I’ll have a few posts about Paris coming up over the next week. But I’ll start with what turned out to be one of my favourite corners of the French capital. The Pere Lachaise cemetery. It was almost a pilgrimage for me. And for many others. The cemetery hosts a goodly number of folks who have two or three things in common. Most of them were either wealthy of famous. All of them are very dead. Including Jim Morrison, the front man of The Doors.
I remember my introduction to The Doors well. I was a teenager. I’d probably heard Light My Fire on the radio before, but never taken much notice. After all, this was a band who had their fame before I was born. Jim Morrison had taken up permanent residence at Pere Lachaise a full year before I appeared on the scene. I went round a friends house, finding him relaxed in an armchair listening to some music. He was utterly stoned. I joined him. The CD he was listening to was The Doors soundtrack – the Oliver Stone movie was about to be released.
I loved those tracks the first time I heard them. Maybe the smoke helped, but even so, I don’t often develop an instant appreciation for music. His voice is hypnotic. The lyrics clever. The tunes timeless. What remains of the band still kicks ass. I really enjoyed the film as well. And the ending, at Pere Lachaise. I’ve always wanted to go. I finally did.
I smoked a legal cigarette as I took in the surroundings and atmosphere. The scene has been altered a little bit since the film. There’s no bust and the area is closed off by metal barriers a few feet from his resting place. But it is still pretty much the same. I imagine it hasn’t changed an awful lot since 1971, bar a few more entries into the cemetery’s Hall of Fame. Unlike, sadly, the rest of Paris. This is an unspoilt corner of the city that has stayed true to the spirit of the metropolis. The graffiti and chewing gum tree would be vandalism elsewhere, but fit in just right here.