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Back Door Man by The Doors

Album: The DoorsReleased: 1967
  • A Willie Dixon blues song from 1961, this has been covered by John Hammond Jr. and Howlin' Wolf, among others. The Doors decided to cover this after their guitarist Robby Krieger heard John Hammond Jr.'s version.
  • A "Back Door Man" is a guy who has relations with a woman while her husband has been out slaving away to provide for her. The usual guilty perpetrator if a wife was caught cheating was a regular tradesman caller (Ice Man, Insurance Salesman etc.). He would then run out the back door as the husband entered the front door.
  • The "Back Door Man" theme has been taken up in several Soul and Blues songs, including "Back Door Santa" by Clarence Carter. (thanks, Gary - Thetford, England, for above 2)
  • At a show at Winterland in San Francisco, The Doors stopped in the middle of this when their taped performance came on The Jonathan Winters Show. They watched the segment from a TV on stage, picked up their instruments, and finished the song.
  • In 2000, the surviving members of the Doors taped a VH1 Storytellers episode with guest vocalists filling in for Morrison. Former Cult lead singer Ian Astbury sang on this track. He became their new lead singer when Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek re-formed The Doors a few years later. Astbury told us: "I can really say that for me it was authentic. It wasn't something I was doing as a career move. It's something I did because I was an absolutely venerated devotee. I put them in a very, very high place." (Read more about his Doors experience in our interview with Ian Astbury.)
  • The Doors played a lot of Blues songs in their early days when they were playing clubs, but this is the only one they recorded until 2 years later, when they did "Crawling King Snake" on LA Woman.
  • The Doors performed this at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. The Doors didn't play well, as Morrison was worried about his trial resulting from a Miami concert where he was accused of exposing himself to the crowd. Morrison was convicted of indecent exposure, but died while the case was under appeal. In 2010, the governor of Florida granted Morrison a posthumous pardon after a fan requested a review of the case.
  • The Doors were playing this in New Haven, Connecticut on December 9, 1967 when Jim Morrison was arrested on stage for "giving an indecent or immoral exhibition." He was angry about being confronted backstage by police after he was seen in an allegedly sexual encounter with a young girl. When he took the stage, during the middle section of this song, he said this before three officers arrested him, making him the first Rock Star arrested in mid-performance:

    "We started talking and we wanted some privacy and so went into this little show room. We weren't doing anything. You know, just standing there talking, and then this little man in a little blue suit and a little blue cap came in there. He said 'Whatcha doin' there?' 'Nothin'.' But he didn't go away, he stood there and then he reached round behind him and brought out this little black can of something. It looked like shaving cream. And then he sprayed it in my eyes. I was blinded for about 30 minutes."
  • Jim Morrison left out lyrics from the original version about being accused of murder.
  • The Doors often opened their concerts with this song. Typically, the concerts ended with "The End." They rarely did encores. (thanks, John - Topeka, KS)
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Comments: 53

'backdoor man" simply means: busted, flat broke, outa work, no dough, bit the bullet. During the civil war negro slaves migrated north by underground railroad and got food from the backdoor of farm houses, hence the expresion "backdoor man".Bruce - Monterey, Ca
OK - Jim didn't write the song about what he liked or what he was doing...He COVERED it..He was singing an old blues song...written by a girl.Dave - Leeds, Mn
My first impression,about this song,He was reffering it as anal sex,but yes,it came also be the lover of a married woman,,,Jorge - Bronx, Ny
The "Killer Wolf" song by Danzig, Has a mention to this song!
In the line: "I ain't no back door wolf, I don't scratch at no doors"
Fabio - Sasssari, Italy
"Well the men don't know," part would easily explain the origial lyrics ,however, "but the little girls inderstand" clearly means that he was talking his personal preference for anal sex. I have been a huge Doors fan for 23 yrs...know all the music and have read most of the books on him and I am a "little girl" and I know for sure he is plainly stating he likes anal sex..infact he chose this song because he is broadcasting it like a beacon. Don't be niave. He was a genius but he was also very clever.Paula - Centralia, Il
Usally this song played fist then continued with Love hides then Five To One with all the same Bassline (Which is used in many other songs) And on the other hand I dont think this song BACKDOOR MAN means the nasty with men but means your wife is cheating on you) Led Zeppelin uses the word Backdoor man and there all Heterosexual SO......Jesse - San Antoino, Tx
The double meanings and double entendres are the whole point of the song. Jim just turned it around even further to express both the traditional meaning, i.e - "I'm a stud, I'm the guy who your wife's f--king while you're at work.", as well as alluding to his fondness for sticking it in said ladies' poopers. So basically Jim's a double stud, I guess.

The "pork and beans" vs. "chicken" lines are classic blues double meanings; i.e- in the "obvious" sense, the guy is bragging that all these housewives like him better than their husbands so they cook him the good food before their husbands get home, and their old men get stuck with the cheap stuff after he sneaks out the back door.

In the "dirty" sense, he's saying "Enjoy the once a week lay you get from your old lady; I eat more lonely housewife pussy in a week than you have in your whole life."
Bmn - Hisuan, Argentina
After reading the books by Linda Ashcroft and Stephen Davis, I do believe this song is to be taken in the other way; Jim, apparently, did love an*l sex and that this song was his 'self-confession'... The grunts and screams that usually open this song are downright chilling and animalistic, consolidating the sexual meaning of this song I guess... Its one of my favourites!Jarrod - Andamooka, Australia
Love Me Two Times is a modified blues, tough to say that they didn't record any until LA Woman.G - Potomac, Md
This song was not written by Robert Johnson! Although a few of Johnson's song's had very clever double meanings (such as Terraplane Blues), this song was originally performed by Howlin' Wolf and written by Willie Dixon.Roy - Granbania, Ma
I'm pretty sure that there was double-entendre in the original, and that the "chicken" line is a reference to - ahem - "those wot 'ave not attained the age of majority..." There's a kind of honest uninhibitedness about the whole song, which whether expressive of fantasy or not - well, I think that it really says something, man... I rate this song as being up with Millie Jackson's best, and the like (pretentious - moi? You bet)Kwesi - London, United Kingdom
Pam asked Jim after the Miami concert if he exposed himself, and Jim nodded 'yes' with a shy smile on his face. Pam said, "Why?" Jim replied,"I always wanted to see it in the spotlight baby." However, he really didn't show it.Michael - Jacksonvillw, Fl
Well this song is obviously about a man slipping in the back door when the woman's regular man leaves out the front door.But in Morrison's case one would have to think it also refers to anal sex because most of Morrison's biographies note his fondness for stuffing his large member into young ladies backsides.

As for Morrison exposing himself in Miami , drummer John Densmore ,in his book,says that is just a myth.Thousands of pics were taken of the Doors at that show and NOT one shows Morrison exposing himself...someone would have gotten that pic if it had happened.There was a politician who was trying to win a name for himself to get elected to a higher office who manufactured the indecency charges against Morrison and The Doors. By this time Morrison was too blitzed most of the time to really give a crap anyway.
Mark - Byrdstown, Tn
I love the Doors and the poet James Morrison,BUTT-pun intended-he could be a very naughty boy.
You can eat your dinner(tasty dish,have dinner down at the"Y")
-Eat your Pork & Beans (classic penis&balls ref.)
-I can eat more Chicken any man ever seen (puckered egg shoot)
IM A Back Door Man-anal sex & anallingus,OH JIMMY!
Bruce - Asbury Park, Nj
I had just turned 15 and landed my first concert tickets for EARTH OPERA and THE DOORS. It was at the Convention Hall in Asbury Park,NJ.The hall held maybe 2500 but was only 2/3 full of "greasers" and freaks.I was a little punk w/ a Nehru on-oh goodness. Earth Opera did great until they performed the Great American Eagle Tragedy,when the greasers took exception to Peter Rowan's classic anti-war song and flung garbage at the stage until the band fled and the stage was surrounded by regular and rent-a-cops,on hand to deal w/ a George Wallace rally taking place outside.It was Aug.31,1968 and this is how The Doors landed on stage.The first song was, u guessed it,Back Door Man. I sold my young soul to Rock & Roll that night.After a set of black leather crawlin and primordial screams,dark crooning to a band few have ever matched,it was time for the encore. The Greasers shouted for of couse, C'mon baby,Light My Fire but to my extreme pleasure, the last song i was to see Jim Morrison and the Doors play live was 'When The Music's Over.They turned out the lights,but my first concert has shown bright to me for 40 years!Bruce - Asbury Park, Nj
Robert Johnson was a poet in the truest sense and he used that talent to the utmost in his lyrics. Multiple entendre fuels blues lyrics -- check any of the great old blues tunes and you'll hear what I mean. Songs like Rubbin' On That Darn Ole Thang had little to do with washboards.
Johnson would be proud that folks are debating the meaning of Back Door Man though I doubt he ever considered anal sex as an option back then. James Douglas Morrison, the eriudite poet, wouldn't have lowered himself that level either, but you can bet that Jimbo made many a rear entry.
Armond - Neptune Beach, Fl
Well since neither Morrison nor Krieger actually wrote this song then they don't know the answer. The answer lies with Howling wolf, although Morrison did enjoy his anal sex.Andrew - Adelaide, Australia
I love Jim Morrison and the song. What ever it may be about, he is still one of the most sexiest rocker poets in the history of rock. Love the song.Shannan - Wilmington, De
ALLEGEDLY exposed himself, none of this was ever provenEric - Maastricht, Netherlands
All of The Doors have said Jim intended it to be about anal sex and in most of Jim's bios it will say that he actually was a "backdoor man" (which, apparently, caused a lot of problems in his relationship with Pamela Courson). Great song, even if The Doors didn't write it..."the men don't know but the little girls understand."Nadine - Riverside, Ca
The Doors did play this song in New Haven in 1968, and Jim Morrison was arrested that day, but not for "exposing" himself. He was arrested for "indecent exposure" in Miami, 1969. In New Haven, he was arrested because of what he said about the police officer who sprayed pepper spray in his eyes. - January 25 2007Steve - Brampton, Canada
In the lines "I eat more chicken than any man ever seen" does anyone else get the feeling that Jim was referring to orally "pleasing" a female? I mean if he meant for the term "back door" to mean anal sex, I won't find it hard for "eating chicken" to have a sexual connotation as well. If anyone were to do it Jim would be that person...Sina - Memphis, Tn
Howlin' Wolf did not cover this song, his was the original. Willie Dixon was the chief songwriter for Chess Records, but rarely recorded his own songs. There was one song that became a hit for him, but most of his songs were written for Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. He played bass on many of the songs that he wrote as well. Furthur more, on The Doors the credit for this songs read W. Dixon/C. Burnett, so Howlin' Wolf co-wrote the song. I don't have the Howlin' Wolf album, but it may just read Willie Dixon and the credit may be mistaken.Warrinder - A Town, Canada
Angela in Grandpasarus, PA: yes, Jim Morrison was a unique mind. Yes, he was talented. But Jim Morrison was also a VERY sexual animal. Arguably one of the most sexually-intense front mans (no pun intended) in the history of rock and roll. To think that someone can't have all of those qualities at once, is, in fact, obsurd. Or actually, absurd.Ash - Charleston, Wv
>As a friend of the Dixon family... no offence but wouldn't that mean you'd be the last to know!!! The Doors version is intended as a double meaning, a hi-jacking or whatever. The line about 'fried chicken' creeps me out. I watched the movie 'The Exterminator', where the Exterminator exterminates some sick brothel guy who's torturing kids... His slang for underage sex was 'fried chicken' I really do hope that is just a co-incidence. Nasty!Simon House - Bedford, England
The original lyrics are obviously about seeing a married woman during the day when her husband's at work. The back door is the actual back door. No double meaning was needed at the time, as this activity was as sexy and dangerous as was necessary. Adding an anal aspect would have hurt the focus of the lyrics. If you get your giggles by thinking otherwise, well, thats ok, but there's a real story being told here. To alter the meaning and somehow have every woman involved also, incredibly coincidently, be ready, willing, and able to allow anal sex, is absurd, and hurts the story-telling. As far as whatever ad-lib meanings Jim Morrison put in, who cares? He didn't write the song. On the -other- hand, the 'eats more chicken' reference obviously -is- a double entendre, referring to consuming the woman's cooking, -and- consuming the woman herself. This is obvious, ( "chicks", get it? ), and the homosexual assumptions are just silly. As far as the Doors version, they didn't write it, and can mean whatever they want to, just as all other mis-interpeters can, without it actually changing the meaning of real song.Mmm - Chicago, Il
As originally compsosed the song is about the suitor who comes and goes by the back door while the husband is out, but as interpreted by Jim Morrison all the lyrics take on a nastier secondary meaning. He was so clever. I've had a lot of fun with this song.Neil - New York City, Ny
It's bull that they rarely played encores! If you read the biography, ypu can see that (if Jim felt like it) they did encores all night long, 'till the break of dwan!Eric - Maastricht, Netherlands
This song is dear to me, my lover put on the door's best of cd and this song played the first time we made love.Dimitri - Oklahoma, Ks
Willie Dixon wrote the song in 1951, not 1961. The line "I eats more chicken" refers to the back door man getting the best food from the woman. The preceding line says "When you get home in the evenin' you gets pork and beans". Chicken was considered a delicacy in the culture at that time.Robert - Santa Barbara, Ca
So he is saying he likes to have sexual contact with guys, when he talks about eatting chicken?Angela - Nick's Bed, Pa
I know Willie Dixon's meaning was different from Jim's, but if you consider the line "I eat more chicken than any man ever seen" and that chicken means young man in Polari (gay slang) then I personally like to hypiothesize that Jim knew what free lovin' was all about...Marcie - New York, Ny
I adgree with Mike on this one, I think believing that BAck Door Man is about anal is obsurd. Jim Morrison had a high level of thinking when he write his lyrics. Do you really think it is about that? No way, think about it Morrison had a deep and unquie thought process.Angela - Grandpasarus, Pa
I don't think back door man had anything to with anal sex. That is just obsurd. I think the lyrics related to something else. Jim Morrison also had more to his lyrics, to me thinking about it being anal is too easy and I adgree with mike, it is childish. His songs have meaning I don't think he would write a song with a meaning that easy to figure out, the man had talent.Angela - Grandpasarus, Pa
Oh, and hail Robert also. Thanks, Sailor!Zaylyn - Dayton, Oh
I just bought the Tribute to Jim Morrison called No One Here Gets Out Alive, and it was put together by the remaining Doors. In it, Ray Manzarek(The Organist for the Doors) says that Its about Anal Sex. Flat out. He also says however, that it can be interpreted as a quiet man who doesn't much like to be seen, very shy. But I guess I thought it was a sexual remark, "The Men Don't know, but the little girls understand."Ayla - Edmonton, Canada
Backdoor Man was written by Robert Johnson in the early to mid 1930's. Another familiar song written by Mr. Johnson is Love in Vain (covered by the Rolling Stones).Sailor - San Antonio, Tx
The Doors opened their set at the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970 with BACK DOOR MAN, and it is featured on the bootleg "Palace of Exile." At the festival, the Doors followed Miles Davis, Ten Years after and Emerson Lake & Palmer, and the Doors were followed by The Who, Melanie and Sly & The Family Stone.Barry - New York, Nc
Shannon you got it in one. The original meaning may well have been about relations behind a husband's back, but Jim did love his "butt-f**#ing" as quoted in No-one here gets out alive, by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman. I know it might seem childish guys but the facts are there.Elysia - Hamilton, New Zealand
The description it gives is what the song orginally meant. If any of you really know anything about the Doors, you know Jim was an artist. He took a song and reinvented it to suite himself. Which just so happened to be his love of anal sex. Jim said so himself. And for Mike from Wales, Jim was a child at heart. He loved sex. Of course he would interpret it that way.Shannon - Hillibilly, Canada
This song IS about anal sex. It says this in all of Jim's biographies. The original song meant what is said, but Jim intended it to be about anal sex.Sumner - Paragould, Ak
Just give it a rest....Oscar Wilde once said that if the critics were arguing about what an artist meant or what he/she did not mean, then the artist was in accord with him/herself...That is because the critic is only an admirer and an exalter of the art world, not really part of it. Not to mention, what the artist creates will never be the same product after someone else interprets it. This goes for whether we are speaking of Jimmy or Willie here, doesn't matter...You are out of your league with this and it seems both Jimmy and Willie are in accord with themselves. Cheers!Zaylyn - Dayton, Oh
is there some sort of rule that says the arts can only have one meaning? gosh people!Sar - Iron, Mn
Alright, he did not write the song, so the meaning goes back to Willie Dixon. And at that time, the phrase "Backdoor Man" had nothing to do with anything like that. It was the term given to the guy who would run out the back door when a husband came home early and was going to catch his wife and the "back door man" together. Read the lyrics man.Logan - Abilene, Tx
james, just because its girls doesn't mean it cant be about anal sex. You don't think men and woman have anal sex?Tessa - Ottawa, Canada
give me a break randy and lane... I'm sure if he was THAT way he wouldn't make a song about it the way he did... The song makes sense in the hetero context: "the little girls understand". P.s. Nice name 'Lane', if you had written the song I wouldn't deny the accusations.James - Winnipeg, Canada
its obvious what backdoor man means-just look at the lyricsBrady - Fort Stockton, Tx
Jim was very much into being a "backdoor" man! It had nothing to do with 'houses'... knowing of Jim's "obsession" when I first heard it, I understood what he meant!Phil - Phoenix, Az
The Doors are the best band ever. Jim Morrison was a back door man!Desirae - Harrison, Oh
I have to take issue with a comment made about the New Haven, Ct. concert on Dec 9, 1967; I was at that concert and Jim was not arrested for exposing himself on stage. He was arrested for "presenting a lewd and lacivious performance" and he did NOT expose himself on stage. As to what he was doing backstage is anyone's guess; he did provoke the N.Haven police dept. that night. A man ahead of his time, Jim was.Gina - New Haven, Ga
As a friend of the Dixon family I can assure you that a backdoor man was one that came in and had relations with a woman while her husband was away.
Bo
Hamilton - Chicago, Il
I'd have to agree with Randy. Especially if you believe the stories of Linda Ashcroft in her book, Wild Child. She writes that Jim told her it was to be taken in the...ummmm...other context.Lane - Saskatoon, Canada
Hmmmmmmmmmmm I'm not too sure if that's the absolutely correct definition of a "Backdoor Man"-- especially in this context... LOLRandy - Beaumont, Tx