Elliott Murphy

Signs Of Summer On A TGV

Elliott Murphy
Photo by Richard Schroeder

Hello ... Aqua-blue seas somewhere off the cote d'azur in the south of France, lounging on a beach chair sipping an iced Coke Zero, wondering if its time for a dip in the sparkling Mediterranean bathtub or should I order a heaping plate of peeled shrimp or a club sandwich. Better yet, continue to stare behind my Ray-Bans at the mini-kini clad delicious duo lying topless on the blanket next to me. Perhaps they need my tanning advice ... Wake up Elliott!

Sleeping on a train, just approaching Paris and I bet I was talking with myself again, like a pair of socks arguing with each other. In fact, I was still enchanted by Jim Morrison's leather-clad, Adonis-like, Nijinsky-fueled stage jumps from which he never recovered. Do go see Tom DiCillo's fine documentary Strange Days, a wholesome journey into a brilliant lost soul. I saw the film in Paris, which was ironic as that's where Jim was laid to rest. Doors drummer John Densmore came to introduce the film and received a standing ovations that went on for quite a while. He let us in on a nice Jim anecdote but I was surprised he didn't mention Paris, because after all this is really where the band broke up ... forever. Johnny Depp narrates the film, and, I for one say ... thanks.

Didn't I write a lyric saying I could hold you for thousand years ... or was that David Bowie? But no, I'm sorry I couldn't, five minutes max before a cramp arose and dug in like a spike. Now, I must remember to tell my body I love it every day, for carrying me along all these years, supporting my whims and dares, pushing me forward in times of anxiety and stress and even managing to help me relax sometimes, like now, when I'm sitting on a train as the reedy green ramparts whiz by. I see abandoned cars and the back end of factories and sometimes-beautiful spring blossoms of pink and white. Five dozen summers and yet I remember only a handful if that, but the promise is always there, when I put away my heavy coat for another season and happily rush into T-shirt weather. And that's the problem; where do I put my wallet? My keys? My telephone? My pen? My notebook? My life?

I suffered summer heartbreaks and endured summer breakdowns. I'm addicted to air-conditioning and ice-cream. It was my summers that made me the man I am today. How can I explain that? Elocution fails me now in the most poignant moments when I can find myself slurring and stammering and not just for effect. But critics tell me my singing has gotten better, thank God, and I do believe that I sound more like me then ever before. But that was inevitable, I suppose. What else can explain how Jim Morrison's vocals on La Woman, his penultimate album, are among his finest. Mr Mojo Rising - did you know that was an anagram for Jim Morison? Try Other Multiply ...

Down the aisle I hear what can only be me, me, me crying out loud, a year old baby boy hitched up high to this mother's chest, one arm hooked to her neck like a lifeline. He stares straight-ahead at me, unafraid and ambitious, as he is walked down the aisle. His first summer is just beginning and his hair as fine as breath. It's the courage of babies that forces me to smile, knowingly. Don't explain, don't complain I want to tell him. Why do we find new life so delicious and old age so sad? I'm somewhere in the middle I suppose, twice past the point where Jim Morrison got off too soon while driving down your freeway.

How could that baby know more then my own mother, her past the eighty mark, him not even crawling. I think I had a flashback of 2001 there for a moment. Morrison and Kubrick, there's a pair who obviously could have worked together. But there's no system here, no justice, no finality - only time and movement. What are a few light years between high points? They tell me the very seat I'm sitting on now is part of this solar system, a system of stars, the sun calling the shots, and that we are hurtling through the infinite space at a speed I can't contemplate. Me, I only feel the muted vibrations of this high-speed train and I hope we stay on the tracks; my ears register the pressure drop each time we pass under an underpass and in some way I find that exciting and oddly comforting. And I'm a guy who loves roller coasters ... only from a distance.

To be together on this train with a full car of fellow riders is comforting in a way. We are all going somewhere and this, and maybe only this, I share with Jesus Christ and Iggy Pop: I am a passenger. William Blake said something about opening the Doors of Perception making things clear and infinite and just this inspired two LA film students to form a band and light a fire. Is this what it takes? Two hundred years and more to inspire someone to create music Blake himself would never hear. The clear part I dig and can live with and the infinite part I indeed saw once too vividly in the back seat of a Lincoln smoking DMT with The Doors Touch Me blasting on the radio and the stars grew large as diamonds and started falling on me! Oh horrors, I cried, the horrors! But I got over it and then did it again and more before the folly of my own strange days brought me to my knee. The doors of perception had been opened wide or me that night on Long Island in a parking lot behind the 305 Lounge where my band played but not shut correctly and still today whenever I stare into a bright black night sky I still peek into the infinite side of ... things ... and my system can't handle it and wants to shut down. Infinity is like a Solar Eclipse, you can't look at it directly or you're going to get hurt. Go tell Icarus or Jim Morrison and they would understand my cautionary tale, I'm sure.

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