Listen, man. I don’t know how many of you people believe in astrology … yeah, yeah, that’s right, baby. I am a Sagittarius, the most philosophical of all the signs. But anyway, I don’t believe in it. I think it’s a bunch of bullshit myself. But I tell you this, man. I tell you this: I don’t know what’s gonna happen, man, but I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames. All right! ALL RIGHT!
– Jim Morrison
About 15 years ago, I went through a big Jim Morrison phase in my life. I don’t remember exactly what triggered it, but it most likely was the Oliver Stone movie which came out in 1991. I probably watched it on video in my apartment, and decided that I was Jim Morrison.
Although, I always knew I wasn’t Jim Morrison. I wasn’t crazy like Jimbo, I wasn’t dangerous like Mr Mojo Risin’. Yet, I also knew that even if I wasn’t the Lizard King, I, too, could do anything.
So I listened to the Doors, and I read books about the band, and I even read Jim’s poetry. And to show my dedication, I even memorized one.
I didn’t think his poetry was that great. In fact, I thought that anybody, even I, could write poems like that. So the one I could recite by heart was also the shortest poem in “The American Night – writings of Jim Morrison”.
D O Y O U H A V E
do you have
for the guests
yes we do
Still, it all, whatever it was, had an effect on me. It didn’t make me want to wear leather pants but it did actually make me want to write. Not music nor poetry, but just write. And during my first year in Stockholm, sitting at my desk, listening to music in a world of my own, I mostly listened to the Doors, and learned to write.
Most often I sat there and listened to “People are strange”.
People are strange when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone
Well. Later I realized that not all faces were ugly. There was this one, interesting girl.
About nine months into my stay in Sweden, I also reached Step 3 in my culture shock process and turned into an ultra Finn. I read 19th century Finnish literature, studied Helsinki history, and listened to Jean Sibelius’s Valse Triste and Finlandia at home.
On my frequent trips to Finland, I visited Ateneum, the art museum in downtown Helsinki to see Gallen-Kallela’s paintings, and then drove up to Ainola, Sibelius’s old mansion. And every time I drove by the house, which you can barely see from the main road now, I’d think of my mother who always told me that a day before Sibelius died, he had been in his garden when a lone swan had circled around the house, then flown away.
“The bird that had inspired him so much came to say goodbye,” my mother always told me. Turns out the story wasn’t really accurate but that’s how it lives in our family.
“My entire school class was standing by the side of the road as the funeral procession went through the city,” she also always added. Still adds.
Sibelius had always seemed like a family friend to me. When I was just a baby, my parents would take me to the near-by Sibelius park to play. In the family album, one of the famous shots is of me at the Sibelius monument in the Sibelius park.
Also, my mother often reminded me of the fact that “Sibbe” – as she called the man – and I shared a birthday.
And then, just as quickly as my Sibelius phase had come over me, it was gone. I was back with the Doors, but that time, the most played song on my computer wasn’t “People are strange”. It was “Touch Me”.
Come on, come on, come on
Come on now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won’t you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?
Now, I’m gonna love you
Till the heavens stop the rain
I’m gonna love you
Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I
And I took off the headphones, and I spoke with the girl. And she spoke to me so we talked. We talked some more. Then, one night when we were in a small bar around the corner from the office with a few colleagues and friends, I put my hand on her knee. She looked at me to see if I had meant to do that or if it was an accident, and then she decided I had meant to do it.
She let my hand stay there on her knee.
It was Jean Sibelius’s and Jim Morrison’s birthday. And mine.