The End (The Doors song)

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"The End"
Song by the Doors
from the album The Doors
ReleasedJanuary 4, 1967 (1967-01-04)[1]
RecordedHollywood, California, August 1966
Genre
Length11:41
LabelElektra
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)

"The End" is an epic song by the American rock band the Doors. Lead singer Jim Morrison initially wrote the lyrics about his break up with girlfriend Mary Werbelow,[5] but it evolved through months of performances at the Whisky a Go Go into a much longer song. The Doors recorded a nearly 12-minute version for their self-titled debut album, which was released on January 4, 1967.[1]

"The End" was recorded live in the studio with no overdubbing.[6] Two takes were recorded, with reportedly the second being used for the album.[7] It was the last song the original group performed at their last concert on December 12, 1970, at The Warehouse in New Orleans.

Lyrics[edit]

In an interview in 1969, Morrison explained about the lyrics:

[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.[8]

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

When 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.[9]

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)[10] Morrison had worked on a student production of Oedipus Rex at Florida State University.[11] 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![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 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.[14]

The Pop Chronicles documentary reports that critics found the song "Sophoclean and Joycean."[10]

"The End" was ranked at number 336 on 2010 Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[11] The song's guitar solo was ranked number 93 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time".[15]

Other versions[edit]

Studio[edit]

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.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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[16]—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[edit]

Usage in film and television[edit]

  • "The End" was used in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film Apocalypse Now, both in the opening sequence and during the climactic scene. The song was used in order to emphaize the apocalyptic Vietnam War and to put emphasis on its damages.
  • A sketch in a 1979 episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Martin Sheen, satirized the troubled production of Apocalypse Now, using "The End" in a similar manner as the actual film. A sketch in a 2004 episode involved John McCain driven to madness while campaigning for George W. Bush as a parody of Apocalypse Now.
  • The 1980 short, Porklips Now by Ernie Fosselius, a parody of Apocalypse Now, uses the song with rewritten lyrics ("this is the beginning/end of the film, my friends")
  • The song was used in the final episode of The Dennis Miller Show during another Apocalypse Now parody sequence, in which Dennis Miller was airlifted by (we are led to believe) a helicopter out of the set.
  • The opening to the song was used in the 2008 episode 8, Series 12 (Vietnam Special) of the TV programme Top Gear as a send off of the song's use in Apocalypse Now.
  • Director Martin Scorsese once used the song in a sex scene montage in his early student film Who's That Knocking at My Door (1968).
  • Morrison's one-time lover Nico covered the song for her fourth album (1973), which shared the title.
  • The song was used as the sign off by the English language section of Radio Berlin International, before it closed down forever on October 2, 1990.
  • The song was used in Oliver Stone's 1991 film The Doors, where it plays while the band takes LSD in the desert.
  • "Tiny Sick Tears", from Frank Zappa's 1991 album You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4, parodies the song's Freudian imagery.
  • In a 1993 episode of Animaniacs parodying Apocalypse Now, the song is parodied by a singer who provides the lyrics "This is the beginning ... the beginning of our story ... the beginning", changing the lyric to say "middle" later on and then "ending" at the end. It is later shown that a Jim Morrison-like character has been singing the whole time, who is run over by a golf cart at the end of the episode.
  • Nirvana parodied the song live with Kurt Cobain singing normally (although with different lyrics) and Krist Novoselic drunkenly doing improvised spoken word parts about the killer awaking in Belgium and craving waffles.
  • Norwegian pop rock singer Marion Raven sampled lines from "The End" in her song "For You I'd Die", written about Jim Morrison and his longtime girlfriend Pamela Courson. In it Raven sings the lines "Oh, this is the end / My only friend, the end / Are words from my favorite band."
  • Homer Simpson sings the song as he's walking down the street in The Simpsons' 1999 episode "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder".
  • In 2000 Travis Meeks of the rock band Days of the New covered the song with the remaining members of The Doors on VH1 Storytellers. The song was later recorded for the Doors tribute album Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors.
  • The 2006 The Venture Bros. episode "Assassinanny 911" parodies the Oedipal verse. Hank Venture is pricked by a stiletto in arch-villain Molotov Cocktease's boot and begins to hallucinate, as if on a psychedelic trip. He, his father Dr. Venture and Molotov have the following exchange:
Hank: Father ...
Dr. Venture: Yes, Hank?
Hank: I want to kill you. Molotov! I want to ... AHHHH-come on baby!

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Doors – Album Details". thedoors.com. 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.
  3. ^ Borgzinner, Jon (August 18, 1967). "How a shy pandit became a pop hero". LIFE. Vol. 63 no. 7. New York City: Time Inc. p. 36. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  4. ^ Gaar, Gillian G. (2015). The Doors: The Illustrated History. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Voyageur Press. p. 92. ISBN 1-62788705-9.
  5. ^ Farley, Robert (September 25, 2005). "Doors: Mary and Jim to the end". St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on November 7, 2005. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  6. ^ Classic Albums: The Doors. Classic Albums. April 14, 2008.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Hopkins, Jerry (July 26, 1969). "The Rolling Stone Interview: Jim Morrison". Rolling Stone. New York City: Wenner Media. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  9. ^ James, Lizze (1981). "Jim Morrison: Ten Years Gone". Creem Magazine. Detroit, Michigan. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b Staff (April 7, 2011). "500 Greatest Songs of All Time, No. 336 The Doors: The End". Rolling Stone. New York City: Wenner Media. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  12. ^ Fong-Torres, Ben (2006). The Doors. New York City: Hyperion. p. 61. ISBN 1-40130303-X. ISBN 978-1-40130-303-7.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Staff (October 30, 2008). "100 Greatest Guitar Solos: 51-100". Guitar World. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  16. ^ "Making of The Doors: The Recording Sessions". Waiting for the Sun Archives. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  17. ^ "The Doors: Live at the Matrix 1967". thedoors.com. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  18. ^ "The Doors: Live at the Bowl '68". thedoors.com. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  19. ^ "The Doors: Live in New York". thedoors.com. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  20. ^ "The Doors: Live in Vancouver". thedoors.com. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2018.