The Doors’ “The End” Lyrics Meaning

It should be noted that The Doors’ “The End” was composed while the iconic Jim Morrison (1943-1971), who sings and co-wrote “The End”, was highly intoxicated. Thus it is a bit incoherent, as in being centered on a number of diverse topics, as well as utilizing terminology which we have to conclude was part of the writers’ personal lingo. Even Morrison himself stated that that ‘every time he hears the song, it means something else to him”. Indeed it deals with so many different subject matters that a listener can discover new meanings embedded in the track that he may not have picked up on before.

Morrison also stated that when originally conceptualized, “The End” served as “a simple goodbye song”, as in a breakup track. This is the narrative which the chorus and the first two verses in particular seem to be focused on – the singer abruptly disassociating himself from his closest “friend” and in the process anticipating that person will face a troubled future (the latter in reference in the second verse).

The succeeding verses are heavily-symbolic and once again are open to interpretation. In other words, trying to make too much sense out of them may prove to be a fool’s errand. Indeed “The End” has attracted scholastic attention in terms of its meaning like few songs in American history. Yet there still has not been a consensus on what it is saying.

However, there are some general themes which can be derived from the latter part of the song. For instance, it has an ominous tone, with the singer referring to “children [who] are insane”, “danger on the edge of town”, “weird scenes” and even recounts the tale of some dude who seemingly murders his own family. So it can be concluded that the singer finds himself in a challenging environment and is dealing with mental issues. It can also be theorized that what he is actually doing in these passages is negatively critiquing American/Western society, i.e. the lines “the west is the best”, which is obviously (within the overall context of the fourth verse) sarcastic in nature as well as the statement “lost in a Roman pain of wilderness”, which is the line that kicks off the third verse.

Theme of Death

It is also arguable that despite the various directions this song takes the listener in, its main theme is actually death. This theory is based on an interview which Morrison gave in 1969 in which he insinuates that the term “the end” is synonymous with death and also “is a friend” (the singer refers to “the end” as “beautiful friend” and his “only friend” in the chorus of the song). And while he was led into making that statement, it is obvious in the latter stages of the track that death is one of its major themes.

Conclusively, there are many different elements embedded in “The End”. Morrison also stated that he “could see how it could be goodbye to a kind of childhood”, which again likely alludes more to its latter sections. But he concluded by saying that he thinks the song is “sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery” and “that it could be almost anything you want it to be”. Or looking at this statement from another angle, the song is intentionally vague. And trying to derive a specific, concrete meaning from it may take away from it its ideal function of serving as an exercise in creative thinking.

Famous Live Performance of “The End”

The Doors performed “The End” live at California’s iconic Hollywood Bowl in 1968. Many regard that performance as one of the most remarkable live performances of the song.

One of Rock Music’s Greatest Songs

 “The End” is one of the most-celebrated tracks in the history of rock music. For instance, Rolling Stone placed it on its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, ranking it at 336. Guitar World also gave it the distinction of being one of the “100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time”, where in that regard they placed it at number 93.

Accordingly the track has been used extensively in pop culture, most-notably by Francis Ford Coppola in classic war film Apocalypse Now (1979).

Another Version of “The End” Exists

There is another version of this song where Jim Morrison concludes the last verse by stating “mother, I want to [expletive] you”. This alludes to a Freudian concept called “the Oedipus complex”, which influences this particular section of the song, where an individual hates his father and has abnormal desires for his mother (or vice versa).

The Creation of “The End”

The Doors developed “The End” over a period of months while performing it live at a bar in Los Angeles called “Whisky a Go Go”. But ultimately, the song proved so controversial (specifically in reference to the aforementioned Oedipal section) that it got them fired from the gig. This occurred on 21 August 1966, after they had been playing there for approximately three months.

The members of The Doors – Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby Krieger – are credited with writing this song.

And “The End” was produced by their regular collaborator, Paul A. Rothchild.

4 Responses

  1. john lamb patrick says:

    IT is very complicated to evaluate the lyrics from a song writen in a confused state of mind (the drugs), in a difficult moment of their lives. Who are we now writing a song that will be “read” some twenty years from now? Maybe we should join a group of psycologists, psiquiatrics and then listen to their opinion. But it still should remain an opinion. This is true for everything we read, wroten 5, 10 or more years ago.

  2. Scott Kidd says:

    I saw on tik tok a video, that said, Jim was dating some girl in Clearwater FL, something about the beach and the pier? and he had a choice to leave this girl.. The song was about the girl he loved and left behind in “Clearwater, florida” .. They showed a picture of her, dont know about this but Found it interesting.

    • Argyro A. says:

      Mary Werbelow. She was Jim’s first love, were dating for 3 years. She was from Florida, moved in L.A to be with him, he cheated on her but she forgave him, when he started using drugs she told him she wanted to be alone for a while, eventually she moved to India and three tears after, Jim died. They never saw each other

  3. Abstract noun says:

    We could go a bit Nostradamic.

    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

    [Verse 2]
    Can you picture what will be?
    So limitless and free
    Desperately in need
    Of some stranger’s hand
    In a desperate land

    Computers, screens, joystick, mouse. games, half-life Counterstrike CS 3d games inbeginning)

    He asks about the future, and then if looked at the rest of the verse 2 as it is about computers and games, it actually tells of the products and games and all what the net is today, desperate for a users hand. U see?

    In networking jargon, a computer connected to a computer network is sometimes referred to as an end system or end station, because it sits at the edge of the network. The end user directly interacts with an end system that provides information or services.

    The verse 2 turns the sight to future, then flips to products desperate and so on.

    The word desperate, plays different roles. The verse 2 already tricks between it meaning a desperate person, or the thing being desperate, that he asks if we can picture.

    If you look at the thing, as the internet, cyber space, games the word desperate has different meanings in:

    “desperately needs” – Of conditions, “extremely serious,” from 1550s (For the industry desperate means this)

    “A strangers hand” – Of actions, “done or RESORTED to without regard for consequences,” 1570s A hand can stay “a STRANGER”, in cyberspace (here it needs a hand of action, but at the same time the hand stays still, as a strangers hand)

    desperate land – Here if one plays with the word RESORT.
    “The last resort”
    “to go to (someone) for aid,” from Old French resortir

    RE-SORTIR
    from Vulgar Latin *surctire, from Latin surrectus, past participle of surgere “rise up” see SURGE

    SURGE
    late 15c., “fountain, stream,” of uncertain origin, probably from French sourge-, stem of sourdre “to rise, swell,” from Latin surgere “to rise, arise, get up, mount up, ascend; attack,” contraction of surrigere, from assimilated form of sub “up from below” (see sub-) + regere “to keep straight, guide” (from PIE root *reg- “move in a straight line,” with derivatives meaning “to direct in a straight line,” thus “to lead, rule”). Meaning “high, rolling swell of water” is from 1520s; figurative sense of “excited rising up” (as of feelings) is from 1510s.

    Here, i find the connections to “surfing” “source” and the reg pieroot gets one, “to picture what will be” 🙂

    Now that we are in latin…

    Verse 3]
    Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain
    And all the children are insane
    All the children are insane
    Waiting for the summer rain, yeah

    Pain:
    “punishment,” especially for a crime, “legal punishment of any sort” (including fines and monetary penalties); also “condition one feels when hurt, opposite of pleasure,” including mental or emotional suffering, grief, distress; from Old French peine “difficulty, woe, suffering, punishment, Hell’s torments”

    When he writes “Lost in Roman WILDERNESS of pain” one thing that comes up in my mind, is that the ending -ness is

    – word-forming element denoting action, quality, or state, attached to an adjective or past participle to form an abstract noun,

    Noun… in grammar, “a name; word that denotes a thing (material or immaterial),” late 14c., from Anglo-French noun “name, noun,” from Old French nom, non (Modern French nom), from Latin nomen “name, noun” (from PIE root *no-men- “name”)

    -ness creates a abstract, noun. This tells me of a time, joyful time, gaming world, internet, thats were they are “lost”.

    So wilder-ness of pain.. I feel that it is a place with no pain.

    The meaning in philosophy, “withdrawn or separated from material objects or practical matters” (opposed to concrete) is from mid-15c.

    Beam me up scotty
    We could go a bit Nostradamic.

    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

    [Verse 2]
    Can you picture what will be?
    So limitless and free
    Desperately in need
    Of some stranger’s hand
    In a desperate land

    Computers, screens, joystick, mouse. games, half-life Counterstrike CS 3d games inbeginning)

    He asks about the future, and then if looked at the rest of the verse 2 as it is about computers and games, it actually tells of the products and games and all what the net is today, desperate for a users hand. U see?

    In networking jargon, a computer connected to a computer network is sometimes referred to as an end system or end station, because it sits at the edge of the network. The end user directly interacts with an end system that provides information or services.

    The verse 2 turns the sight to future, then flips to products desperate and so on.

    The word desperate, plays different roles. The verse 2 already tricks between it meaning a desperate person, or the thing being desperate, that he asks if we can picture.

    If you look at the thing, as the internet, cyber space, games the word desperate has different meanings in:

    “desperately needs” – Of conditions, “extremely serious,” from 1550s (For the industry desperate means this)

    “A strangers hand” – Of actions, “done or RESORTED to without regard for consequences,” 1570s A hand can stay “a STRANGER”, in cyberspace (here it needs a hand of action, but at the same time the hand stays still, as a strangers hand)

    desperate land – Here if one plays with the word RESORT.
    “The last resort”
    “to go to (someone) for aid,” from Old French resortir

    RE-SORTIR
    from Vulgar Latin *surctire, from Latin surrectus, past participle of surgere “rise up” see SURGE

    SURGE
    late 15c., “fountain, stream,” of uncertain origin, probably from French sourge-, stem of sourdre “to rise, swell,” from Latin surgere “to rise, arise, get up, mount up, ascend; attack,” contraction of surrigere, from assimilated form of sub “up from below” (see sub-) + regere “to keep straight, guide” (from PIE root *reg- “move in a straight line,” with derivatives meaning “to direct in a straight line,” thus “to lead, rule”). Meaning “high, rolling swell of water” is from 1520s; figurative sense of “excited rising up” (as of feelings) is from 1510s.

    Here, i find the connections to “surfing” “source” and the reg pieroot gets one, “to picture what will be” 🙂

    Now that we are in latin…

    Verse 3]
    Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain
    And all the children are insane
    All the children are insane
    Waiting for the summer rain, yeah

    Pain:
    “punishment,” especially for a crime, “legal punishment of any sort” (including fines and monetary penalties); also “condition one feels when hurt, opposite of pleasure,” including mental or emotional suffering, grief, distress; from Old French peine “difficulty, woe, suffering, punishment, Hell’s torments”

    When he writes “Lost in Roman WILDERNESS of pain” one thing that comes up in my mind, is that the ending -ness is

    – word-forming element denoting action, quality, or state, attached to an adjective or past participle to form an abstract noun,

    Noun… in grammar, “a name; word that denotes a thing (material or immaterial),” late 14c., from Anglo-French noun “name, noun,” from Old French nom, non (Modern French nom), from Latin nomen “name, noun” (from PIE root *no-men- “name”)

    -ness creates a abstract, noun. This tells me of a time, joyful time, gaming world, internet, thats were they are “lost”.

    So wilder-ness of pain.. I feel that it is a place with no pain.

    The meaning in philosophy, “withdrawn or separated from material objects or practical matters” (opposed to concrete) is from mid-15c.

    Beam me up scotty
    We could go a bit Nostradamic.

    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

    [Verse 2]
    Can you picture what will be?
    So limitless and free
    Desperately in need
    Of some stranger’s hand
    In a desperate land

    Computers, screens, joystick, mouse. games, half-life Counterstrike CS 3d games inbeginning)

    He asks about the future, and then if looked at the rest of the verse 2 as it is about computers and games, it actually tells of the products and games and all what the net is today, desperate for a users hand. U see?

    In networking jargon, a computer connected to a computer network is sometimes referred to as an end system or end station, because it sits at the edge of the network. The end user directly interacts with an end system that provides information or services.

    The verse 2 turns the sight to future, then flips to products desperate and so on.

    The word desperate, plays different roles. The verse 2 already tricks between it meaning a desperate person, or the thing being desperate, that he asks if we can picture.

    If you look at the thing, as the internet, cyber space, games the word desperate has different meanings in:

    “desperately needs” – Of conditions, “extremely serious,” from 1550s (For the industry desperate means this)

    “A strangers hand” – Of actions, “done or RESORTED to without regard for consequences,” 1570s A hand can stay “a STRANGER”, in cyberspace (here it needs a hand of action, but at the same time the hand stays still, as a strangers hand)

    desperate land – Here if one plays with the word RESORT.
    “The last resort”
    “to go to (someone) for aid,” from Old French resortir

    RE-SORTIR
    from Vulgar Latin *surctire, from Latin surrectus, past participle of surgere “rise up” see SURGE

    SURGE
    late 15c., “fountain, stream,” of uncertain origin, probably from French sourge-, stem of sourdre “to rise, swell,” from Latin surgere “to rise, arise, get up, mount up, ascend; attack,” contraction of surrigere, from assimilated form of sub “up from below” (see sub-) + regere “to keep straight, guide” (from PIE root *reg- “move in a straight line,” with derivatives meaning “to direct in a straight line,” thus “to lead, rule”). Meaning “high, rolling swell of water” is from 1520s; figurative sense of “excited rising up” (as of feelings) is from 1510s.

    Here, i find the connections to “surfing” “source” and the reg pieroot gets one, “to picture what will be” 🙂

    Now that we are in latin…

    Verse 3]
    Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain
    And all the children are insane
    All the children are insane
    Waiting for the summer rain, yeah

    Pain:
    “punishment,” especially for a crime, “legal punishment of any sort” (including fines and monetary penalties); also “condition one feels when hurt, opposite of pleasure,” including mental or emotional suffering, grief, distress; from Old French peine “difficulty, woe, suffering, punishment, Hell’s torments”

    When he writes “Lost in Roman WILDERNESS of pain” one thing that comes up in my mind, is that the ending -ness is

    – word-forming element denoting action, quality, or state, attached to an adjective or past participle to form an abstract noun,

    Noun… in grammar, “a name; word that denotes a thing (material or immaterial),” late 14c., from Anglo-French noun “name, noun,” from Old French nom, non (Modern French nom), from Latin nomen “name, noun” (from PIE root *no-men- “name”)

    -ness creates a abstract, noun. This tells me of a time, joyful time, gaming world, internet, thats were they are “lost”.

    So wilder-ness of pain.. I feel that it is a place with no pain.

    The meaning in philosophy, “withdrawn or separated from material objects or practical matters” (opposed to concrete) is from mid-15c.

    Beam me up scotty

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