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*3.04-THE END (Doors)

Doors

LISTEN

[Intro]

This is the end
Beautiful friend.
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end.
I'll never look into your eyes again.

         Can you picture what will be
         So limitless and free?
         Desperately in need
         Of some stranger’s hand
         In a desperate land.

[Break]

                   Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain
                   And all the children are insane
                   All the children are insane
                   Waiting for the summer rain!

                             There's danger on the edge of town.
                             Ride the King's highway, baby.
                             Weird scenes inside the gold mine.
                             Ride the highway west, baby.

                             Ride the snake, ride the snake
                             To the lake, the ancient lake, baby.
                             The snake is long, seven miles.
                             Ride the snake--he's old, and his skin is cold.

                             The west is the best.
                             The west is the best.
                             Get here—
                             And we'll do the rest!

                             The blue bus is callin' us
                             The blue bus is callin' us.
                             Driver, where you taken' us?

                                       [SPOKEN]: The killer awoke before dawn. He put his boots on.
                                       He took a face from the ancient gallery
                                       And he walked on down the hall.
                                       He went into the room where his sister lived, and then he
                                       Paid a visit to his brother, and then he--
                                       He walked on down the hall, yeah.
                                       And he came to a door, and he looked inside.
                                       Father? Yes son? I want to kill you!
                                       Mother? I want to fuck you!

[Break]

                             C'mon baby, take a chance with us (3x)
                             And meet me at the back of the blue bus.
                             Doin' a blue rock
                             On a blue bus.
                             Doin' a blue rock.
                             C'mon, yeah!

[Break]

This is the end
Beautiful friend.
This is the end
My only friend, the end.

It hurts to set you free
But you'll never follow me.
The end of laughter and soft lies.
The end of nights we tried to die.

This is the end.


The Doors’ version of a raga in The End had less to do with recreating Oriental mysticism, and more to do with providing a droning backdrop to stream of consciousness poetry, poetry that is rumored to have been directly recorded while Jim Morrison was in an LSD trance. There’s some of Walt Whitman’s Whoever You Are Holding Me Now In Hand, especially the Morrison’s lines It hurts to set you free / But you’ll never follow me, and the direct address to “you”, my beautiful (& only) friend. A song released in the following album Strange Days, which is titled When the Music’s Over, seems to imply the “you” is Music or the Muse, but in the context of The End Morrison seems to be directly addressing the listener. Certain lines remain in my mind after more than forty years because of their poetic mystery such as Lost in Roman wilderness of pain, and Weird scenes inside the gold mine. California, despite the efforts of the Beach Boys and the Mamas & Papas, didn’t arrive at West Coast hippie cool until Jim Morrison bragged that The West is the best. The blue bus alluded to in the poem conjures up not only Ken Kesey’s bus in Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Test, but a hippie fad that lasted for several years of traveling together as a commune inside a converted school bus. He seems to be calling freaks everywhere to come to California. In these lyrics also appears the snake that would be a phallic image for Morrison's future work, although here the snake is nothing but repellent: he’s old and his skin is cold. Sexuality is skewed (no “girl” or “she” but plenty of “baby”); nevertheless sex is shocking in the spoken Oedipal section which cites the Freudian theory of sexual maturity. Buried underneath the noise and hum of the instruments, Morrison even manages to chant the word “fuck”…the audience really couldn’t hear the word on the record but intuited precisely what Morrison was saying. [This is the first time to my knowledge “fuck” had even been alluded to in pop music. The closest lyrics had gotten at this point was George Harrison’s line in Love You To which states There’s people standing round / They’ll screw you in the ground.]

The End was the longest pop song outside of Bob Dylan’s Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands up to this point. And of course, it was emphatically the “ending” of the album. Whereas Dylan’s long records repeated basically the same musical structure many times, broken up sometimes by a chorus, The End doesn’t really have standard verses. After a long gauzy intro, as if looking through a veil, entering a rite, the song’s melodic structure is A-B-C-D-E-D-A, broken up with instrumental breaks, with the E section and climax of the song being a recitative. Not that the song is melodic in any of its verses; rather, the instrumental drone, sometimes background, sometimes swallowing Morrison’s lead vocal in a din, is like a varying support that Morrison can weave his poetry over. It’s amazing that such a song of such complex sound texture was entirely recorded without overdubs by the four members of the Doors. The song was recorded twice, the first recording melded with the second at the point of the spoken narrative. Many of psychedelia’s ambitious compositions were dependent on studio engineering and could not performed live. However, the Doors performed The End live on occasions which are now available on YouTube that demonstrate the group was able to perform the entire complex set without any other musicians or enginners and without any diminishment of the album’s studio impact.

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