The End (The Doors)

28 AUGUST 1966


There were several acts in the recording studio during 1966 putting down cutting-edge music that would be released during 1967. Among these were the Velvet Underground and Jimi Hendrix, but one of the most radical signposts to the late '60s was created by the Doors with their self-titled debut album, recorded in August 1966 in Hollywood. One of the most remarkable songs on that album - both musically and lyrically - was 'The End'.

Jim Morrison originally wrote this about breaking up with a girlfriend, but as the band performed it over several months of gigs at the legendary 'Whisky a Go Go' club in Los Angeles, it evolved into the rambling 12-minute track heard on the album. 

'The End' has a slow, raga-rock opening that slowly builds into utter frenzy after a remarkably edgy spoken word section: 
'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, and
And he came to a door...and he looked inside
Father, yes son, I want to kill you
Mother...I want to... (screaming)
The listener was left in doubt as to what the song's protagonist wanted to do. The Beatles had released Revolver just a few weeks earlier, and as revolutionary as some of that record had seemed at the time, it was still mainstream pop music compared to material like this.  

'The End' famously featured in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, and was ranked #336 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2010. It is not to everyone's taste, but  - alongside songs such as the Velvet Underground's 'Heroin' - it was an important signifier of the cultural shift underway in 1966.

Released: 4 January 1967
Recorded: August 1966
Length: 11:41 [album version], 6:28 [Apocalypse Now version]
Label: Elektra
Producers: The Doors, Paul A. Rothchild

The End (The Doors)