again.
You sure gave him the benefit of the doubt.
Ray Manzarek : I actually had the term "New Age" in there, and the publisher said, "We can't use it, because it will be a New Age book." What difference does it make? It's coming, man, you cannot stop the new age--the Aquarian Age. I've been waiting since the '60s.
Me too! Do you really think earth can be a Garden Of Eden again?
Ray Manzarek : Absolutely. The Garden Of Eden is still here. We haven't been expelled from the Garden; the veil of Maya has been put over our eyes and we can't see the Garden Of Eden for the Garden Of Eden! Once we open our hearts, we'll say, "Oh my God, this is the Garden Of Eden, let's start planting as many plants as we can, and stop cutting the trees down!" People ask me, "Ray, what can I do?" First of all, every woman has to plant one tree in their lifetime. The guys have to throw their guns away. That's all you have to do. Very simple.
Those ideals remind me of how hopeful we felt in the Summer Of Love days.
Ray Manzarek : That's what the hippie movement was all about" "We can actually have love-ins and psychedelic rock concerts, and guess what, if we want to smoke a little pot, we can smoke a little pot. Nobody's gonna tell me what to do with my body as long as I'm not out there killing, stealing, robbing. What do you care what I put into my body, especially a little marijuana? What, are you insane?"
What about psychedelics?
Ray Manzarek : When the government realized that LSD would really part the veil--youcould see that the Wizard of Oz was really "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"...my God, that's the government, that's the Pope, that's my teacher, that's my mom and dad, that's every stupid organized religion! That's why they stopped LSD, because you could see behind the curtain. We've opened the doors, to show ensuing generations what the possibilities are. The kids are gonna have to take it into the 21st century.
How do you propose they do that?
Ray Manzarek : They will have to go after the administration that's in power now. "We hold these truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal"--and natural food is better for you that processed food and solar power is better than burning fossil fuel and oil.
It's pretty uptight nowadays, Ray. We came from an era where we said, "Let's f--k!" We released a lot of energy for people.
Ray Manzarek : Sex is designed to be incredibly good. There's nothing that feels better. We're designed so that those two parts fit together: "You mean that thing goes in there? Wow!" What is a better feeling than two naked bodies entwined? Flesh is holy, so divinely holy and delicious.
I couldn't agree more. Did the Doors feel they were opening the doors of perception for people?
Ray Manzarek : We knew we were up against an establishment that wanted to keep everything closed. For instance, when the Doors played The Ed Sullivan Show, we weren't allowed to say the word "higher" on national television. We, of course, did it anyway. One of Ed's minions said to us, "Ed wanted you for six more performances--you know what that would have meant to your career? You'll never work The Ed Sullivan Show ever again!" And Jim looked at him and said, "So what? We just DID The Ed Sullivan Show. Don't you get it?"
It was so sad when all our peace-and-love love dreams came thundering down... Charles Manson, Altamont...
Ray Manzarek : At Kent State, we realized they will shoot us down on a college campus. Four people dead, 30 kids got hit. That's a lot of bullets. The National Guard started shooting like crazy men, the way the white man used to shoot the buffalo. The peace symbol was called the "footprint of the American chicken."
Ray Manzarek : By construction workers and all right wingers--all "real Americans." You were on one side or the other when it came to the war on Vietnam, and the other side won. They lost the war, of course. Love-nuts are still all looked down upon.
I'll always be a total love-nut.
Ray Manzarek : It feels awful good! So anyway, that's why I wrote Poet In Exile! To take a charismatic figure like Jim Morrison, or very much like Jim Morrison, and put words into his mouth that he didn't have the chance to utter when he was alive on the planet. Although he believed all those things. He was very shamanistic, very American Indian, very natural, very spiritual, in terms of vibration and energy.
So why did he succumb?
Ray Manzarek : He succumbed to two things: the evils of fame, which carries with it theseeds of its own destruction, the indulgence of fame. The lead singer gets all the indulgences: "You're the lead singer of the Doors? Anything, what do you want? Pills? Girls? Grass? Drink? C'mon, just be with us, we'll give you anything!" And the penchant to drink was there. He didn't know how far he could go before it would kill him. Rimbaud said, "Through the disorder of the senses, you attain the palace of wisdom." Jim had attained the palace of wisdom and continued to disorder his senses. That's the sad part. He wasn't able to laugh at 27. Poor Janis, poor Jimi, Kurt Cobain, 27, Brian Jones...all 27. That's the transition from youth to adult, and a lot of 'em just couldn't make it. They just couldn't leave the wildness and the freedom of youth to take on that sense of responsibility.
Do you still believe that music can heal?
Ray Manzarek : It comes from the heart chakra; the heart is on fire. When music's really happening, the vibrations go right into the heart. It blesses your heart with love and joy--come on, baby, light my fire! Light some fire into your heart! You become a burning human being on the planet, filled with energy and love and excitement and sex! The music is pounding in your head and the words are translating themselves into universal imagery that you can understand. Your heart is just beating in harmony with other people, going out into the night, free of all your problems.
And you still have high hopes for the kids today?
Ray Manzarek : Those kids are taking something called Ecstasy. I don't know exactly what it is, I've never had it. It's a nice little love drug, a little stimulant--not LSD or mushrooms, but they have a grand time doing it, and they're in love with each other. They don't want rage-rock, they want a good, pulsating techno-rock, operating at double the speed of the heart--120, 130 beats per minute--pumping, pumping, pumping. It's not over with: The trance dancers are still out there, waiting for the change to come.