The End (The Doors song)

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"The End"
Song by The Doors from the album The Doors
Released January 4, 1967
Recorded August 1966
Length 11:41 [album version]
6:28 [Apocalypse Now version]
Label Elektra
Writer Jim Morrison
Robby Krieger
Ray Manzarek
John Densmore
Producer The Doors
Paul A. Rothchild
The Doors track listing
  1. "Break On Through (To the Other Side)"
  2. "Soul Kitchen"
  3. "The Crystal Ship"
  4. "Twentieth Century Fox"
  5. "Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)"
  6. "Light My Fire"
  7. "Back Door Man"
  8. "I Looked at You"
  9. "End of the Night"
  10. "Take It as It Comes"
  11. "The End"

"The End" is a song by The Doors, the lyrics of which were written by the lead singer Jim Morrison. He originally wrote the song about breaking up with his girlfriend Mary Werbelow,[5] but it evolved through months of performances at Los Angeles' Whisky a Go Go into a nearly 12-minute track on their self-titled debut album. It was first released in January 1967. The song was recorded live in the studio with no overdubbing.[6] Two takes were done and it has been held that the second take is the one that was issued.[7] However, there is also a view that the issued version of the song was an edit of both takes, with at least one splice.[8] The band would perform the song to close their last live performance as a foursome on December 12, 1970 at the Warehouse in New Orleans.


In 1969, Morrison stated:

Everytime I hear that song, it means something else to me. It started out as a simple good-bye song... Probably just to a girl, but I see how it could be a goodbye to a kind of childhood. I really don't know. I think it's sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to be.[9]

Interviewed by Lizze James, he pointed out the meaning of the verse "My only friend, the End":

Sometimes the pain is too much to examine, or even tolerate... That doesn't make it evil, though – or necessarily dangerous. But 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...[10]

Shortly past the midpoint of the nearly 12-minute long album version, the song enters a spoken word section with the words, "The killer awoke before dawn..." That section of the song reaches a dramatic climax with the lines, "Father / Yes son? / I want to kill you / Mother, I want to..." (with the next words screamed out unintelligibly).[11] Ray Manzarek, the former keyboard player for the Doors, explained:

He was giving voice in a rock 'n' roll setting to the Oedipus complex, at the time a widely discussed tendency in Freudian psychology. He wasn't saying he wanted to do that to his own mom and dad. He was re-enacting a bit of Greek drama. It was theatre![12]

In John Densmore's autobiography Riders on the Storm, he recalls when Morrison explained the meaning:

At one point Jim said to me during the recording session, and he was tearful, and he shouted in the studio, 'Does anybody understand me?' And I said yes, I do, and right then and there we got into a long discussion and Jim just kept saying over and over kill the father, fuck the mother, and essentially boils down to this, kill all those things in yourself which are instilled in you and are not of yourself, they are alien concepts which are not yours, they must die. Fuck the mother is very basic, and it means get back to essence, what is reality, what is, fuck the mother is very basically mother, mother-birth, real, you can touch it, it's nature, it can't lie to you. So what Jim says at the end of the Oedipus section, which is essentially the same thing that the classic says, kill the alien concepts, get back reality, the end of alien concepts, the beginning of personal concepts.[13]

According to Mojo magazine,

Comprehensively wrecked, the singer [Morrison] wound up lying on the floor mumbling the words to his Oedipal nightmare, 'Fuck the mother, kill the father.' Then, suddenly animated, he rose and threw a TV at the control room window. Sent home by (producer Paul A.) Rothchild like a naughty schoolkid, he returned in the middle of the night, broke in, peeled off his clothes, yanked a fire extinguisher from the wall and drenched the studio. Alerted, Rothchild came back and persuaded the naked, foam-flecked Morrison to leave once more, advising the studio owner to charge the damage to Elektra.[7]

The genesis and the use of the word "fuck" is described by Michaël Hicks as follows:

During this period, Morrison brought vocal ideas into the instrumental solo section. Between the organ and guitar solos he approached the microphone and intoned two brief lines from the middle of the song "When the Music's Over": "Persian night, babe / See the light, babe." More strikingly, when the retransition motive began, he held the microphone against his mouth and screamed the word "fuck" repeatedly, in rhythm, for three measures or more (the barking sound that one hears during this passage on most live recordings). This was probably not a spontaneous vulgarism, but rather, a kind of quotation from another Doors song, "The End." Paul Rothchild explains that in the Oedipal section of the studio recording of "The End," Morrison shouted the word "fuck" over and over "as a rhythm instrument, which is what we intended it to be." That "rhythm instrument" was buried in the studio mix of "The End." Now, forcefully superimposed on "Light My Fire", it shocked many a fan who had come to hear the group's most famous song.[14]

The Pop Chronicles documentary reports that critics found the song "Sophoclean and Joycean."[11]

"The End" was ranked at number 336 on 2010 Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[15] The song's guitar solo was ranked number 93 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time".[16] However, the song was also ranked at 26 in Blender's list of the "50 Worst Songs Ever".[17]


Usage in film and television


While the 1967 release of the song is the best-known version, there are other, slightly different versions available.

  • A significantly shorter edit, sometimes erroneously referred to as a "single version", was released on the Greatest Hits album. The edited version is almost half the length of the original.[21]
  • The version used in Francis Ford Coppola's film Apocalypse Now is different from the 1967 release, being a remix specifically made for the movie.[18] The remixed versions emphasizes the vocal track at the final crescendo, highlighting Morrison's liberal use of scat and expletives. The vocal track can partly be heard in the 1967 release, although the expletives are effectively buried in the mix (and the scat-singing only faintly audible), and Morrison can only be heard clearly at the end of the crescendo with his repeated line of "Kill! Kill!". This version originated with the original master copy from Elektra's tape vaults; when Walter Murch, the Sound Designer, requested copies of the song from Elektra Records for use in the film, the studio unknowingly sent him the original master tracks to use, which explains the different (some would say better) sonic quality of the song used in the film.
  • German dance music band Tube Tech made a tech-house version of this song in 2003.
  • A new 5.1 mix was issued with the 2006 box set Perception. The new 5.1 mix has more sonic details than the original 1967 mix.
  • While it is officially recognized that the 1967 version is an edit consisting of two different takes recorded on two straight days[22]—the splice being right before the line "The killer awoke before dawn", and easily pinpointed by cut cymbals—the full takes, or the edited parts, have yet to surface.
  • In the version recorded live in Madison Square Garden, the lyric "Mother, I want to fuck you" can be heard clearly, instead of the unintelligible screaming of the studio version.

Live versions


On the horizonal line at the end of tracks on any user's account on SoundCloud, hovering over the SoundCloud logo will show a message, "This is the end... my only friend, the end".

Explanatory notes

^ a: In one of his Vietnam War poems, William Caughly mentions a "blue bus" in relation to the military draft: "But when they called (the draft board), I answered./ NO Vietnam for me/ NO blue bus./ And I knew they'd never use the nukes./ Right?/ They just never got the chance./ Day before I leave for basic training, anti-war rally in Los Angeles,/ in front of the Century Plaza Hotel ...").[23]

  1. Milligan (1992). Pleasures and Pains. University of Virginia Press. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-8139-3468-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Borgzinner, Jon (18 August 1967). "How a shy pandit became a pop hero". LIFE. 63 (7). Time Inc. p. 36. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved 30 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Gillian G. Gaar (25 April 2015). The Doors: The Illustrated History. Voyageur Press. pp. 92–. ISBN 978-1-62788-705-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Farley, Robert (25 September 2005). "Doors: Mary and Jim to the end". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 3 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Classic Albums: The Doors. Classic Albums. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Various Mojo Magazine (2007). Irvin, Jim; Alexander, Phil, eds. The Mojo collection: the ultimate music companion; brought to you by the makers of Mojo magazine (4th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 75. ISBN 1-84767643-X. ISBN 978-1-84767-643-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Hopkins, Jerry (2007). Wenner, Jann; Levy, Joe, eds. The Rolling Stone Interviews (Jim Morrison). New York: Back Bay Books. p. 496. ISBN 0-31600526-6. ISBN 978-0-31600-526-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. James, Lizze (1981). "Jim Morrison: Ten Years Gone". Detroit: Creem Magazine. Retrieved 8 November 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 Show 43 - Revolt of the Fat Angel: Some samples of the Los Angeles sound [Part 3] : UNT Digital Library
  12. The Doors; Fong-Torres, Ben (2006). The Doors. New York: Hyperion. p. 61. ISBN 1-40130303-X. ISBN 978-1-40130-303-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Densmore, John (2009). Riders on the Storm. My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors. New York: Random House. p. 88. ISBN 0-30742902-4. ISBN 978-0-30742-902-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Hicks, Michaël (1999). Sixties Rock. Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 87–88. ISBN 0-25202427-3. ISBN 978-0-25202-427-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Staff (2010). "500 Greatest Songs of All Time. 336 | The Doors, 'The End'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Staff (30 October 2008). "100 Greatest Guitar Solos: 51-100". Guitar World. Retrieved 20 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 "The Doors – "The End" (from the Apocalypse now Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)" at Discogs. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 19.7 "The Doors - Soundtrack. 'The End'". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 8 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "The Venture Bros. Season 2 Episode 3 – Assassinanny 911". 26 April 2011. Retrieved 16 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "The Doors – "The End" (from the Greatest Hits album)" at Discogs. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  22. "Making of The Doors: The Recording Sessions". Waiting for the Sun Archives. Retrieved 3 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Caughey, William (15 May 1997). Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, ed. "Just Another War Story". Retrieved 3 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links