Doors – Moonlight Drive ….Sunday Album Cut

As a teen, when I first heard these lyrics I liked it right away. Let’s swim to the moon, Let’s climb through the tide…pretty heavy stuff for a 13-year-old. This was released as the B-side of “Love Me Two Times.” The lyrics got to me and also the slide guitar that Robby Krieger played…it is hypnotic.

Jim Morrison wrote the lyrics while he was living on a rooftop in Venice Beach, California. At night everything was clear, so he would look into people’s windows, study what they were doing, and watch their TV sets.

When Jim Morrison first met Ray Manzarek this was the poem that Morrison recited for him that he wrote. Manzarek remembered Morrison from the UCLA film school. He liked the poem so much that he convinced Morrison to form a band.

They first tried to record this song as a straight blues song but it didn’t work as well so Manzarek suggested a “rock tango. This was the first song recorded by The Doors. It was left off their first album because they felt their performance wasn’t good enough. It appeared on their second Strange Days album released in 1967.

The Doors would continue to play this song for years live. It was a song that Morrison could improvise on and he did. Some of the live versions reveal a link to a sort of death by drowning – whether murder, suicide or simply going too far. Morrison sings in live performances, referring to “fishes for your friends” and “pearls for your eyes.”

There were bootlegs of Blondie covering this song circulating in the 70s…a live version but not a studio version. The studio version was released on the box set Against the Odds 1974–1982 which was just released in August of this year.

Robby Krieger: I played with the Doors, the first song we rehearsed was Moonlight Drive. I played the slide, and they all loved it; that’s probably why I ended up being in the band. John had brought Jim over to my house one day and I played some slide for them. Then we all got together the next day at this guy named Hank’s house. I had this old Magnatone amp which was really cool.
It was like a Twin, but really funky, and it had a great growl to it. I think one of the speakers was blown. It was kind of like having built-in distortion.

There are two versions of Moonlight Drive on The Doors Box Set. One is the original demo, which I didn’t even play on, and the other version is the very first recording we ever did as the Doors. That version was supposed to be on our debut album, but we ended up not using it, and a different arrangement was recorded for the second album. I always liked that first version! The funny thing is, we lost track of it for years. We finally found it when we were compiling material for the box set.

Ray Manzarek: “I knew instantly we had found ‘it,’ that indefinable, transcendent something that Kerouac refers to, I remember showing Robby the chord changes for a simple ‘G’ progression. He pulled out his bottleneck and said, ‘I’ve got an idea for this, something sort of liquid-like.’ A lot of The Doors music came to be like that – water-y. That came from living on the beach. We were actually there, whereas even The Beach Boys, for instance, didn’t really live on the beach.”

Moonlight Drive

Let’s swim to the moon, uh-huh
Let’s climb through the tide
Penetrate the evenin’ that the
City sleeps to hide
Let’s swim out tonight, love
It’s our turn to try
Parked beside the ocean on our
Moonlight drive

Let’s swim to the moon, uh-huh
Let’s climb through the tide
Surrender to the waiting worlds
That lap against our side
Nothin’ left open and no
Time to decide
We’ve stepped into a river on our
Moonlight drive

Let’s swim to the moon
Let’s climb through the tide
You reach your hand to hold me
But I can’t be your guide
Easy, I love you as I
Watch you glide
Falling through wet forests on our
Moonlight drive, baby
Moonlight drive

Come on, baby, gonna take a little ride, down
Down by the ocean side, gonna get real close
Get real tight
Baby gonna drown tonight
Goin’ down, down, down

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

29 thoughts on “Doors – Moonlight Drive ….Sunday Album Cut”

  1. Kinda wild he was singing about drowning, death etc as who knows what went down in that bathtub in Paris…
    I stay say he’s alive and living in Nashville! My 2 cents lol

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  2. Moonlight Drive is my favorite song on Strange Days, besides maybe People are Strange. I think they were at their amusing best on this type of song where the lyrics and the music are fun, rather than the pseudo-serious ones. I always had a hunch that at least half of their songs were put-ons, but it’s hard to tell unless it’s one of those ones where he throws a joke into the middle of the lyrics. But then, I love the Doors because I think they are grand entertainment. Not because I ever thought Jim Morrison was a Mystic or a great poet, or whatever it is that some of his fans seem to think he was. Ha ha. I love them because they were great fun. Like you, I really like the part about swimming to the Moon and climbing to the tide. I always liked things with backwards opposites and stuff. Like the kind of children’s books that you used to love with all their puns and stuff that you found endlessly amusing when you were a kid. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like it because I like word play in songs like with Dylan’s mid-sixties songs. The words just flow together but don’t ask me what they mean.
      Oh to top it off…I love Dr Seuss…so it all goes together.

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  3. Nice slide; and I know this will get me eviscerated but Jim’s vocals stylings irks me- not the lyrics. Sorry folks, can’t hide how my ears feel! I know I’m out of step with the rest of the world…

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    1. Yea she JUST released it in August…they did it in the seventies but I couldn’t pin down when they recorded it.

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    1. I’ve never been a huge Morrison fan…like you I like the musicians more and felt for them to put up with him on live performances.

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      1. We probably spoke about this before, but that’s the aspect of the game I dislike the most is how players are traded and change clubs so easily. (like Jerry Seinfeld’s skit about supporters essentially supporting a ‘uniform’).
        I have to give Houston respect in that regard because it seems to me, they have forged a ‘Houston’ team of long-stayers and Gatorade thumpers haha

        Liked by 1 person

      2. lol…yea they paid them…that makes a difference. Many teams hate paying the good players but they did. The only reason that I am happy that Houston won is Dusty Baker. I’m glad he finally won a championship as a manager. The last one he won was in 1981 as a player for the Dodgers.

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      3. As you know I know diddly squat about the history of baseball, but that Dusty Baker story fits in neat with the whole Baseball romanticism thing. That must have been good for you to see that given your affiliation with the LAD’s and Brooklyn.

        Liked by 1 person

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