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Break On Through (To The Other Side) by The Doors

Album: The DoorsReleased: 1967Charted:
  • In this urgent song, Jim Morrison looks to shake things up, a common theme in his songwriting. In 1966, he said: "I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing of established order. I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning."
  • This was the first song on The Doors first album, and also their first single. It got some airplay on Los Angeles radio stations after their friends and fans kept requesting it.
  • The original line in the chorus was "She gets high," 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. You can also hear the song as intended in the 1999 reissue of the album, which was overseen by their original engineer Bruce Botnick. He also replaced Jim Morrison's "f--k"s on "The End." These edits went over about as well as the digital revisions to Star Wars.
  • Jim Morrison got some of the lyrics from John Rechy's 1963 book City of Night. In that book, Rechy writes about "the other side" in reference to Hollywood. There's also a passage where he writes, "place to place, week to week, night to night," which Morrison appropriated in the lyrics:

    Made the scene
    Week to week
    Day to day
    Hour to hour
  • Robby Krieger's guitar melody was inspired by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band of "Shake Your Money Maker," which was released on the group's debut album in 1965. Krieger was a huge fan of Butterfield, and found himself emulating the riff when they were working on "Break On Through."
  • The Doors didn't have a bass player, so their keyboard player Ray Manzarek created most of the low-end sounds. On this track, he borrowed the bass notes from the Ray Charles song "What'd I Say."
  • In 1967, Jim Morrison did an interview with Hit Parader magazine where he said that he wrote this song while crossing canals in Venice. "I was walking over a bridge," he said. "I guess it's one girl, a girl I knew at the time."
  • John Densmore added the knocking drum sound by hitting his drum stick sideways across the snare.
  • The vocals are a mix of two of Morrison's takes.
  • 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 was likely the first billboard advertising a rock band ever displayed in that area, and it got lots of attention for the band.
  • This was one of six songs The Doors recorded for a demo on Aura Records while they were trying to get signed in 1965. Robby Krieger was not yet with the group.
  • In year 2000, the surviving members of The Doors taped a VH1 Storytellers episode with guest vocalists filling in for Morrison. Scott Weiland from The Stone Temple Pilots sang on this track.
  • This was included on the Doors tribute album Stoned Immaculate, with Scott Weiland on vocals.
  • As John Densmore states in The Doors Box Set, the beat of this song was inspired by Brazilian Bossa Nova like Joao Gilberto and Tom Jobim.
  • In The Doors box set, Ray Manzarek said this was the last song they played live. It was during the Isle of the Wight Festival in the summer of 1970. The festival occurred while Morrison was on trial in Miami faced with charges of indecent exposure, and the band got a special five days of recess to be in England and get back to US. "This was to be the first gig of an European tour just as Miami was to be the first gig of a 20-city US tour. We never got beyond the first date of either one," said Ray. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Nisio - Belo Horizonte, Brazil, for above 2
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Krusty the Klown sings this when he shows the crowd a tape of him when he was younger. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    bob - Laguna Beach, CA
  • This is one of a few Doors tunes used in Forrest Gump as Forrest becomes adept at ping pong, and the only one included on the two-disc soundtrack.
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Comments: 77

Interesting how on the one hand some of the bad language in today's songs was never acceptable by in the 1960s but on the other hand in the UK we are politically correct some of the words used in some songs back then would now not be considered appropriate.Graham - Astral Plane
The other side is a euphemism for the spirit world or astral plane and although inspired by LSD there is more than one way to skin a cat in others words u can tap into the cosmic consciousness by meditation or through mind altering drugs or other mind altering substances I am a Spiritualist and an Anthroposophist the doors were not the first to use mind altering substances to communicate with the higher cosmic consciousness its been around for many thousands of years it is well documented the famous oricle of Delphi used by ancient high preists shamens etc that these ancient greeks enhaled the volcanic vapours to bring on a trance and messages the priests received were intrerpretated by their scribes even today various tribes throughout the world use mind altering substances to bring on a trance like state and communicate with spirits I believe personally the line an island in arms a country in your eyes is a reference to atlantis and lemuria many clarevoyants claimed to be able to know of atlantis and lemuria from the akaishic records atlantis has only more recently been accepted as a real place that existed it was located on the island of santorini near Greece eart evolution is known to exist by science so they could not completely rule out lemuria as complete myth either more research is being done to find a possible explanation for lemuria I believe its possible Jim Morrison would have known about atlantis and lemuria he knew about Nietche a Germanic philosopher so possible he knew of atlantis and lemuria eyes that lied arms that chain us means when we know the higher cosmic consciousness and also know our own individual higher consciousness then not everything in politics science religion history etc is the whole truth there are so many half truths and complete lies and cover ups etc arms that chain is a metaphor for various organisations whether busynesses or governments or schools etc that have so many rules that are too strict they restrict free will that's what arms that chain us means over the top health safety for example can restrict freedom various organisations have over the years had too harsh rules and restrictions in place that do restrict freedom etc too much while reasonable to have some guidelines and rules some rules just simple restrict free will etc even made the scene week to week day to hour after hour could be one of many interpretations that if you are ruled by an organisation that has too many over the top rules and regulations and restrictions etc that are too strict over the top and restrict free choice and free will etc so you do end up making the same scene week after week day to day hour to hour and desperate for freedom desperate for a straight deep wide gate to escape I experienced this @ a place in the UK in Erith London you kind of go a long with the restrictions to keep the peace but one is not happy with it so Jim Morrison is quite right you really do find arms that metaphorically do chain us eyes that lie once you tap into the higher cosmic consciousness you know the truth as you perceive it that's what what doors of perception means a similar meaning to cosmic consciousness I myself can channel to some degree into the cosmic consciousness so I really do break on through to the other side I do psychommetry ( telescope into past information using clairvoyance) I don't use LSD though not recommended by either spiritualists or theosophists or anthroposophists as you have no way of grounding and protecting yourself you need to be able to ground and protect before and after channeling into the cosmic consciousness very bad to have ones head in the clouds feet must be firmly on the ground and protected from negative energies etc.Graham - Astral Plane
My comment was cut off. Where I left it was the point and counter point of the song. "We seeked our pleasures here, dug our reassures there" but still no joy or happiness because of a personal injury..."still recall the night we cried! Break on through to the other side". The endlessness of mortal time "week to week, day to day, hour to hour" and so on. "Break on through " take control, end the pain, find release, end the misery, there is nothing here that makes me happy.Robert Rudd - Utah
This is very obvious to me. Morrison was consumed with death. In this song, suicide. Every point has a counter point "the day DESTROYS the night, the night DIVIDES.Robert Rudd - Utah
Not to disrespect this great group or the their stellar catalog, but back then, if they didn't record exactly WHY/WHAT/WHO, as to their motivations/meanings of the lyrics - while they were writing; they were probably to "Lit Up" (Stoned) to remember later:):)

Songs mean what you think they mean to you.
Markantney - Biloxe
Oh, to have been around when this breakout song first came on one's radio!Cyberpope - Richmond, Canada
I am 63 years old and for the first time in my life just heard Break On Through as it was recorded (thank you youtube...lol)...Damn you Elecktra Records for taking it upon yourselves to impose your version of morality on one of the leading musicians of the 20th century. Worst thing is...until tonight I wasn't even aware I was listening to a butchered version of the song I've loved since I first bought the vinyl album in 1967.Graeme - Brisbane, Australia
You, Michael. GTFO!Sup Dogg - Portland, Bangladesh
Break on through refers to lsd. Breaking on through to the other side of the doors of your mind the doors of perception which is what lsd does to your mind. I should know my teens were haze of acid and cannabis. I think that is what made me the fan i am, i understood what they were talking about well more so Jim. I have been a MASSIVE fan since i was 14 and i'm still as mad today 18 years later.Marie - Durham, United Kingdom
anyone else play this perfectly on Rock band 3?Michael - Deridder, La
the bass in the chorus is crazy! made my best friend learn it and perform for meMichelle - Mcdonough, Ga
John uses a basanova beat on this song. I like playing the AIR DRUMS. www.ulphan38@yahoo.comReese - Some Were In Texas, Tx
i want that to be the last song i ever hear so i can break through to the other sideKevin - Ocean Grove, Afghanistan
Like many well written songs, this one can mean many things. It makes you want to listen to it again and again. When I was a drug addict I felt it was about getting high. Now that I am delivered from drugs, it takes on a new meaning. I have broken away from a drug induced state to a life of sobriety. Are you addicted to drugs ? Seek help. They are ruining your life. Eventually they will win and you will die. Where did drugs take Jim Morrison ? He was a talented young man, searching for answers. Drugs took his life. How sad.Russ - Hempstead, Ny
And then Krusty says "What was I on?" but they cut this out of the reruns which sucks.G - Potomac, Md
This was not one of the six songs recorded in the 1965 demo. The songs are:

1. End Of The Night
2. Go Insane
3. Hello, I Love You
4. Moonlight Drive
5. My Eyes Have Seen You
6. Summer's Almost Gone
Kyle - Chicago, Il
read "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" by William Blake. I did and I can definatley see the impact Blake had on Jim's poetry. It's all very beautiful-twisted.ilovejimmorrisonmorethanyoucouldeverdreamNady - Adelaide, Australia
In many ways "Break on Through..." defines the Doors and Morrison's shooting star phenomenon. First song on first album acts as a mission statement for the Doors. Jim imploring himself and us to break through barriers, conventions, b.s., etc. via any means available (creativity, mind altering drugs, etc.) Recurring musical themes are established - Sex..."everybody loves my baby", Poetic musings..."I found an island in your arms, country in your eyes", Darkness and vulnerability..."Arms that chained us, eyes that lied" and of course Death, also on the other side, in that you may die trying to break on through. The pace of the Doors through rock history and the pace of the song are frenetic. The Doors and the song expire after all energy is spent.Steve - St. Louis, Mo
I tend to agree with the comments on this one. Altered states of conscienceness through the use of psycadelic drugs. Listen to the Doors while stoned and Jim's lyrics take on an all together different meaning.Lance - Malibu, Ca
You can't go wrong with this AWESOME song by The Doors! You can make it mean what ever you want! This song is number my favwhen it comes to The Doors! =-bMyra - Chicago, Il
This is the one song that most people identify with The Doors prehaps even more so than "Light my Fire".

As to the meaning...who really knows? It can mean lots of stuff to lots of different people,which is one sure sign of a great work of art.Jim Morrison is a leather clad rock n roll god forever!
Mark - Byrdstown, Tn
I believe that Break on through has always been about breaking free from societies restraints and doing things that come naturally to us.Andrew - Adelaide, Australia
I am wondering how many Christians broke through
to the other side after drug use.? The born again
ones. Break on through does imply getting free from something............but what? Things they could not handle? cb
Carolyn - Austin, Tx
God I Love The Doors. Jim is my idol. The Song is perfect, both music and lyrics -- all of us should BREAK ON THROUGH TO THE SIDE OF --- paradiseDubravko - Kakanj, Bosnia
This song is (I think ) about losing yourself in the world of drugs...expanding your mind ...breaking through to the other side of your loose and carefree self...rolling along with your intoxicated mind and body...a wonderful song to turn up loud and get lost in !!!Nora - N/a, Fl
This song rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!Pougff - Manchester, Ms
The Doors got there name from Blake, just like Huxley got the name of his essay from Blake. The quote is from Blakes "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell." It reads, "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite." It goes on to talk about how man has closed himself up in his cave, and so on. But if you read Celine's Journey to the End of the Night, Celine talks about "breaking through to the other side of Life." The book is very dark, and the other side of life is the infinite. In Huxley's Doors of Perception, it talks about eating peyote, and discovering how much your mind is bounded by fininte structures, and you break those structures or "doors" and you discover that your mind can preceive anything and everything at the same time and it goes on and on forever, the infinite.Michael - Jacksonvillw, Fl
Dang, I though he found "poetry" in her eyes. I thought that humans stood at the doors of perception but poets actually went through. Jim Morrison was more a poet than a musician. He liked the tortured poets too, like Edgar Allen Poe and William Blake. He only ingested philosophy as far as the next high took him. This is a great song to clean house to.Lalah - Wasilla, Ak
the name The Doors is from the original idea that if we were to break through the doors of perception, we could see things as they really are. Aldous Huxley is saying that we can break through some of those doors with the use of psychedelic drugs. But yeah, I think the idea of breaking through to the other side is to break through to the other side of the doors and see what reality really is.Caleb - Tucson, Az
I'm reading The Doors of Perception, and it's actually about a theory that Aldous Huxley had that our brains actually filter realtity, and only with the use of drugs can we bypass it. I think Morrison was referring to breaking through it.Sheri - Newmarket, Canada
Stephanie- Jim says "She gets high" on the "Legacy: The Absolute Best of the Doors" alubm. It was the first time I had Jim use "high" in "Break On Through." I'm guessing they went into Ed Sullivan mode on the debut album.Matt - Pittsburg, Ks
doors are fricken amazing, im in love with them, i no so much bout them im readin bout jim and the doors called no noe here gets out alive, so u people really understand me and my love for the doors, remember to break on throughSteve - Winnipeg, Canada
i first heard this song in forest gump and have been a huge doors fan ever since getting more and more wrapped in their musicMadalyn - Greensburg, Pa
This song was my first exposure to Teh Doors. Later, I found my dads copy of "The Best of" double album, and there was much rejoicing. (Yeay...)Allen - Bethel, Ak
I always though the song was about suicideJim - Clarmore, Ok
I listened to this song backwards and during the part where JIm sings " she gets, she gets, she gets high!!!" Reversed, the " she gets" part sounds like jim is singing "(deleted)" every time he says she gets.Cam - Cambridge, Canada
I have always thought the song was about altered
states caused by drugs. I can see the leaving life and dying part too.
Joel - Columbia, Mo
In the one of the "Legacy: The Absolute Best" compilation, the "she gets high" line is restored.Jonathon - Clermont, Fl
This song is the best opening song for any debut album although I Saw Her Standing There by the Beatles would be a close second. Man may Jim rest in peace.Jimi - Reno, Nv
the doors are the greatest band ever. i have the movie and i watched it all the time. val kilmer was PERFECT for jim morrison. i watched it so much my mom took it away.Taylor - Barnum, Mn
good song w/e ever its about. i've heard many versions from an inderect drug reference to being about sex. either way its a good song!!! no1 will really know except for Jim and the rest of the doors. personnally i think its about sex but i dunno. i dont remember how i came to think that, i think i read it sum where. either way we can draw our own conclusions. thats the beauty of it!Michelle - San Diego , Ca
When the Doors of the 21st Century performed at in Charlotte NC last summer, Ian Astbury sang the likne as "She gets high." I still haven't heard Jim Morrison sing it though.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
Robert...the lead guitar player is my second cousin on my fathers side of the family!!! i think that it is awsome that people still listen to the doors...i love them!Tera - Salem, In
you know sometimes," house of the rising sun" from the animals really sounds like the doors eric and jim had a soundalike voiceZach - Philly, Ks
he says "You know the day destroys the night, night divides the day." not night destroys the dayJohnny - Venice Beach, Ca
Friedrich nietzcheNatsie - Bombay, India
This song is really awesome. It is definately a song that makes you in the mood to get up and do something. My favorite line in this song is when he says "When night destroys day" the whole song is just so so so kick a*&Angela - Nick's Bed, Pa
Jim got the name for the band from a book by Aldus Huxley called the doors of perception that he wrote while on mesciline (pure payote) and from a poem by William Blake. He also got some insperation for the name from a pholisopher named nitzhei (very wrong spelling... sorry)Hunter - Fayetteville, Ar
I have the version where he says she gets high. I really like this song a lot, it is a song that gets me hyped up.Angela - Nick's Bed, Pa
Censored stuff sucks. It makes me so angry for some unknown reason. Doors rule.Ashley - Moncton, Canada
That remastered version ROCKS! Especially the uncensored version of "The End"!Cameron - Irvine, Ca
There is a remix of this song on an album called Break on Through(To the Other Side)[Remix]. It's horrible.Mgjghh - Hghfghfg, Mt
If I do say so myself I think Jim Morrisen is the best Rock Vocalist of all time. He has the rich voice of Elvis Presly and the Crazy screaming voice of Mick Jagger. Although I think this is a close battle with Freddie Mercury, Rodger Daltrey, and Robert Plant close behind. But on the subject of this song it is in the classic movie Forest Gump, but I think the song is just about seeing the light in life and the darkness of deathDan - Lee, Nh
The Doors "Legacy", its pretty much like an "ultimate doors" cd, and well it has the origional viersion of "Break on Throught" And the first time i heard "She gets High" I didn't think it was him, i thought someone had screwed around with the tracks, but sure enough it is Jim. And now when I hear the version without it, its weird. Although I dont have real "The End". Id really like to hear that one.Ayla - Edmonton, Canada
In my opinion break on thorugh to the other side is about alternate state of consciousness.This state when you feel something..you feel it but cannot express cause words are insufficient to express.
The state when you dont think you are,you just know that you are.I'm a part of the universe the part of "the snake" i will ride the snake to the end of the time.Its not about the drugs..the doors are not about drugs...psychedelics can only open a gate for you.
Wojtek - Lodz, Poland
Hey Peter from Providence RI the doors accually let i think it was Chevy use the Light My Fire part of the song in there im not saying that i don't like The Doors but i love Led Zeppelin to
- The Doors of Perception EP, Illinois
Nick - Evergreen Park, Il
As John Densmore states at page 35 from the book of The Doors Box Set, the beat of this song was inspirated by brazilian Bossa Nova, like João Gilberto and Tom Jobim. I guess that the guys were in Venice but imagine themselves at Copacabana beach...
As Ray Manzarek states on the earlier page, this song was the last live record of the group, during the Isly of the Weight Festival, in the summer of 1970. The festival occurs during the Miami trial, and the band gets a special five days of recess to be in England and get back to US. "This was to be the first gig of an European tour just as Miami was to be the first gig of 20-city US tour. We never got beyond the first date of either one", said Ray.
And I also agree with Lizard King, Kenneth, Sara and Simon: this is a good song that illustrated the image of Blake´s verse and then Huxley´s title which inspires the group´s name.
NÃ?sio - Belo Horizonte, Brazil
what a great song! Btw, I never heard the "She gets high" line, but I might not have the right version.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
Hey Folks! Wanna blow your
In 1963, Jazz Organist JIMMY
SMITH, had a cool instro
version of the Ray Charles
song "WHA'D I SAY"

The beginning organ riff is
identical to "Break On Through" !
Betcha Ray Manzerak had all his LPs!
Steve - Salt Lake City, Ut
definitly a drug song ,breaking through the barrier that only drugs can break, "breaking through the doors"James - Pacific, Mo
well i'm not the most knowledgeable doors fan, in fact i'm quite new. but my exboyfriend was really into them and what he told me about them and jim i think the song is breaking through to the "other side" of consciousness (whatever that is, he tried to argue with me about it) apparently reachable through intense psychadelic drug use.Sara - Birmingham, Al
"Break through to the other side" can also be seen as a drug reference. Specifically, when it comes to hallucinogens, you need to use a certain amount in order to "break through" to get the full effect and begin seeing/hearing/experiencing hallucinations. Taking less than this threshhold amount leaves the user with merely a slightly altered perception of reality. This interpretation helps put the rest of the lyrics, some of which may seem a bit trippy ("arms that chain us," "the gate is straight, deep, and wide," etc.) and the "she gets high" lyric into perspective.Sam - Champaign, Il
If you buy the remastered version of "The Doors",you'll hear the original versions of Break On Through and The End.It was wild to hear Jim saying F..k,f..ck during the End.And ..the lady gets high is on Break On Through.If you want to see something radical..www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/VideoFilm2/video.cfm?VID=22.It's a commercial with a clean cut Jim MOrrison in 1964.Mike - Seatac, Wa
Let Morrison speak for himself: "A person has to be willing to give up everything -- not just wealth. All the bull**** he's been taught -- all society's brainwashing. You have to let go of all that to get to the other side."Sar - Iron, Mn
I found a used copy of "The Doors" at a local music store so I went ahead and bought it because my copy was scratched. To my suprise, it is the uncensored version and in "Break on Through" he says "she get high". I was soooo happy because I didn't know Elektra even had the uncensored version on CD. Also, on "The End" after he says "mother, i want to.." the band goes into a jam and you can clearly hear Morrison say (over and over) "F*ck..F*ck me baby.." I thought it was so cool because I hadn't ever heard the TRUE version. So check out the music stores, because I think every copy they put out now is the uncensored. I could be mistaken, though.Majesta - Waynesboro, Va
think about this- we all know that jim morrison used to like to put in some sexual references in his songs, maybe this means to break on through a girls hymen...Teddy - Brooklyn, Ny
Forgot to mention that this song is used in Forrest Gump tooShana - Pembroke, Canada
The Doors do sell their songs cause in School of Rock the keyboard for "Touch Me" is used. P.S a great song and may Jim Morrison rest in peace..gotta love the guyShana - Pembroke, Canada
Hi guys. I won't say this is true for sure cause I'm not Jim Morrison, but I don't think he's talking about death when he says "Break on through to the other side." I think what he means is breaking through the wall of conformity and establishment, and having freedom of individuality and creativity, and not being held back by anyone else's standards (society's, or anyone else's)of acceptability. Rather than trying to run and hide from your own personal desire to rebel, just break on through to the other side and do whatever the f*ck you want to do. That's what I think the song is about, although some of the lyrics don't exactly fit that theme, Morrison was never one to write completely straightforward poetry anyways. But who knows?Yared - Winnipeg, Canada
Jim Morrison had a facination about death. This is the first of his many songs where he speaks of death. "Break on through to the other side." the other side is death. He just wanted to know what was there and what it was like. Apparently he found out.Karen - Dallas, Tx
This song was originally supposed to appear in the recent Cadillac commercials.But the doors of course dont sell any songs out. Cadillac instead used Led Zeppelins "Rock and Roll"..but as you can see the slogan is "Break Through"...its only obvious to assume it was going to be "Break ON through" had the rights been given.Peter - Providence, Ri
I am not perfectly sure, but I believe the quote is: "When the Doors of Perception are cleansed, everything will appear as is truly is; infinite."Simon - Stockholm, Sweden
On the new Legacy 2 CD Doors set and Very Best Of Doors, Rhino/Elektra Records dubbed back in the "She gets high" lyric since no one cares anymore about censorship for old rock n roll records.Robert - Chicago, Il
the doors of perception is also a book by HuxleySarah - Missoula, Mt
The band name comes from an adaption of a quote by Aldous Huxley. Jim loved the quote he changed it to "There are things known and things unknown, in between are the doors" and he said "That's what I want to be". Huxley's quote alludes me now, but it is more esoterric than Jim's version.Kenneth - New York, Ny
"the doors of perception" is from a poet,William Blake, That's where most of morrisons ideas came from.Lizard King - Fdfdfdfd, Oh
i think this song is about "breaking through" meaning leaving life and dying. I read a biography and it said he got the name "the doors" from "the doors of perception" (i guess it was a philosophy book). on one side of the door is life and the other side is death.Katie - Missoula, Mt
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