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Green Door

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"The Green Door"
Single by Jim Lowe with the High Fives
from the album Songs They Sing Behind the Green Door
B-side"(The Story of) the Little Man in Chinatown"
ReleasedAugust 1956
Songwriter(s)Bob Davie, Marvin J. Moore
Jim Lowe singles chronology
"Blue Suede Shoes"
"The Green Door" "Prince Of Peace"

"The Green Door" (or "Green Door") is a 1956 popular song, with music composed by Bob "Hutch" Davie and lyrics by Marvin J. Moore. It was first recorded by Jim Lowe, which reached number one on the US chart in 1956. The song has been covered by a number of artists, including a version by Shakin' Stevens in 1981.

Jim Lowe version[edit]

The song was first recorded by Jim Lowe, whose version reached number one on the US pop chart. The lyrics describe the allure of a mysterious private club with a green door, behind which "a happy crowd" play piano, smoke and "laugh a lot", and inside which the singer is not allowed. "Green Door" was backed by the orchestra of songwriter Davie, with Davie also playing piano, and by the vocal group the High Fives. The track was arranged by Davie, who added thumbtacks to the hammers of his piano and sped up the tape to give a honky-tonk sound.[1] Released by Dot Records, the single reached #1 on the Billboard charts for one week on November 17, 1956, replacing "Love Me Tender" by Elvis Presley.[2] Outside the US, Lowe's version reached #8 on the charts in the United Kingdom.[3]


Chart (1956) Peak
UK Singles (OCC)[3] 8
US Best Sellers in Stores (Billboard)[2] 1
US Rhythm & Blues Records (Billboard)[2] 5
US Cash Box Best Selling Singles[4] 2
US Cash Box Rhythm & Blues Top 20[5] 12


The singer cannot get any sleep each evening, due to the sound of the music coming from a private club, or possibly the singer is a G-man attempting to infiltrate the club. He tries to gain entry by knocking once on the green door, telling the person behind the door that he has been there before, only to have the door slammed immediately ("hospitality's thin there"). Then, through the keyhole, he says the possible secret password, "Joe sent me" (the password for Hernando's Hideaway), which only results in laughter as he is again denied admission to the club.

Possible inspirations[edit]

After the Great Chicago Fire, the Green Door Tavern opened in the city. During the Prohibition era in the United States, it was a popular place to get illicit libations. Because the door of the tavern was green, the color became a symbol for a speakeasy. During Prohibition, many restaurants painted their doors green to indicate the presence of a speakeasy.[6]

Another suggestion about the song's origins is that it was inspired by an afterhours club in Dallas, Texas, to which lyricist Moore had been refused entry because he did not know the correct password.[1]

At the time of the song's initial popularity in the 1950s, many believed it was inspired by a green-doored restaurant and bar called The Shack in Columbia, Missouri, where singer Jim Lowe had attended university. However long-time Shack owner Joe Franke doubts that theory.[7]

An oft-repeated urban legend has developed, claiming that the song refers to London's first lesbian club, Gateways (1930–1985), which was in Bramerton Street, Chelsea. It had a green door and was featured in the film The Killing of Sister George.[8][9] But aside from that there is no substantive connection between the 1950s American song and the British club.[10]

Shakin' Stevens version[edit]

"Green Door"
Single by Shakin' Stevens
from the album Shaky
B-side"Don't Turn Your Back"
Released17 July 1981 (1981-07-17)
StudioEden Studios, London
GenreRock and roll
Producer(s)Stuart Colman
Shakin' Stevens singles chronology
"You Drive Me Crazy"
"Green Door"
"It's Raining"

Welsh singer Shakin' Stevens covered the song in 1981 for his album Shaky. It became his second UK number 1, topping the charts for four weeks in August 1981.[11]


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[12] 8
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[13] 8
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[14] 7
Denmark (Hitlisten)[15] 1
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[16] 8
Germany (Official German Charts)[17] 6
Ireland (IRMA)[18] 1
Israel (IBA)[19] 3
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[20] 5
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[21] 8
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[22] 2
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[23] 4
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[24] 5
UK Singles (OCC)[11] 1
Zimbabwe (ZIMA)[25] 5

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1981) Position
Belgium (Ultratop Flanders)[26] 82
Denmark (Hitlisten)[15] 21
Germany (GfK Entertainment)[27] 62
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[28] 57
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[29] 84
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[30] 18
UK Singles[31] 18

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[32] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[33] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Other recordings[edit]

Cultural impact[edit]

"The Green Door" is the name of a letter written by David Berg, the former leader of the cult once called the Children of God, later renamed The Family. He used it as a metaphorical door to hell.[39]

Behind the Green Door is a 1972 pornographic film starring Marilyn Chambers. In 1986, Behind the Green Door: the Sequel was released, and in 2012, New Behind the Green Door was released.

There are bars, taverns and saloons named The Green Door in many American locations, including Cheyenne, Wyoming, New York City, Park Hall, Maryland, Chicago, Illinois and Lansing, Michigan.

Within the American intelligence community, "green door" is a slang verb and adjective, relating to the restriction of an individual's or organization's access to information and/or locations: "We green doored them," or "The situation has been highlighted by the 'Green Door' compartmentation and exclusion".[40] This meaning was alluded to in episode 4 of Ashes to Ashes, set in 1981, when Shakin' Stevens' cover played whilst the protagonist police detectives sneaked out of a top-secret MOD research centre.

The song was featured in Quentin Tarantino's 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, sung by Leonardo DiCaprio (playing the character of fictional actor Rick Dalton), during a segment on Hullabaloo.

The lyrics "Green door, what's that secret you're keepin'" get a full-page quote (with a smaller attribution text: "Marvin Moore - Lyrics to 'The Green Door'") in the first internal page of The Immortal Hulk #10, a comic book published by Marvel Comics.[41] In that issue (and other issues of the same comic), a particular green door is an integral part of the story.


  1. ^ a b "Jim Lowe: The Green Door". Way Back Attack. Michael Jack Kirby. Retrieved 2022-07-17.
  2. ^ a b c "The Green Door (song by Jim Lowe) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  3. ^ a b "Jim Lowe: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  4. ^ "Cash Box Best Selling Singles – Week ending November 3, 1956". Cash Box magazine. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  5. ^ "Cash Box Rhythm & Blues Top 20 – Week ending December 1, 1956". Cash Box magazine. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  6. ^ "History Of The Green Door Tavern In Chicago". Greendoorchicago.com. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  7. ^ Adam Daniels, "The Shack comes back" Archived 2012-05-27 at archive.today, The Columbia Missourian, 9 August 2007."
  8. ^ Theobald, Stephanie (2007-03-06). "Great lesbian songs? Here's my top five". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2014-03-26. Retrieved 2022-07-17.
  9. ^ Boyd, Brian (2006-09-08). "The truth behind The Green Door". The Guardian. Retrieved 2022-07-17.
  10. ^ Mitch Mitchell (29 September 2006). "Doors of Perception" Film & Music letters: September 2006". The Guardian.
  11. ^ a b "Shakin Stevens: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  13. ^ "Shakin' Stevens – Green Door" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  14. ^ "Shakin' Stevens – Green Door" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  15. ^ a b "Danish Chart Archive - Singles 1979 - ____ (B.T./IFPI DK)". Ukmix.org. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  16. ^ "Sisältää hitin: Levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1960: Artistit STEP - SUE". Sisältää hitin. 13 August 2015. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  17. ^ "Shakin' Stevens – Green Door" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts.
  18. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Green Door". Irish Singles Chart.
  19. ^ "Israel Singles Charts 1987-1995". Ukmix.org. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  20. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Shakin' Stevens" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  21. ^ "Shakin' Stevens – Green Door" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  22. ^ "Shakin' Stevens – Green Door". Top 40 Singles.
  23. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  24. ^ "Shakin' Stevens – Green Door". Swiss Singles Chart.
  25. ^ "World singles charts and sales TOP 50 in 58 countries: FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOODSHAKIN' STEVENS". World singles charts and sales TOP 50 in 58 countries. December 2015. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  26. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1981". Ultratop.be. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  27. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts". Offiziellecharts.de (in German). Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  28. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1981". Top40.nl. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  29. ^ "Jaaroverzichten - Single 1981". Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  30. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1981". Official NZ Music Charts.com. Recorded Music New Zealand Limited. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  31. ^ "Chartfile Top 100". Record Mirror: 27. 26 December 1981. Retrieved 2 November 2020 – via flickr.com.
  32. ^ "IT'S SHAKIN' TIME DOWN UNDER" (PDF). Cash Box. 8 May 1982. p. 26. Retrieved 5 December 2021 – via World Radio History.
  33. ^ "British single certifications – Shakin' Stevens – Green Door". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  34. ^ "FRANKIE VAUGHAN | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  35. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 30, 07 December 1956 - 13 December 1956". OfficialCharts.com. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  36. ^ "This was a phenomenal 1956 for Philips" (PDF). Record Mirror: 54. 22 December 1956. Retrieved 29 January 2022.
  37. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 30, 30 November 1956 - 06 December 1956". OfficialCharts.com. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  38. ^ "The Magnificent Malochi - Blues & Rhythm magazine". Yumpu.com. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  39. ^ David Berg, "The Green Door" Archived 2008-05-22 at the Wayback Machine, The Family, August 1973. Accessed 18 July 2008.
  40. ^ Faurer, Lincoln D. (16 September 1999), Intelligence Support to the Warfighter, in Guideposts for the United States Military in the Twenty-first Century (PDF), Air Force History and Museums Program, archived from the original (PDF) on 9 June 2011
  41. ^ The Immortal Hulk #10 (December 5, 2018). Marvel Comics.