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Five To One by The Doors

Album: Waiting For The SunReleased: 1968
  • "Five to one" was the approximate ratio of whites to blacks, young to old, and non-pot smokers to pot smokers in the US in 1967. It was also the amount of Vietnamese to American soldiers in Vietnam, although Jim Morrison said the lyrics were not political. (thanks, Coleman - Richmond, VA)
  • Jim Morrison was so drunk when he recorded this song, he needed help from the studio staff on when to begin singing. If you listen closely, you can hear someone in the background say "One more time" before Jim starts his first verse. (thanks, Jeff - wyckoff, NJ)
  • Morrison got the idea for this while waiting in the audience before performing a concert in 1967.
  • On bootlegs of live recordings, Morrison included the phrase "f--ked up" in the spoken word section at the end. He swore a lot at live shows, but the studio albums were always curse-free.
  • The part of the song about "Shadows of the evening" is an adaption of the Victorian-era hymn "Shadows of the Evening," whose first verse is:
    Now the day is over,
    Night is drawing nigh.
    Shadows of the evening
    Steal across the sky. (thanks, Jamie - Perth, Australia)
  • Robby Krieger recorded a version of this with Marilyn Manson for the 2000 Doors tribute album Stoned Immaculate.
  • In 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.
  • Jay-Z sampled this on his 2000 song "Takeover." The track was produced by Kanye West, who often uses old rock or R&B songs in rap records.
  • The lyrics, "No one here gets out alive" were used for a Jim Morrison biography by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman. (thanks, bob - Laguna Beach, CA)
  • Mos Def sampled this track on his 2004 release "The Rape Over" from his album The New Danger. Mos Def's song contains the bass line and drums with Jim Morrison's "Come On!" at the beginning of the track. Though "Five to One" is not a political statement per say; Mos Def's "The Rape Over" directly hits the capitalist blows against the minorities of the US. (thanks, Kay - Costa Mesa, CA)
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Comments: 64

One in five is four to one... listening to this song RIGHT NOW.Anna - New Oxford, Pa
Just before the line "...won't have long wait for me, baby..." at 3:26 you can clearly hear Morrison having a sip from his bottle of Courvoisier Cognac...Rutazzurra - Seville, Spain
I love the part with just Morrison and Krieger at the end. I've played guitar most of my life and still haven't figured out how Robbie gets that "snap" effect in his notes/bends.

According to Ray Manzarek's memoir, Jim was quite drunk when he arrived at the studio to to the vocal. Accompanied by a pick-up girlfriend, he dropped an additional handful of downers before stepping up to the mic. As the song progresses, you hear him sounding more and more drunk--yet he still nailed it, except for a missed cue in the "get together" section!
James - Los Angeles, Ca
everyone knows Jim always used political references &stuff like that, and that he was very much into rebellion, and chaos (just read some of his quotes) and at the time 5:1 was the ratio of young to old "The old get old
And the young get stronger
May take a week
And it may take longer
They got the guns
But we got the numbers
Gonna win, yeah
We're takin' over" Jim wanted to see the youth actually take action, and do what he believed was important when he says "you're all a bunch of f***ing idiots" and "you're all a bunch of slaves" "letting people push you around" "letting people tell you what to do, what're you gonna do about?" this is exactly what he means. REBEL REBEL REBEL cdull213@gmail.com
Cody - Lorain, Oh
Its ture. if listen to the recorded song on album "Waiting ro the sun" at the very very end you cant hear him scream 2 letters "B! J! COME ON!"Jesse - San Antoino, Tx
i love the trade in your hours for a handfull of dimes line...cause thats exactaly what me and my friends do one we get paid from our pointless after school jobs on friday :)Nick - Seattle, Albania
"They got the guns, but we got the numbers" has to be one of the greatest rock 'n' roll double-meanings of all time. When this song came out in 1968, everyone I knew in Berkeley laughed at this line--especially if they were passing around a number at the time!Bob - Berkeley, Ca
When Jim sings 5 to 1 the tone jumps from the 5th to the 1st note of the D major scale(A to D). which is ironic.Rich - Philadelphia, Pa
It is a love song - a love song for "my girl", a love song for rebellion - it's a love song about the possibility to "make it if we try" in love and in rebellionNynne - Copenhagen, Denmark
'They got the guns, but we got the numbers'. Excellent! I wrote that on my schoolbag. Watch those incomprehensive bastard teachers tell me to take it off!Sibella - Pretoria, South Africa
It was inspired by a fight he had with then girlfriend Pamela Courson where she said "You'll get yours you son of a bitch and I'll get mine". The five to one lyrics are a reference to Russian Roulette with a loaded gun, hence the lyric no one gets out of here alive.Sarah - Columbus, Oh
The bit about "Shadows of the evening" is an adaption of the hymn "Shadows of the evening". Its first verse is:

Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh.
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky.

Jamie Simpson
Jamie - Perth, Australia
The bit about shadows of the evening comes from the hymn "Now the day is over". The first verse is:

Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh.
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky.
Jamie - Perth, Australia
A comment to Ken from LaSalle about the guitar solo:

I noticed the same thing and actually found a fourt song w/ the same solo; "Damn Deal Done" by Entombed. I made a small sound file w/ the four solos back to back so you can listen for yourself, it's quite amusing.
I dunno if I'm allowed to post full links so I've divided it w/ three spaces:
media.putfile. com/DoorsKiss Pearl-JamEntombed -guitar-solo
Jo - Sthlm, Sweden
if you listen really closely you can hear Jim do a little burp in the 'Get together one more time' part, its a cute little burp too, I could listen to Jim burp all day...Nady - Adelaide, Australia
Jim stole the line,"Shadows of the evening" from Rimbuad.Michael - Jacksonvillw, Fl
This song was political......waiting in the back before going out on stage or whatever. I don't believe that for a minute!!!Jezebel - Lincoln, Mo
I Ask Jim about this song and its so predictable thas I m surprise that no one here could understand...five to one is a expression that means a masturbation and the resume all the situation in this world,...always have to be 5 to one; five fingers on dick,five poors one rich.Ariovaldo - Limeira, Brazil
Good god this song is good. I think the opening lines Five to one baby, one in five, no one here gets out alive now, refer to how Morrison felt about his co-workers, John, Ray, Robby, Paul Rothschild and Bruce Botnick against him. The second verse is yet another political sublime message and the third is about Pamela Courson's drug addiction. Get together one more time has definite sexual connotationsMatthew - Los Angeles, Ca
A couple of corrections for you guys. First of all, to whoever wrote about Pam and Meg Ryan....Pam had RED hair, not blonde.

Also, there is no answer to what 5 to 1 means. I read No One Here Gets Out Alive and Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend a few months ago and both said that one of the other band members asked what 5 to 1 meant, Jim said it was a secret.

To Lee from NC, Jim Morrison was not a hippie. You should know better.

"Your ballroom days are over" refer to the end of the Doors playing in smaller venues, like the Whiskey-a-Go-Go, which are called electric ballrooms.
Stephanie - St. Louis, Mo
To this song--and most of what Jim Morrison and the Doors did--I say, "Nice work if you can get it." This song doesn't say anything at all. It has a couple of lines that sound epigrammatic, but on the whole it's incoherent. But there are always people who think that if they don't understand something, it must be "deep" or "poetic." And you can always tell who such people are by their reactions to this song. If Jim was trying to be "deep," he was trying to convey something he simply didn't have. To me, he's the Charles Bukowski of rock'n'roll: If neither of them drank (or in Jim Morrison's case, took drugs), they would've become accountants or something.Musicmama - New York, Ny
Its awesome how drunk Morrison was when he recorded this, shakes things up a little bit at Elektra. This is viceral head music at its best, excellent guitar work.Tristan - Philadelphia, Pa
Possibly a Gang Bang, Five Man and one woman, Five Woman and one man, a Woman giving a Handjob etc...sexual always works it takes out the establishment and makes ways to believe in astrology???Only1out10livestr8 - In Your Uterus..., United States
Just a tangent thought: Meg Ryan played Pam in the movie and what a perfect role. Pam in real life was beautiful, with long golden hair past a gorgeously sculptered freckeled face. Meg fit it to a T. I envied Jim for many reasons, but none more than his relationship with the country's hippest beach chick.Eddie - Philadelphia, Wa
Venessa is right. I have read the book as well, and the song is firstly about Pamela and afterwards it can be defined, maybe, for Jim's political opinions. But we cannot be a 100% sure since The Lizard King does not walk among the living (or, for those of you who believe he's alive and breathing cannot be found), therefore we do not know. Perhaps he was drunk, high, in a hang-over, upset when he wrote it? Maybe he himself doesn't know. But I can bring an argument to my personal opinion from the song - "Ya walk across the floor with a flower in your hand, Trying to tell me no one understands" - I do believe he means Pamela, because in the book 'Jim Morrison [Life, Death, Legend]' there are many descriptions of Pamela trying to make peace with Jim after he was moody exactly as the line from the song says.
Long live the memory of JDM.
Noa - Haifa, Israel
Morrison wrote this song after reading a story about zombies. it is actually written from the point of view of the zombies as you can see from the lyrics. "they got the guns but we got the numbers, gunna win were taking over"Calvin - Kyle, Tx
actually the end version i have morrison yells fu** over and over about halfway through the songCody - Lititz, Pa
- Vanessa, Edmonton, Canada

haha i am reading that book right now, and i think it is EXCELLENT
Morgan - Long Beach, Ca
5 to 1 is actually an eight hour workday. Count it up if you want to. 1 in 5 people work them. He hated that. That's what this song is about. Rebelling against the establishment and the boringness and the drag of a 8 hour full time desk job.Jessy - A Town, Ks
5 to 1 is referring to Pamela's heroin. The heroin she bought was 1 part heroin and 5 parts filler. 5 to 1. "Trading your hours for a hand full of dimes".... hours were her pay from her job and a hand full of dimes was dime bags of heroion. This is what is said in Jim Morrison's biography-'Life Death Legend'-Awsome read if your a Morrison fanVanessa - Edmonton, Canada
The only way that the phrase "five to one, one in five" makes sense is NOT as a mathematical ration, but as a glance at the clock. That is, "It is five minutes to one o'clock; it will be one o'clock in five minutes."Mike - Brooklyn, Ny
around 4:15 in this song you can hear Jim yell "B.J." possibly connected to what Pam was doing in The Doors movie when Jim was singing Soft ParadeDustin - Carlsbad, Ca
Five to one is not the same as one in five, one in five is four to one.Austin - Holly, Mi
Rob and Lee are right. I think its about the younger generation taking over. Its tough to understand nowadays, but there really was a social revolution during the 60s.

Back then you HAD to conform to society, there was no long hair, pre-marital sex, or multi-ethnicity accepted in mainstream society. You either played by the rules or were passed over.

I think the 60s were the first American generation who were allowed to extend their adolescenc indefinetly. There was no REAL(ahem) war or Depression forcing them to adapt themselves to society. Hence they discovered that a lot of social rules were useless and rejected them.

We are reaping the rewards of this 2day...
Jack - Lowell, Ma
I think the voice that sounds like "one more time" before the first verse is just Jim's drunken mumblings that are common in most Doors songs.Ev - Tuscaloosa, Al
I was told this song was about the Vietnam war...the lyrics...makes sense that it would.
Five to one, baby
One in five
No one here gets out alive, now...
Good song though!!!!
Tressa - Eaton Rapids, Mi
Studio versions weren't alway curse free. While recording the end Jim sang "f** ck f**ck" several times right after the oedipus part, but technician Bruce Botnick managed to mix the album just as if Jim didn't say the f-word. It's not gone though, in the Apocalypse Now version this continuous cursing can be vaguely discerned.Eric - Maastricht, Netherlands
There is a theory that the "Illuminati" (secret government) who are gaining control of mankind intend on reducing its population by four-fifths in order to produce a sustainable dictatorship where the masses are sheep to be sheered for the material benefit of the few in charge. This conspiracy (allegedly) has been in process for many centuries and is closing upon us right now. It is rumored that Jim's family was connected to this growing evil, and that he was aware of the plans through his (military) father.

In this interpretation, "Five to One" are the chances of surviving the coming holocaust.
They got the guns, we got the numbers" refers to his hope that the people will prevent the tyranny of the old and the few. "Your ballroom days are over" is Jim telling the elites/aristocrats that the revolution is coming. "Shadows of the evening crawl across the years" refers to the centuries of conspiracy hiding in the shadows. "Trade in your hours for a handful of dimes" refers to the sickness of materialism that the elites worship. "You see, I gotta go out in a car with these people and..." refers to secretive way the conspirators operate (perhaps a memory of his father?).

The song, as any other, can represent truth on many levels. I find this interpretation to be eerily consistent and chilling. If it is true, I am sure "they" got the point of this and other Morrison statements. Jim did not last long, did he?
Brad - Indianapolis, In
Im just responding to the comment by Lee from LA. I seriously doubt that Morrison would write a song about a bible verse since he was mainly anti religion and was kinda part of the whole "Religion is an opite for the masses" kinda thing. but idk im sure weirder thing have happened, but i was under the impression that he wrote the song about the ratio of young to oldDerek - Nor Cal, Ca
I heard that this song was about the Vietnam War. Before they recorded this song, it was announced that American troops were outnumbered five to one by the Viet Congs. This is a great song by the way.John - Davis, Ca
Curse free my a**. As I posted on the songfacts for "The End", Jim says f*** at the most 20 times!Cameron - Irvine, Ca
I don't think I ever noticed Jim Morrison fall out of beat on this one. Given the circumstances though, it probably happened.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
Would anyone believe "Five to One" is a Biblical referrence? In Luke 12:51 (or 5 to 1) Jesus, elsewhere referred to as the Prince of Peace, declares "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:For from henceforth there shall be FIVE in ONE house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son..." This seems to fit the Morrison household, which had five members, and was divided considering Jim's father's background as a Naval officer, and Jim's destiny as a rock legend.Lee - Los Angeles, Ca
>> "Trading your hours for a handful of dimes": Jim was referring to Pam Courson in regards to her Heroin addiction, hence the slang of "dime", not for weed, but Heroin....need I go on?<<

Though only thing is...I've never heard of "dime" or "dime-bag" being a reference to a denomination of heroin...
D - Many, Ma
The sounds in this one is definetly different. I listened to it, and yeah like someone already posted, you can hear Jim fall out of beat. I think the slurring really adds to it.Ayla - Edmonton, Canada
"Five to One": Number of kids to adults by approx. 1970. "They got the guns but we got the numbers": The number of kids comared to cops (cops were 'beating' kids in the streets in the mid/late 60's. "Trading your hours for a handful of dimes": Jim was referring to Pam Courson in regards to her Heroin addiction, hence the slang of "dime", not for weed, but Heroin....need I go on?Jim - Kc, Ks
ya... this is a really cool song. it's obvious jim was drunk or high or sumthing during recording, think i'ma go listen to this song now, c yaBrandon - Saskatoon, Canada
Jim Morrison was intriqued by an anonymous fan's off-the-cuff statement directed at him that "Your ballroom days are over". This, of course, made it into the song.C.h.g. - Victoria, Canada
I love the sound of his voice when he's screeming "get together one more time"... just thought you'd like to know that...D - Many, Ma
I agree with you Cayle. I think it's a great song, too. I think that the fact that Jim Morison's voice sounds all slurry and menacing in the song, is great. That's if you consider the fact that the song is kind of menacing, itself.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
Yeah that dude who made the comparison to Modest Mouse is right. I heard Five to One after I heard Satin In A Coffin and the first thing I said was "Modest Mouse... THEY COMPLETELY STOLE THIS" like that Jet song "Look What You've Done" a good song but a total Beatles ripoffMampoop - Montreal, United States
he was supposed to sing love street the night he recorded thisLoretta - Liverpool, England
On the New Modest Mouse album..there is a song entitled "Satin In a Coffin" ..in it you cant help but notice that the drumbeat has "five to one" written all over itPeter - Providence, Ri
What's funny is that five to one is actually one in six.Fiona - Napier, New Zealand
Well, "The End" did contain the F-word, but it was a garbled screech that was practically (actually literally) impossible to understand.Brett - Edmonton, Canada
"drunker than usual" is correct. According to information taken from Ray's book, Jim showed up at this session with a woman, a huge bag full of pills, and absolutely no sobriety. He was on pills, pot, and a lot of booze. He grabbed a handful more of pills, swalled them down with booze, and jumped into the booth. Apparently they called the hospital to have an ambulance on standby. Ray says he nailed the song in one take (maybe two) and that the only mistake he made was that he was always slightly out of rythym on the "get together, one last time.." part. And if you listen to it, about two repetitions in, you can definately hear him fall out of beat.Matthew Desimone - Toms River, Nj
It's not true that the studio albums were always curse free, on "The End" it contains the line "Mother, I want to f--k you".Aidan - Boston, Ma
five to one - no one here gets out alive

he is great
Desirae - Harrison, Oh
Terri Lynn spoke oh "No One Here gets out alive" that book is not very good ... i read it ... and it is boring. the auther doesnt really seem to know that much about Jim Morrison, well he knows the facts and some stories but he doesnt know Jim. If you want to read a good book on the doors and Jim Morrison you should read 'Light My Fire" by Ray Manzarek. Yes the ray from the doors. Someone who knew Jim well.Beth - Kelowna, Canada
Word is, Morrison was very drunk when recording this one. Well, drunker than usual and that's why he sounds all slurry and menacing.Russ - Prince George, Canada
just as a side note, a fact that im sure most doors fans know... a lyric from this song "No One Here Gets Out Alive" is the title of the incredibly popular biography of Jim Morrison. It was released a short time after his death, but has been reprinted on several occasions.Terri Lynn - Heart's Desire, Canada
Funny thing about this song. The guitarist for "Pearl Jam" was interviewed by "Guitar" magazine. In the interview, the guitarist was asked about the guitar solo for "Alive". He made mention of the fact that he "kinda ripped it off Ace Frehley's (Kiss' guitarist) solo from the song "She"." Frehley was contacted to see how he felt about the flattery. Nonplussed, Frehley laughingly replied "I stole it from the Door's song Five To One.". And you know what? I'll be damned. I have all three recordings, and it IS the same note-for-note solo. Shows to go you, Eddie Van Halen was right. Rock and Roll is a bastard child, everyone taking from everyone else.Ken - Lasalle, Canada
This song has been affiliated in meaning with the Kent State shooting in 1970. While many of the lyrics in the song would correlate with the shooting, the song was written before the shooting ever happened.

The song is most likely about the anti-war sentiment with the youth against the pro-war views of the older generations at the time, talking of the youth taking over.
Rob - Tampa, Fl
the song is about the rise of the youth and the hippees. "they got the guns but we got the numbers, gunna win were taking over"Lee - Durham, Nc