Why The World Needs More Old Boxed Doors

ATN correspondent (and Toronto Star reporter Peter Howell reports:

People just won't stop digging up Jim Morrison's grave. But don't blame the

surviving members of the Doors, his legendary '60s rock band, even though

they're rattling his bones by issuing yet another Doors greatest hits

collection.

The real grave robbers are the authorities at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in

Paris, where the Mojo Man was interred in July, 1971, for what was to have

been his final resting place. He's being evicted as of July, 2001, because

of complaints that his obsessive fans are disturbing the other dead.

"The lease is up!" Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek yells, while in Toronto

recently to promote The Doors' Greatest Hits.

"They're saying to him, `Jim, your lease is up, you're outta here! We're not

renewing your lease, you troublemaker!' The guy is making trouble, lying

there, quietly passing time, 'doing time in the universal mine,' to quote a

Doors song. And they're going to take him out of Paris. It's totally

insane."

A mixed laugh of anger, astonishment and huge amusement issues from the

fiftysomething Manzarek, who's on the road with the fortysomething Danny

Sugarman, the band's publicist and biographer (No One Here Gets Out

Alive). They're both attempting to explain why the world needs more old

Doors. They argue it has everything to do with why the families of

Morrison's surrounding tombmates want the rocker rolled out of Pere Lachaise,

when his 30-year grave lease expires in 2001.

Ever since Morrison's alcohol-choked heart stopped beating in a Paris hotel

bathtub (or didn't, if you believe the "Jim's still alive" theories), his

fans have trekked to Paris for a non-stop posthumous party with him. And they

tend to make noise and leave litter and graffiti.

"It's amazing, isn't it?" says the spike-haired Manzarek, who along with

fellow Doors survivors Robby Krieger and John Densmore have had to come to

grips with Morrison's immortal image. "Next year it will be 25 years since

Jim died. The fact that he's still looked upon as a viable entity in the

lives of young people is a testimony to his artistry."

It's been almost a quarter century since the Doors first began putting out

studio and live compilations of their work. There's a boxed set in the works

for next year, including several never-released songs and alternate takes,

and the band has grown used to criticism that it is flogging a dead horse.

It's a profitable dead horse, though, and the band was also an early advocate

of adding new music to tapes left behind by departed members. The Doors

created the 1978 album An American Prayer out of the left-behind

poetry readings of Morrison; it was a big seller that finally saw its CD

release earlier this year. One of the songs from it, "The Ghost Song," is on

the new Greatest Hits album.

The new single-CD collection has been culled from a previous two-CD

Greatest Hits to appeal primarily to teenage Doors fans, who want to

check out the band but don't have the cash yet for a major album investment.

"It seems to happen to every generation," Manzarek says. "Kids always find

something in Jim. You hit 17, maybe ages 14 to 17, and you find in Morrison

a kindred soul, a kindred spirit, some guy who is actually talking to you.

Trying to find out, what's it all about? What's life all about? That's

what Morrison is talking about to the kids. They understand his alienation,

but they also understand his hope for a better future."

One of the reasons why the Doors' mystique continues for succeeding

generations of rock fans is because Morrison is as timeless as his music.

He's still the youthful, sexy rocker with a head full of questions and a

penchant for getting himself in trouble.

Morrison will be making one last road trip to an undisclosed destination, if

the Paris cemetery authorities have their way. Manzarek says the removal

plans can't be changed, because plots in Pere Lachais are leased, not sold.

"He will rise again!" Manzarek says. "It's like Moby Dick or something, for

God's sake. It's like Captain Ahab screaming at the whale, 'She is risen!'

and out comes the great white whale.

"And God knows what is going to come out of that ground, man," he continues.

"Is there a casket in there? Is there a body? Are they going to open the

casket? I mean, it's morbid beyond belief."

But wouldn't Morrison, knowing his love of the weird, find it all just a

little bit amusing? "Of course he would!" Manzarek roars.