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Boomer Anthems: The End by The Doors

[Full screen and speakers up if that’s you pleasure]

“I remember when I was with Special Forces.  Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn’t see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile: a pile of little arms. And I remember I…I…I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget.

And then I realized, like I was shot — like I was shot with a diamond…a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God, the genius of that. The genius! The will to do that: perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure.

And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand it. These were not monsters. These were men, trained cadres — these men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who have children, who are filled with love — but they had the strength — the strength! — to do that.

If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling, without passion, without judgement. Without judgement! Because it’s judgement that defeats us.”  — Apocalypse Now

The End by The Doors    Morrison was always vague as to the meaning, explaining: “It could be almost anything you want it to be.”

The Doors developed this song during live performances at the Whisky a Go Go, a Los Angeles club where they were the house band in 1966. They had to play two sets a night, so they were forced to extend their songs in order to fill the sets. This gave them a chance to experiment with their songs.

“The End” began as Jim Morrison’s farewell to Mary Werbelow, his girlfriend who followed him from Florida to Los Angeles. It developed into an 11-minute epic.

On August 21, 1966, Jim Morrison didn’t show up for The Doors gig at the Whisky a Go Go. After playing the first set without him, the band retrieved Morrison from his apartment, where he had been tripping on acid. They always played “The End” as the last song, but Morrison decided to play it early in the set, and the band went along. When they got to the part where he could do a spoken improvisation, he started talking about a killer, and said, “Father, I want to kill you. Mother, I want to f–k you!” The crowd went nuts, but the band was fired right after the show. The Doors had recently signed a record deal and they had established a large following, so getting fired from the Whisky was not a crushing blow….

Morrison was on an acid trip when they first tried to record this song. He kept singing “F–k the mother, kill the father” rather than the actual lyrics.   In The Mojo Collection, it states: “Comprehensively wrecked, the singer wound up lying on the floor mumbling the words to his Oedipal nightmare. Then, suddenly animated, he rose and threw a TV at the control room window. Sent home by producer Paul 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; next day the band nailed the track in two takes. Morrison lived for only another five years.”

This is supposedly the last song Morrison heard. The night he died, he was playing old Doors albums, ending with this one. This was the last song on that album.

This was recorded with the lights off and only one candle burning next to Morrison.

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

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

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, he’s 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 calling us
The blue bus is calling us
Driver, where you taking us?

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…”

Come on baby, take a chance with us
Come on baby, take a chance with us
Come on baby, take a chance with us
And meet me at the back of the blue bus
Of the blue bus, on the blue bus, on the blue bus

Come on yeah
Fuck, fuck
Fuck fuck, fuck, fuck
Come on baby, fuck me baby yeah
Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck
Come on baby, fuck me baby
Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck
Come on
Fuck fuck
Fuck fuck
Kill, kill, kill, kill

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

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • jwm February 22, 2020, 7:06 PM

    They played a gig at my high school along with the Standells, in the summer of ’67. I was in between my freshman and sophomore years. I was just hearing about hippies, and LSD, and weed, but I was on the track team and wasn’t into that just yet. They played in the gym. I went down that night to run the track. It was maybe three or four bucks to get in. No way I’d pay that even if I’d had it. So I sat out behind the gym, and listened to the concert through the open back doors. I don’t remember it much to tell the truth. But still…


  • Casey Klahn February 22, 2020, 11:08 PM

    Gerard and jwm, my compliments.

    I got in the army NG in 1975, just as Vietnam was going under. Many or maybe most of my fellow soldiers were just back from Vietnam, and all combat vets of the war, since I was in armor and infantry units and these guys had hardcore MOSs. Point men in airborne infantry platoons, mortarmen, door gunners, combat aviation rescue men, helicopter pilots, medics, Watts riots veterans, and even a few Korean and WW II vets sprinkled in. I was seventeen.

    While I read all the Pat Conroy and James Webb books, and watched all of the better Vietnam War movies to understand what just happened, when I’d ask the veterans about the movies they all said, to a man, that the movies were either nonsense or else they just didn’t have an opinion about them. IOW, the movies were a wash for the veterans; absolute zero effect on them.

    Me? I ate them up. I thought AN was cool and exciting. But what the fuck did I know? Nothing.

    The Doors are cool, though. Air Cav guys can be asses, but I don’t want to draw that point too finely because some were above and beyond.

    I’m glad I missed Vietnam due to my age. I threaded the needle on America’s wars and yes I am a smart sonofabitch for having done so.

  • Snakepit Kansas February 23, 2020, 5:52 AM

    One of my favorite songs and movies. I don’t think I had any illusions that the movie was overly realistic but the story has so many crazy twists and turns…….never get off the boat.

  • Boat Guy February 23, 2020, 6:01 AM

    “I missed Vietnam due to my age”. So what is smart about that?
    We are likely contemporaries. I enlisted in 73, never going in-country. I don’t remember Webb writing until at least a decade later. The book I DO remember reading much earlier was Robert Roth’s ” Sand in the Wind”.
    Many of my friends in college were vets; two notable ones from the Cav, a pilot and a medic. Another friend was with H/2/5 in Hue. Yet another wears a blue ribbon around his neck for friends killed. That war figured large in my life until subsequent ones replaced it.
    Many of the best people I served with were in-country, nearly all as volunteers; they were determined to pass on those hard-won lessons. They were NOT the people portrayed in the movies; they were far better men, among the finest I’ve ever known.

  • Boat Guy February 23, 2020, 6:07 AM

    “Never get off the boat” a great line and one we used for years. See, I also served with guys who ran PBRs in Vietnam. They were NOT the caricatures shown in that execrable film.

  • ghostsniper February 23, 2020, 6:40 AM

    Casey sed: “I’m glad I missed Vietnam…”
    Me too. Now. Not back then.
    I come from a long line of joiner-uppers and knew since I was in 3 cornered drawers that I was gonna be a soldier someday. It was preordained for me. All males join. Conversation over. So I joined up in June of 74 and my understanding was that VN was “officially over” on the 1st of Feb 1975, about 7 months after I went in. I signed up for Infantry Rangers but after the ink is on the paper they use you as they see fit and you don’t matter. They said I was going to be a 12B10, airborne combat engineer. So that’s what I did for the next 4 years, 3 years of them in Wildflecken, Germany, the last 7 months at Fort Campbell, KY.

    This is where I segue to JWM.
    When I entered the army in 1974 I had already been a “hippy” as it were, and was all into it. Kinda. In 1969 I had been playing guitar for a few years and had some friends that were doing the same with drums, basses, keyboards, etc., and we’d sometimes get together and bother the neighbors with our screeching and caterwalling. That was the year I “graduated” from jr high to sr high and in early June the had what was called “Skip Day” where the 10th graders didn’t have to attend class though they did have to be on school property and they had some events scheduled for those students. One of the events was a band was playing in the gym for a few hours and guess who the “band” was? Right. We were very disorganized and frankly, not very good at all. We were all fairly good individually but in an ensemble it was just noise. Well, one of the songs we “tried” to play because it was big stuff that year was the Doors Light My Fire. It’s kind of a long song, for the times, with a lot of keyboard stuff. Sherman Lowe was the keyboard player and his parents made him take lessons for a few years. I was the guitar player and was mostly self taught though I had had lessons on piano and trumpet for a couple years. I could read music. So Sherman and me traded sessions back and forth the whole time, each of trying to stay within the lines but doing a lot of improvising. While we were playing people wandered in and out of the gym but when we took off on Light My Fire the gym filled to capacity. Jody Vaughn was our vox and he sort of looked like Morrison, tall, skinny, hair all over the place. And his pipes worked pretty good. So that was the one and only time I played live in front of people. What, 51 years ago almost? Man, it was like yesterday, or last week. Surely not half a century ago. Was it? Really?

    I still have a bunch of my army stuff but most of it is boxed up or hanging in a closet except my Alice pack which I use when the weather is right. The old Lafayette brand Gibson Les Paul copy of a black beauty with 3 pick ups I played in 69 is gone to places unknown and has been replaced with many others since. My worst regret about the army, other than becoming disabled, is that the 4 years spent there caused me to be an architect later in life than I would have preferred. This is my hindsight view of course.

  • jwm February 23, 2020, 7:01 AM

    I was up for the next to the last draft in ’71. I had to make a long drive to Downey to register. I had my 1A card in hand that summer as I stood in front of the TV watching a guy pull numbers from a bowl. They took the first hundred. I was in the high two hundred and somethings. No further comment.


  • Casey Klahn February 23, 2020, 8:09 AM

    Vietnam is ticklish.

    WWII looms larger in my mental landscape because of my father. Also, he and I talked a lot about TheWar and as a result I was really good at talking to Vietnam vets. The roomy I had at Ft Benning officer’s school who was a point man in the buck seventy-third, who’d wake up in sweats screaming “I can hack it!” He taught me so much as a mortarman I ascended to a very high status in that occupation. I could fukkin run a mortar company down to the aiming level, backwards and forwards and upside down. It was fun, too. Blowing shit up.

    The truck driver who couldn’t hold a job or speak to strangers in public; he had a kid run into the grill of his 5 ton truck on Highway 1. When an asshat boss stateside asked him if he was a baby killer he pretty much went under.

    The LRRP who would go on one-man kill patrols just for shits. The marine who made a tiger eat a smoke grenade (the tiger’s head caved in as he told it). The AH-1 pilot who fired a danger close mission through cloud cover but could’ve just as easily killed our guys but got decorated instead. The later-general who called napalm on his own battalion. The fuck-you lizard LPs. The AWOL heroes. The DS who slayed an NVA by decapitating him with his e tool. The AF medic who crewed a hospital C-130 slick with blood. The classmate’s brother whose mom received his posthumous DSC; he flew his Huey into withering and increasing enemy fire to rescue a downed buddy but died in the attempt. Never listen to anything a mom says about their soldier’s death in service – it is always fukt up and grossly misapprehended. In the army, you can get killed. That’s pretty much it.

    Vietnam gets more interesting as I get older. Sand in the Wind was good writing and I recall it well. The literary legacy of the war is probably much better than the cinematic history. I went to the midnight opening of Full Metal Jacket; I was still young and fresh out of the service. As the story got more and more violent and macabre, I found myself laughing at the dark humor. The rest of the theater was appalled by the movie; I found the humor.

    No, I did want to serve in wartime and I did volunteer for the Gulf War. I couldn’t find shit for my uniforms in Seattle (15 years before t was awash in surplus stores) and my class A buttons were tarnished from storage. They did call me back, fucked up my orders and rescinded them anyway when the war ended after 100 hours.

    I have great respect for the Vietnam vet.

  • Frogdaddy February 23, 2020, 5:50 PM

    Not sure I need to be tripping on anything to listen to this song. It has the potential to reach some dark places in a persons psyche. Similar to Led Zeppelin’s No Quarter. Just me. I was a 68′ baby and have no recollection of what time we were coming out of. If not for the music and/or movies about that time, I’d be clueless. I have an appreciation for those that have come before me, unlike some of today’s kids being indoctrinated to hate your country and its history. Makes me feel like a stranger in a strange land. I can only do my part and educating my kids going forward.

  • Auntie Analogue February 23, 2020, 8:02 PM

    In my teens when “The End” was released on the first of The Doors’ albums I loved the song then and today look back on it with fond nostalgia. It was prime brain chow for young boomers who, such as I, had no clue to what they wanted to major in, or to what they wanted to do in life, as the song seemed to serve me as an outlet for the sort of bewilderment and frustrations that come along with post-adolescence.

    My only complaint today is against whomever has rejiggered – remastered – the original releases from The Doors for CD re-release, because that kind of retconning messes with my fond nostalgia. I still have all of my original Doors’ vinyl LP’s (along with a large collection of other vinyl LP’s and a handful of 45’s), but three and a half years ago someone stole my early-70’s turntable and receiver-amplifier, so it seems unlikely that those albums will again be heard in their original groovy glory.

  • H February 23, 2020, 8:12 PM

    “I’m glad I missed Vietnam due to my age. I threaded the needle on America’s wars and yes I am a smart sonofabitch for having done so.”

    Not hardly. If you missed Viet Nam due to age, smart had nothing to do with it. I went, and damn glad of it. At least I didn’t shovel shit stateside, to paraphrase what Patton supposedly said, and I thank God for it.

  • 15Fixer February 23, 2020, 10:10 PM

    FWIW….. “Apocalypse Now” was an adaptation of “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad. I was too young for Viet Nam, too old for GWOT. Did my time in Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Have never looked at a war movie since that impressed me at all until “Band of Brothers.”

  • Casey Klahn February 23, 2020, 10:11 PM

    H my compliments. I did serve and got my sense of irony there. Not the first guy to utter that stupid joke, and won’t be the last.

  • ghostsniper February 24, 2020, 4:37 AM

    @Auntie, I have the full compliment of 70’s Pioneer audio gear our here in my detached office-workshop and 2 years ago I bought a very nice all-in-one unit for my wife to use in the house.
    This one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GRYDU5Y/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    It functions very well. It has a turntable, cassette player, AM/FM, CD player, and a USB port which I have stuck a sub-minature 64gb drive into with all of RUSH’s 178 songs on it. Oh yeah, it also has a remote and built in speakers and bluetooth. No, it won’t create that legendary 70’s “wall of sound” but it’ll get you there, and do it for about $120., delivered. Put them albums to work!

  • Auntie Analogue February 24, 2020, 6:44 AM

    My dear ghostsniper, thank you for your audio system recommendation. In the months leading to last Christmas I saw the multi-media Victrola unit you’d bought on sale at my local Sam’s Club and had considered buying one of them because in addition to my hoard of vinyl LP’s I’ve also got a smaller trove of recordings on cassette tapes (all of my smaller collection of CD’s had long ago been ripped to my computer). Amazon lists the price of that Victrola unit at $119.32, and now I can’t recall the sum that Sam’s Club had asked for it. Now you’ve got me thinking again about getting one of those all-in-one contraptions.

    Were I to buy one of them the problem would be how to get my vinyl collection up from the basement. I’m older now, rather arthritic in the joints, and have some trouble walking and climbing (and descending!) stairs, and can lift perhaps eight or ten vinyl records at a time, so it would take more than a hundred treks out of the house, round the back, down to the cellar, and back up the stairs to fetch all of those discs. The next hurdle would be where to put all of those records, as the giant flakeboard entertainment-&-record-rack center that I’d bought in the 70’s had, under the massive weight of all those vinyl LP’s plus the bygone stereo system & hefty speakers, some fifteen years ago sagged itself and overstrained its Ikea-like plastic upright-&-shelf connector thingies into a trembling state of imminent collapse that was irreparable.

    Thank you, again, for your recommendation!

  • Dave February 24, 2020, 8:34 AM

    My late father served over there with the 1st SFG. He retired before we pulled out. He was too old school for the Doors but I do recall him listening to a lot of Johnny Cash and some Charlie Pride.

  • ghostsniper February 24, 2020, 9:05 AM

    Auntie, what’s the hurry?
    Think of your 8 favorite albums down there in the basement, bring em up. While down there, set all of them up in small 8 unit groups for future trips. As far as the player itself, it is small, much smaller than just my gigantic Pioneer SX1250 receiver which weighs an amazing 74lbs. My wife likes the whitish country style furniture so I bought the white version of the Victrola and she has it sitting on a small white country table with a shelf down below with a few albums on it. She shuns clutter and we have a large entertainment center that contains all the other albums, cassettes, dvd’s, cd’s, etc.

    The Victrola is self contained, the stereo speakers are built-in. The only separate part if the remote control. Save the box and packing in case there’s an issue later on. I bought it on amazon and went ahead and got the extended warranty. My wife doesn’t listen to it a lot, just now and then, but in Jan she did a 24 hour marathon of RUSH toons when she heard Neil Peart died. Forgot to mention. The Victrola also rips stuff, from albums and tapes and you can burn em to cd/dvd or to a USB drive as MP3’s. My wife played flute in her high school band and in 1972 the band director had the band perform an albums worth of popular songs which he recorded to albums. She played the album on the Victrola and saved it to a USB drive which she can play in her computer, on the TV, phone, whatever. It’s good to have multiple copies of everything. Order it today with Prime and Wed afternoon you’ll be jammin’ like it’s 1999 all over again!

  • Non Bufo February 25, 2020, 7:57 AM

    His brain is squirming like a toad. Ugh.

  • Vanderleun February 25, 2020, 8:16 AM

    I agree, Bufo. It is not one of his better lines…. except if he was tripping on acid and ran over the back end of a toad on Ventura highway and then got out to examine it. Ugh.

    ghostsniper sez “While we were playing people wandered in and out of the gym but when we took off on Light My Fire the gym filled to capacity. ”

    Loved that song. When it was new I got laid more often to that tune than any other. Written for that.