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Five to One

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"Five to One"
Song by the Doors
from the album Waiting for the Sun
ReleasedJuly 3, 1968
RecordedFebruary–May 1968
Songwriter(s)The Doors
Producer(s)Paul A. Rothchild

"Five to One" is a song by American rock band the Doors, from their 1968 album Waiting for the Sun. The song's lyrics were written by lead singer Jim Morrison, though the songwriting credit identified each member of the Doors as songwriters.[1]



"One of the predecessors to heavy metal."[2]

–Guitarist Robby Krieger

Unlike some of the Doors tracks, "Five to One" was created in the studio.[3] According to music journalist Gillian G. Gaar, the song originated during a session when Morrison asked drummer John Densmore to lay down a 4/4 beat to which he inserted the lyrics.[4] The song is consistently applied at 4/4 time signature,[5] accompanied by a distorted sound of drums and bass.[6]

The tune features a rhythm and blues vibe,[7] and has been considered as an origin of the heavy metal genre.[8] Critic Matthew Greenwald of AllMusic described Robby Krieger's guitar playing as "a menacing, proto-heavy metal", and on "top of that, John Densmore's relentless, almost march-rhythm drums take the song through various sections with a convincing power."[9]



Morrison asserted that the song's lyrics are not political.[2] Part of the song ("Your ballroom days are over, baby/ Night is drawing near/ Shadows of the evening/ crawl across the years"), was seemingly lifted from the 19th-century hymnal and bedtime rhyme "Now the Day Is Over" ("Now the day is over/ Night is drawing nigh/ Shadows of the evening/ Steal across the sky") by Morrison.[10] Similarly, Morrison quoted the "Christian child's prayer" in a live version of "Soul Kitchen" sung in 1969,[11] and also seemingly altered the children's rhyme "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick" to suit part of his poem "Curses, Invocations" in An American Prayer ("Words dissemble/ Words be quick/ Words resemble walking sticks").[12]

Public performances


The song's most famous performance was at the 1969 Miami concert at the Dinner Key Auditorium. Towards the end of the performance, a drunken Morrison declared the audience "idiots" and "slaves". The concert would end with Morrison being accused of "attempting to incite a riot" among the concert goers, resulting in his arrest, and later conviction, for indecent exposure.[2]

During the reunion of the original lineup of the Doors sans Jim Morrison on VH1 Storytellers, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots took up vocals. Before the performance John Densmore said Weiland was one of the few frontmen who could "fill Jim's leather pants". Scott said that "Five to One" was what inspired him to begin a career in rock music.[13] In 2012, Ray Manzarek and Krieger recorded a live version of "Five to One" in the Sunset Strip Music Festival with Marilyn Manson on vocals.[14]



The guitar solo on Pearl Jam's "Alive" was based on Ace Frehley's guitar solo on the Kiss song "She", which was in turn based on Robby Krieger's solo in "Five to One".[15] In 2001, producer Kanye West sampled the song to form the beat of Jay-Z's diss song of Nas and Mobb Deep called "Takeover", also used in the Lordz of Brooklyn song "White Trash".[16] The lyric featured in the track, "No one here gets out alive", was used as the title for the 1980 Morrison biography.[2] Stereogum declared "Five to One" the "best song the band ever recorded",[17] while the British daily newspaper, The Guardian, ranked it fifth on their 2015 respective list.[18]


  1. ^ Waiting for the Sun (liner notes). The Doors. New York City: Elektra Records. 1968. EKS-74024.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Weidman, Richie (October 2011). The Doors FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Kings of Acid Rock. Backbeat Books. p. 193. ISBN 978-1617131103.
  3. ^ Kielty, Martin (September 7, 2018). "Robby Krieger Recalls Doors' Battle with Waiting for the Sun". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  4. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (2015). The Doors: The Illustrated History. Voyageur Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-1627887052.
  5. ^ "Digital Sheet Music – The Doors – 'Five to One'". Musicnotes.com. Sony/ATV Music Publishing. 15 February 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  6. ^ Botnick, Bruce. "Introduction by original Doors engineer-producer". Waiting for the Sun (CD booklet). Rhino Records. p. 4.
  7. ^ Miller, Jim (September 28, 1968). "Waiting for the Sun – Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  8. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (April 18, 2007). "The Doors: Waiting for the Sun". Slant Magazine. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  9. ^ Greenwald, Matthew. "The Doors: 'Five to One' – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  10. ^ "Now the Day is Over". Encyclopedia Titanica. October 12, 2005. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
  11. ^ "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep". July 7, 2010. Archived from the original on July 7, 2010. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  12. ^ "An American Prayer Lyrics". Morrison.com. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  13. ^ "STPs Weiland Talks Doors Influence". MTV. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  14. ^ Chan, Anna (August 21, 2012). "Marilyn Manson sings 'People Are Strange' with The Doors". NBC News. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  15. ^ Gilbert, Jeff (May 1995). "Prime Cuts: Mike McCready - The Best of Pearl Jam!". Guitar School.
  16. ^ Coulehan, Erin. "Jay Z Wrote Letter to the Doors' John Densmore". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  17. ^ Nelson, Michael; Leas, Ryan (July 29, 2015). "The Doors Albums From Worst To Best". Stereogum. Retrieved August 1, 2022.
  18. ^ Simpson, Dave (June 17, 2015). "The Doors: 10 of the Best". The Guardian. Retrieved February 15, 2021.