“People fear death even more than pain. It’s strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over. Yeah, I guess it is a friend“—Jim Morrison
Perhaps no lead singer has caught the imagination of music fans across the globe as The Door’s Jim Morrison. The handsome, stylish and mercurial frontman was the driving force that launched the band to stardom.
No one came close to Morrison’s poetic writing style. His enigmatic and beautifully constructed lyrics quickly set him apart from his peers. It didn’t take long for The Doors to get noticed. The band’s meteoric rise was a double edged sword. Their success triggered a chain reaction in Jim Morrison that would put him on a path towards destruction. His hard living and partying lifestyle was legendary.
It all caught up with him in 1971. Morrison died at age 27, which only fed into his mystique. His untimely death broke up the band and cemented his legacy as a young man forever in his prime; it also helped propel the 27 Club myth.
AXS contributor Sam McPherson once wrote, “The Doors may be history…but they always live on in our hearts, minds and souls.” That’s true for Jim Morrison. In life, Morrison connected with people on a massive scale. Now, decades after his death, he still appeals to people across the generations. His grave site is a top tourist destination that draws crowds of all ages.
Jim Morrison is buried in Paris, France at the Cimetière du Père Lachaise, the Cemetery of Paris. It’s a gothic cemetery that holds some of the greatest poets, composers and philosophers to have ever lived, such as Frederic Chopin and Oscar Wilde.
Morrison’s plot is tightly placed between several graves and slightly obscured from the walkway. A good indication you’re in the right location is the metal barricades that can be seen running between several moseleums and ornate monuments. Long before you see Morrison’s headstone, a sliver of ground colorfully decorated with flowers, candles and photos gives away the Lizard King’s grave.
The headstone is pretty basic. It’s a bronze plaque encased in concrete. It reads “James Douglas Morrison” and gives his year of birth and death, “1943-1971.” At the bottom of the plaque underneath the life dates, the Latin phrase “Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy” is written. Its meaning has become a source of controversy. Much of the confusion is due to translation issues.
George Morrison, Jim’s father, wrote the epitaph. It was put on the headstone to honor his son. A direct translation of the Latin phrase (using Google Translate) returns: Against the Demon within thyself. Loosely referring to “fighting his own demon.” Its translation has caused some wild theories. Some people believe George Morrison was subtly revealing his disapproval of Jim’s life, while others think Mr. Morrison was blatantly disrespecting his son’s memory. An even more sinister theory alleges that Jim Morrison was possessed by demons (as some people argue).
Research reveals that the senior Morrison’s intent was something along the lines of “faithful to his own spirit.” After much consideration, A Crow’s View believes the epithet’s inscription is innocuous without any hidden message. Basically, the epithet means “true to himself,” once the nuances of translation are boiled away. However like all things Morrison, the Latin phrase has an element of mystery to it.
The “Tombe de Jim Morrison” is vastly different than any monument or memorial anywhere in the world. Most monuments invoke solemn contemplation. This site does more than that. It gives visitors a sense of loss as to what could have been. If Jim Morrison hadn’t died so young, what would’ve happened? The world will never know what genius he would have created, or whether the troubled rock star would’ve simple faded into obscurity. Contemplating those outcomes are part of the powerful experience of Morrison’s Tomb.
The darker flip side of visiting the grave is its affect on people. The site sparks a desire to imbibe alcohol or take part in other vices in its presence. It’s common to see people spend a lot of time around Morrison’s headstone. Many will be drinking, smoking and listening to music. In fact, some visitors will even pour Jim a drink. Others visitors will respectfully pose for a selfie or take a snap shot and move on. Either way, Morrison’s grave is a powerful site that elicits a broad range of emotional responses, more so than any other monument or grave you will visit.
A Crow’s View recommends visiting this site. If you’re a fan of The Doors or Rock and Roll in general, then this is a must see attraction when in Paris.
Sadly vandalism and graffiti are part of “Tombe de Jim Morrison’s” history. Please remember to be respectful of the graves in the immediate vicinity of Morrison’s burial site and the cemetery as a whole. It is a solemn place that should be respected.