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"The End" is a song by the American rock band The Doors. Its lyrics were written by lead singer Jim Morrison. He originally wrote the song about breaking up with his girlfriend Mary Werbelow,[6] 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 on January 4, 1967.[1] The song was recorded live in the studio with no overdubbing.[7] Two takes were done and it has been held that the second take is the one that was issued.[8] However, it has been speculated that the issued version of the song is an edit of both takes, with at least one splice.[9] 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.

"The End"
Song by The Doors
from the album The Doors
ReleasedJanuary 4, 1967[1]
RecordedAugust 1966
StudioSunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California
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"



In 1969, Morrison stated:

[E]very time I hear that song, it means something else to me. I really don't know what I was trying to say. It just started out as a simple goodbye song...Probably just to a girl, but I could see how it could be 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.[10]

Promotional photo of the Doors in late 1966, a few months after recording “The End” in August

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...[11]

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/he put his boots on..." 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)[12] Morrison had worked on a student production of Oedipus Rex at Florida State University.[13] Ray Manzarek, the former keyboard player of 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![14]

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.[15]

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.[8]

The genesis and the use of the word "fuck" is described by Michael 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.[16]

The Pop Chronicles documentary reports that critics found the song "Sophoclean and Joycean."[12]

"The End" was ranked at number 336 on 2010 Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[13] The song's guitar solo was ranked number 93 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time".[17]


Usage in film and televisionEdit

Hank: Father...
Dr. Venture: Yes, Hank?
Hank: I want to kill you. Molotov! I want to... AHHHH-come on baby!


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 CD version of 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 version 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 versionsEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Album Details". Archived from the original on September 7, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  2. ^ Milligan, Barry (1992). Pleasures and Pains. Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-81393468-0. ISBN 978-0-813-93468-6.
  3. ^ Borgzinner, Jon (August 18, 1967). "How a shy pandit became a pop hero (p. 36)". Vol. 63, No. 7. LIFE. New York City: Time Inc. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  4. ^ Pipes, Rusty (January 2002). "Cosmik Debris Magazine Presents: Part 4 of The Golden Age Of Art Rock". Archived from the original on March 11, 2016. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  5. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (2015). The Doors. The Illustrated History. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press. p. 92. ISBN 1-62788705-9. ISBN 978-1-627-88705-2.
  6. ^ Farley, Robert (September 25, 2005). "Doors: Mary and Jim to the end". St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Florida: Times Publishing Company. Archived from the original on November 7, 2005. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  7. ^ Classic Albums: The Doors. Classic Albums. April 14, 2008.
  8. ^ a b 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 (4 ed.). Edinburgh, Scotland: Canongate Books. p. 75. ISBN 1-84767643-X. ISBN 978-1-847-67643-6.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Hopkins, Jerry (July 26, 1969). "The Rolling Stone Interview: Jim Morrison". Rolling Stone. New York City: Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  11. ^ James, Lizze (1981). "Jim Morrison: Ten Years Gone". Creem Magazine. Detroit, Michigan. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  12. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 43 - Revolt of the Fat Angel: Some samples of the Los Angeles sound [Part 3]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  13. ^ a b Staff (April 7, 2011). "500 Greatest Songs of All Time. 336 | The Doors, 'The End'". Rolling Stone. New York City: Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  14. ^ Fong-Torres, Ben (2006). The Doors. New York City: Hyperion. p. 61. ISBN 1-40130303-X. ISBN 978-1-40130-303-7.
  15. ^ Densmore, John (1990). Riders on the Storm. My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors. New York City: Delacorte Press. p. 88. ISBN 0-38530033-6. ISBN 978-0-385-30033-9.
  16. ^ Hicks, Michael (2000) [1999]. Sixties Rock. Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. pp. 87–88. ISBN 0-25206915-3. ISBN 978-0-252-06915-4.
  17. ^ Staff (October 30, 2008). "100 Greatest Guitar Solos: 51-100". Guitar World. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  18. ^ a b "The Doors – "The End" (from the Apocalypse now Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)" at Discogs. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The Doors - Soundtrack. 'The End'". IMDb. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  20. ^ "Google Groups". Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  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 July 3, 2012.
  23. ^ "Live At The Matrix 1967". Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  24. ^ a b c d e "Music - The Doors". Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  25. ^ "Live At The Bowl '68". Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  26. ^ "Live In New York". Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  27. ^ "Live In Vancouver". Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2018.

External linksEdit