Doors – Hello, I Love You

In my teens, I got into the Doors. It happened at just the right time because their popularity rose in the 1980s. When I heard this song after listening to their other music…I thought wow this is very radio-friendly for The Doors. Some fans called them a sell-out…saying it was too top 40 which I don’t think is right…not their best song but a good one. Every song cannot have lyrics like “Don’t chase the clouds pagodas” in them.

I liked it and still do and I heard The Kinks All Day and All of the Night in the song. I wasn’t the only one that heard it. Morrison admitted it and would pay Ray Davies royalties after it hit. Morrison wrote this after seeing a beautiful woman in 1965 walking down a California beach. I also read that he helped popularize the pickup line…” Hello, I love you. Won’t you tell me your name?”  that probably hasn’t worked for anyone…ok maybe Jim.

This song was on their demo to shop for a record deal…I have it at the bottom of the post. They didn’t put it on an album until 1968 when they needed material for their third album Waiting for the Sun. They needed more material for that album and pulled up this one from their original demo to re-record it. Although you can hear the Kinks in there… Krieger and Densmore borrowed the finished version’s rhythm from Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love. Robby Krieger also ran his guitar through a fuzz box to get a distorted effect like Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love.”

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, #12 in New Zealand, and #15 in the UK in 1968. Waiting For The Sun peaked at #1 on the Billboard Album Charts, #3 in Canada, and #16 in the UK.

I always liked Ray Davies’s response to the song’s similarities to his All Day and All of the Night.

Ray Davies: “The funniest thing was when my publisher came to me on tour and said The Doors had used the riff for ‘All Day And All Of The Night’ for ‘Hello, I Love You.’ I said rather than sue them, can’t we just get them to own up? My publisher said, ‘They have, that’s why we should sue them!’ (laughs) Jim Morrison admitted it, which to me was the most important thing. The most important thing, actually, is to take (the idea) somewhere else.”

This would be the Door’s last #1 song…Light My Fire is the first one. The R.E.M. song “Pop Song ’89” is a play on this. Instead of talking about sex, they talk to the girl about politics and the weather. This song was also used in the movies PlatoonCasualties of War, and Forrest Gump.

The demo of Hello, I Love You. 

Hello, I Love You

Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?
Hello, I love you, let me jump in your game
Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?
Hello, I love you, let me jump in your game
She’s walking down the street
Blind to every eye she meets
Do you think you’ll be the guy
To make the queen of the angels sigh?
Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?
Hello, I love you, let me jump in your game
Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name?
Hello, I love you, let me jump in your game
She holds her head so high, like a statue in the sky
Her arms are wicked, and her legs are long
When she moves my brain screams out this song
Sidewalk crouches at her feet
Like a dog that begs for something sweet
Do you hope to make her see, you fool?
Do you hope to pluck this dusky jewel?
Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello
I want you, hello, I need my baby
Hello, hello, hello, hello

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

Doors -Break On Through (To The Other Side)

When I went through my Doors phase as a teen…this one was one of the songs that drew me in. I still like the band but I have sympathy for the members not named Morrison. When they played live in the later part of their career…he could be a handful.

This was the first song on The Doors debut album, and also their first single. It got some airplay on Los Angeles radio stations after their friends and fans kept requesting it. Light My Fire…did just that after this single. Break On Through peaked at #126 in the Billboard Charts, #64 in the UK, and #28 in New Zealand in 1967.

“She gets high,” was in the original chorus but their producer Paul Rothchild thought that would limit the song’s airplay potential, and convinced the group to leave it out. Instead, “high” was edited out, making it sound like, “she get uuggh,” but the “high” line can be heard in live versions and the high was restored in the 1999 remaster.

Elektra Records boss Jac Holzman commissioned a promotional film for this song…later known as a music video. Like The Beatles, The Doors were innovators in the music video medium, creating films of various kinds to their songs. Videos saved bands’ trips to TV studios to mime their latest record. MTV used them as their business plan two decades later.

Doors Billboard Break On Through

Elektra Records promoted the album with a billboard on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood with a photo of the band and the headline, “The Doors Break On Through With An Electrifying Album.” It gave a lot of attention to the band at the time.

John Rechy’s 1963 book City of Night was a huge influence on Morrison in writing this song. There is a passage that Rechy wrote “place to place, week to week, night to night” and Jim turned it into Made the scene, Week to week, Day to day, Hour to hour.

Jim Morrison: “I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing of the established order. I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning.”

Break On Through (To The Other Side)

You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side, yeah

We chased our pleasures here
Dug our treasures there
But can you still recall
The time we cried?
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side

Come on, yeah

Everybody loves my baby
Everybody loves my baby
She get
She get
She get
She get high

I found an island in your arms
Country in your eyes
Arms that chain us
Eyes that lie
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side
Break on through, oww
Oh, yeah

Made the scene
Week to week
Day to day
Hour to hour
The gate is straight
Deep and wide
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side
Break on through
Break on through
Break on through
Break on through
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Doors – The End

There is one thing I think of when I hear this song, and that is Apocalypse Now. The intro to the song really sounds like the end is coming. Robby Krieger’s use of slighty off notes adds to it.

Ray Manzarek: “To sit back in an audience and hear ‘The End’ come on at the beginning of Apocalypse Now, it’s absolutely thrilling.”

The song was on their self-titled debut album released in 1967. It ranked at number 336 on 2010 Rolling Stone magazines list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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.

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 sang this live as F–k the mother, rather than “Screw the mother.” At the time, the band couldn’t cross what their engineer Bruce Botnick called “the f–k barrier,” so they sanitized the lyric on the album. When Botnick remixed the album for a 1999 reissue, however, he put Morrison’s “f–k”s back in, which is how the song was intended.

Jim Morrison's Heartbreaker: Mary Werbelow's Abandoned Notebook - GonzoToday

“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. Doors drummer John Densmore has said that Morrison wrote Crystal Ship about Mary also. That song was another goodbye song also. Werbelow and Morrison broke up in 1965 but saw each other off and on until she moved to India in 1969. He reportedly told her that the first four Doors albums were about her…Manzarek has said that parts of them were.

Mary Werbelow is a mystery to many. People still want to know if she is still alive. She gave a short interview in 2005 but has not been heard from since. She said in that interview that she never wants to talk about Jim again. Mary says she is tired. She has trouble sleeping. She says she’s not sure if she has done right by talking so much. She’s worried that others will seek interviews that she does not want to give. She wants that made clear: She does not want to talk about Jim anymore.

On July 3, 1971, Pamela Courson reported that she found him dead in the bathtub of their apartment in Paris. The cause of death was listed as heart attack; drugs were suspected. There was no autopsy. The coffin was sealed before his family or the American Embassy were notified. It was not until six days later that the Doors’ manager announced Morrison’s death to the world.

The End

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
Doin’ a blue rug, on a blue bus, doin’ a
Come on yeah
Fuck, fuck-ah, yeah
Fuck, fuck
Fuck, fuck
Fuck, fuck, fuck yeah!
Come on baby, come on
Fuck me baby, fuck yeah
Fuck, fuck, fuck, yeah!
Fuck, yeah, come on baby
Fuck me baby, fuck fuck
Whoa, whoa, whoa, yeah
Fuck yeah, do it, yeah
Come on!
Huh, huh, huh, huh, yeah
Kill, kill, 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

Doors – Light My Fire

The organ intro to this song by Ray Manzarek is one of most iconic intros in rock. I first heard this song as a kid and automatically loved it. It is the song that the Doors are most known by. I like the album version that is longer and has more of a solo.

This was included on their first album and it was a huge hit. The song launched them to stardom. Before it was released, The Doors were an underground band popular in the Los Angeles area, but “Light My Fire” got the attention of a mass audience.

The producers of The Ed Sullivan Show asked the band to change the line “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” for their appearance in 1967. Morrison said he would, but sang it anyway. Afterwards, he told Sullivan that he was nervous and simply forgot to change the line. No that didn’t fly, and The Doors were never invited back.

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, #7 in New Zealand, and #7 in the UK in 1967. Frankly, that surprises me because I thought it would have been an international number 1.

This was the second single on their self-titled debut album. Break On Through (To The Other Side) was their debut single.

The four band members were credited for writing this song Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, John Densmore, and Ray Manzarek.

Jim Morrison indicated in his notebooks that he disliked this song and hated performing it. He also seemed to resent that the popularity of the band derived from this song, which he had just a small part in writing.

The Doors didn’t have a bass player and none was credited because studio musicians were not credited. Carol Kaye claims it was her.

From Songfacts

Most of the song was written by Doors guitarist Robby Krieger, who wanted to write about one of the elements: fire, air, earth, and water. He recalled to Uncut: “I was living with my parents in Pacific Palisades – I had my amp and SG. I asked Jim, what should I write about? He said, ‘Something universal, which won’t disappear two years from now. Something that people can interpret themselves.’ I said to myself I’d write about the four elements; earth, air, fire, water, I picked fire, as I loved the Stones song, ‘Play With Fire,’ and that’s how that came about.”

Krieger came up with the melody and wrote most of the lyrics, which are about leaving inhibitions behind in flames of passion.

At first, the song had a folk flavor, but it ignited when Jim Morrison wrote the second verse (“our love become a funeral pyre…”) and Ray Manzarek came up with the famous organ intro. Drummer John Densmore also contributed, coming up with the rhythm. Like all Doors songs of this era, the band shared composer credits.

On the album, which was released in January 1967, the song runs 6:50. The group’s first single, “Break On Through (To The Other Side),” reached just #126 in America. “Light My Fire” was deemed too long for airplay, but radio stations (especially in Los Angeles) got requests for the song from listeners who heard it off the album. Their label, Elektra Records decided to release a shorter version so they had producer Paul Rothchild do an edit. By chopping out the guitar solos, he whittled it down to 2:52. This version was released as a single in April, and the song took off, giving The Doors their first big hit.

To many fans, the single edit was an abomination, and many DJs played the album version once the song took off.

Elektra founder Jaz Holzman recalled to Mojo magazine November 2010: “We had that huge problem with the time length – seven-and-a-half minutes. Nobody could figure out how to cut it. Finally I said to Rothchild, ‘Nobody can cut it but you.’ When he cut out the solo, there were screams. Except from Jim. Jim said, ‘Imagine a kid in Minneapolis hearing even the cut version over the radio, it’s going to turn his head around.’ So they said, ‘Go ahead, release it.’ We released it with the full version on the other side.”

This was the first song Robby Krieger wrote to completion. Jim Morrison did most of the songwriting for the album, but he needed some help and asked Krieger to step in. The 20-year-old guitarist asked him what to write about, and Morrison replied, “Something universal.”

There are some pretty basic, but effective, rhymes in this song:


A “funeral pyre” is a platform used in ceremonial cremations. The image evokes spirituality and ancient mythology, as well as death, one of Jim Morrison’s favorite topics. Robby Krieger objected to the line at first, but Morrison convinced him it would work in opposition to the love-based lyrics that dominate the song.

This was produced by Paul Rothchild and was recorded in late 1966 and then released in April 1967.

The song topped the Hot 100 for the first three weeks of July 1967. It sold over one million copies and was the first #1 hit for their record label Elektra. 

This was the first rock song to feature both a guitar and keyboard in the instrumental section.

A blind, Puerto Rican singer named Jose Feliciano recorded a Latin-tinged version of this song that reached #3 in 1968 and won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Performance, Male. For Feliciano, who also won the Best New Artist Grammy that year, the song was his breakout hit and introduced his style of acoustic, woodwind-heavy arrangements. Based on his “Light My Fire” performance, Feliciano was asked to sing the The Star Spangled Banner before Game 5 of World Series between the Tigers and Cardinals. He delivered the first non-traditional take on the National Anthem at a major sporting event, doing a slow, acoustic version and causing an uproar. Feliciano capitalized on the controversy by releasing his Anthem performance as a single, and it reached #50 in the US.

In 1968, Buick offered The Doors $75,000 to use this song in a commercial as “Come on Buick, light my fire.” With Morrison away, Krieger, Densmore, and Manzarek agreed to allow it. When Morrison found out, he pitched a fit and killed the deal.

This was the last song Jim Morrison performed live. It took place at the Doors concert at The Warehouse in New Orleans on December 12, 1970. Midway through the song, Morrison became exasperated and smashed his microphone into the floor, ending the show.

It was also the last song The Doors played live as a trio, as they continued without Morrison after his death. Their final performance took place at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on September 10, 1972.

According to Ray Manzarek on BBC Radio 2’s program Ray Manzarek’s Summer of Love, the baseline to “Light My Fire” was inspired by Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill.”

Manzarek told how the keyboard solo came about: “It was exactly what we were doing at the time at Whisky a Go Go – letting the music take us wherever it might lead in a particular performance, just improvising. And that?s exactly the same way that solo came about.” 

She was a first-call studio pro at the time and had performed on a lot of the hits that were recorded in Los Angeles, including many of Phil Spector’s productions. She told Songfacts regarding her involvement: “The Doors weren’t there. Just a couple of the guys were there in the booth. We cut the track. I’m playing on that, but I don’t like to talk about it, because there’s too many fanatics about that stuff. I’m a prude. I don’t do drugs. I think it’s stupid. I think for people to be into drugs and to die on stage, I think that’s so stupid, and totally unnecessary. So I stay away from even talking about that. But I am on the contract, yeah, I played on the hit of that.” (Here’s our full Carol Kaye interview.)

The extended organ and guitar solos in the album version of the song are based on two of John Coltrane’s works: his 1961 track “Ole,” and his jazz cover of the song “My Favorite Things” from the motion picture The Sound of Music. 

Robby Krieger told Clash Music he put “every chord I knew into this song.” Most of the group’s songs to this point were three-chord compositions, so he wanted to do something more “adventurous.”

In concert, Robby Krieger never played the same guitar solo on this song. He would sometimes mix in bits of the Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby.”

Train covered this on the 2000 Doors tribute album Stoned Immaculate. Lead singer Pat Monahan sang with the remaining members (Manzarek, Krieger, Densmore) on the VH1’s Storytellers dedicated to the Doors. Other artists to cover the song include Jackie Wilson, Etta James, Shirley Bassey, Nancy Sinatra, Will Young, UB40, B. J. Thomas and Beastie Boys.

Light My Fire

You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn’t get much higher

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
And our love become a funeral pyre

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire, yeah

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
And our love become a funeral pyre

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire, yeah

You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn’t get much higher

Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire
Try to set the night on fire
Try to set the night on fire
Try to set the night on fire

Doors – Hyacinth House—- Sunday Album Cut

I’ve told this story before but I bought LA Woman at a family’s yard sale in the 80s for 10 cents I believe…it was in mint condition. I went through a Doors phase that a lot of teens go through. I never liked all they had but I do like a lot of their music. This song was love at first listen. This and the debut album are my favorite Doors’ albums.

Morrison could be a handful at times for the band. His singing always sounded ominous to me…like something was about to happen. The guitar riff in this song is light but very catchy and the song will stick with you.

Hyacinthus was a young love of the Greek God Apollo. Apollo accidentally killed him, and from his blood sprang the hyacinth, a plant with a fragrant cluster of flowers.

The line, “I see the bathroom is clear” could refer to the bathroom in the studio where the song “L.A. Woman” was recorded. At the time, Jim Morrison insisted on recording the vocal track remotely from the bathroom rather than in the studio with the rest of the band.

The song was written at guitarist Robby Krieger’s house, which inspired some of Morrison’s lyrics with its flowers (hyacinths) and cats (“lions”).

Hyacinth House

What are they doing in the Hyacinth House?
What are they doing in the Hyacinth House?
To please the lions in this day

I need a brand new friend who doesn’t bother me
I need a brand new friend who doesn’t trouble me
I need someone and who doesn’t need me

I see the bathroom is clear
I think that somebody’s near
I’m sure that someone is following me, oh yeah

Why did you throw the Jack of Hearts away?
Why did you throw the Jack of Hearts away?
It was the only card in the deck that I had left to play

And I’ll say it again, I need a brand new friend
And I’ll say it again, I need a brand new friend
And I’ll say it again, I need a brand new friend, the end

Doors – Riders On The Storm

Riders on the Storm sounds like a song some cool jazz midnight DJ (WKRP fans…think Venus Flytrap) would spin in the old days when they actually could pick what they played. It’s a song to chill out to and I’ve always liked it.

The song is off The Door’s last album with Jim Morrison…LA Woman. The song peaked at #14 in 1971 in the Billboard 100, #5 in Canada, and #22 in the UK.

This song evolved out of a jam session when the band was messing around with “Ghost Riders In the Sky.” It was Jim Morrison’s idea to alter the title to “Riders On The Storm.”

This would be the last song Jim Morrison recorded. He went to France and died a few weeks later.

Ray Manzarek: “There’s a whisper voice on ‘Riders on the Storm,’ if you listen closely, a whispered overdub that Jim adds beneath his vocal. That’s the last thing he ever did. An ephemeral, whispered overdub.” 

From Songfacts

The song can be seen as an autobiographical account of Morrison’s life: he considered himself a “Rider on the storm.” The “killer on the road” is a reference to a screenplay he wrote called The Hitchhiker (An American Pastoral), where Morrison was going to play the part of a hitchhiker who goes on a murder spree. The lyrics, “Girl you gotta love your man” can be seen as a desperate plea to his long time girlfriend Pamela. 

As it says in Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend by Stephen Davis, in 1962, while Jim was attending Florida State University in Tallahassee, he was seeing a girl named Mary Werbelow who lived in Clearwater, 280 miles away. Jim would oftentimes hitchhike to see her. “Those solitary journeys on hot and dusty Florida two-lane blacktop roads, with his thumb out and his imagination on fire with lust and poetry and Nietzsche and God knows what else – taking chances on redneck truckers, fugitive homos, and predatory cruisers – left an indelible psychic scar on Jimmy, whose notebooks began to obsessively feature scrawls and drawings of a lone hitchhiker, an existential traveler, faceless and dangerous, a drifting stranger with violent fantasies, a mystery tramp: the killer on the road.” 

The Doors brought in bass players Marc Benno and Jerry Scheff to play on the album. Scheff came up with the distinctive bass line after Manzarek played him what he had in mind on his keyboard. It took a while to figure out, since it was much harder to play on a bass than a keyboard.

Ray Manzarek used a Fender Rhodes electric piano to create the effect of rain.

This was the last song on the last Doors album with Morrison. Fittingly, it ends with the storm fading slowly to silence. The remaining Doors released two more albums without Morrison before breaking up in 1972. In 2002, Kreiger and Manzarek reunited as “The Doors Of The 21st Century.” Densmore, who says he wasn’t invited to join them, went to court and eventually got a ruling preventing the group from using The Doors in its name, so they changed their name to “Riders On The Storm” after this song. 

The single was shortened for radio play. Some of the piano solo was cut out.

In 2000, the surviving members of The Doors taped a VH1 Storytellers episode with guest vocalists filling in for Morrison. Scott Stapp from Creed sang on this track.

Creed contributed a version of this to the 2000 Doors tribute album Stoned Immaculate. Creed also performed it with Doors guitarist Robby Krieger at Woodstock ’99. Krieger sat in on Creed’s “What’s This Life For” during the set.

Doors drummer John Densmore wrote a book called Riders On The Storm about his life with Jim Morrison and The Doors. 

Eric Red, the screenwriter of the 1986 film The Hitcher, has said that his screenplay was inspired by this song. He said in an interview with DVD Active: “I thought the elements of the song – a killer on the road in a storm plus the cinematic feel of the music – would make an terrific opening for a film. I started with that scene and went from there.”

When the 71-year-old Ray Manzarak was asked by the Somerville Journal in March 2010 if he turns up or turns off Doors music when he hears it on the radio. Manzarek said, “Oh, God, turn it up! Are you kidding? Living up in northern California, it rains a lot, so they play the heck out of ‘Riders on the Storm.’ And when that comes on, I crank that sucker, man.” 

When he recorded this song, Jim Morrison had already decided that he was going to leave the band and go to Paris, where he would die. Some of the lyrics in this song (“girl, you gotta love your man…”) relate to his love for his girlfriend Pam Courson, who went with him to France.

At the end of this song, there are sound effects of thunder, and the faint voice of Jim Morrison whispering, “riders on the storm.” This was envisioned as his spirit whispering from the beyond.

Riders on the Storm

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out on loan
Riders on the storm.

There’s a killer on the road
His brain is squirming like a toad
Take a long holiday
Let your children play
If you give this man a ride
Sweet family will die
Killer on the road, yeah.

Girl you gotta love your man
Girl you gotta love your man
Take him by the hand
Make him understand
The world on you depends
Our life will never end
Gotta love your man, yeah.

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out on loan
Riders on the storm.

Riders on the storm (X4)