Not To Touch The Earth

Album: Waiting For The Sun (1968)
Play Video


  • The lyric to this song is an excerpt from The Celebration Of The Lizard, a Jim Morrison poem that was going to take up the first side of Waiting For The Sun. "Not To Touch The Earth" was the only part of the 24-minute song that was compelling enough to put on the album, but the entire 133-line poem was included on the album sleeve. (A complete performance of the poem can be heard on the 1970 album Absolutely Live.)
  • Morrison cribbed the title, and also the line "Not to see the sun," from Aftermath: A Supplement to the Golden Bough, a supplement to the 1890 book The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. Both works were written by the Scottish social anthropologist Sir James George Frazer. Morrison got the lines from the table of contents:

    Chapter LXV — Not to Touch the Earth
    Chapter LXVI — Not to See the Sun
  • The lyrics, "Dead presidents corpse in the driver's car" refers to the assassination of US president John F. Kennedy. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bob - Laguna Beach, CA
  • One of Jim Morrison's famous lines appears at the end of this song: "I am the Lizard King, I can do anything."

    The singer adopted "Lizard King" as one of his nicknames.
  • A song called "Go Insane" on The Doors 6-song demo for Aura records in 1965 contains parts of this song and other pieces from "The Celebration Of The Lizard."

Comments: 33

  • Dave from UsaI take away from the song something about a Manchurian Candidate type theme. "Red are the arms of Manchurian chairs." "Dead presidents corpse in the driver's car." "come on along, not going very far. To the east to meet the czar." (Possibly Russian Czar)
    Just my thoughts.
  • Nick from GermanyIt’s about a man tripping out in the desert with a lizard.
  • Tom from MeppelI believe it's about secret societies. Lines like:

    The mansion is warm at the top of the hill.
    Rich are the rooms and the comforts there.
    Red are the arms of luxuriant chairs.
    And you won't know a thing till you get inside.

    The same secret society that removed Kennedy.
  • Bbj from Houma, LaJim Morrison came up with the idea to call the band "The Doors." The name came after a book by Aldous Huxley called "The Doors of Perception" written in 1954, that Jim was reading at the time. Huxley used a line from William Blake' s "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" for the title, "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite." The book by Huxley details the use of mescaline from the peyote cactus as a psychedelic
  • Quinton from Nashville, TnThe song is a real trip, especially when taken in the context of the entire "Celebration of the Lizard." "Not to touch the Earth. Not to see the Sun" are sub-chapters of a book called "The Golden Bough," which details ancient human mysticism, gods, and spirituality. The lyrics of the song consistently indicate a "higher" level of human consciousness, for example a "house upon a hill" and "the mansion is warm at the top of the hill." The line "you won't know a thing till you get inside" is essentially a reference to taking psychadelic drugs in order to pass through "the Doors of perception," a quote from William Blake and the namesake of the Band. It's no wonder the song has such strong trance-like qualities. It's a shamanistic metaphor for attaining an elevated state of being.
  • Valerie from Eureka, CaLol, lol. I have been reading the explanations people are putting on this page about meanings behind the lyrics to Not To Touch The Earth. I will say as I have on other songs' meanings...if you were not there with the song writer when he or she was writing the song you really have no idea what the meanings are unless you were in a conversation with the song writer and they told you what the the meaning to the lyrics is. I have heard so many young people speak about Morrison as tho he were a god of some kind. These folks are way too young to know anything about the band other than the music. They are not aware that Manzarek had to fill in at times when Jim didn't show up for shows...or that Jim had a 'slight' drinking problem. As soon as this kind of stuff came mout, there were no more Doors in any of the teen magazines of the day. Prior to that, Jim Morrison was all over the covers of these mags, and in most of the pages....when it was discovered he wasn't a cute teenybopper item that girls could take home and cuddle, he was off the pages. A couple other things I would like to add...the Doors didn't specify who wrote what songs. Many songs attributed to Jim were written by other band members. The scene in the movie starring Val Kilmer of the band singing on the Ed Sullivan show was exaggerated. Morrison didn't make any kind of big production into the camera when he sang the words 'couldn't get much higher'.
  • Valerie from Eureka, CaI was trying to find another Doors song that was never a top hit of any kind. It is Universal Mind. It has got to be one of the heaviest songs the Doors have ever done. It is on a live album of theirs. This band was so good...too bad they had the problem of Morrison being way too outside the box. I remember the first time I heard a Doors song. It was way back...gee I think the summer of 68(?) It was Light My Fire. That sold me on the Doors. Went in search of the album...found it. Loved the music. Thought Morrison was kind of strange but hey,I was into the music. I think the Strange Days LP was their best.
  • Denzell from Maple Grove, MnI am the Lizard King, I can do anything. Best part of the song.
  • Nady from Adelaide, AustraliaYves: it's because the movie isnt 100% accurate. Alot of whats in the movie is, well, bullsh*t. I doubt you'll find the movie version because it was sung by Val Kilmer. Best version I have found is on a 40th annaversery dvd of the Doors live at the Hollywood Bowl in 1968. Hope that helps.
  • Yves from Leuven, Belgiumi have a question : the version of this song that appears in the movie is not the same as the one on 'Absolutely Live". The guitar solo by Robbie is different and not as clean as the one in the movie.
    I'm looking for the film-version of this song, but can't seem to find it. Are the versions on 'Absolutely Live' and 'In Concert' the same ones?

  • Nady from Adelaide, Australia"Once I had a little game, I liked to crawl back in my brain, I think you know the game I mean, I mean the game called go insane. This little game is fun to do, just close your eyes no way to lose, and I'm right here, I'm going too, release control, we're breaking thru" thats my favourite part of the poem, it's so deep its just amazing.ilovejimmorrisonmorethanyoucoulddream
  • Mika from New York, Nythis song can only be really understood in the context of the entire Celebration of the Lizard
    i think it refers to an idea of William Blake's, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom."
    The entire "not to touch the earth, not to see the sun" section in the beginning to me refers to excess, as does the entire mid-section of the Celebration of the Lizard, bits like "dust under the beds of lawful couples, and daughters, smug with semen, eyes in their nipples" and about feeling "the good cold stinging blood"

    it's known that Jim read Blake, i mean the name of the band comes from a line from Blake, "When the doors of perception are cleansed, things will appear to man as they are, infinite." (that quote may not be exact, it's from memory) and the idea of excess is definitely nothign new to Jim Morrison (haha)

    now i'm not gonna go into every line and say "see, that means this, and that corresponds to the idea in this way" because it's tedious and it's possible that there is no one to one type thing...even likely, some of it could just be really good imagery, examples, or something like that

    and as for the palace of wisdom, that's how i understand the lines "the mansion is warm at the top of the hill, rich are the rooms and the comforts there" etc, about the "palace of wisdom" in morrison's own imagery, his own poetic voice
  • Rose from Philadelphia, Pafeeling trapped??????listen to this great escape song!!!
  • Matthew from Los Angeles, CaIt's a pity that the whole version of The Celebration of the Lizard wasn't released.
  • Mike from Windsor, Canadathis is one of my favourite doors song
  • Dane from Victoria, Australia"the ministers daughter's in love with the snake"

    the minister refers to a priest of secret satanic attatchment and the snake represents reptillian devils. its saying they both relate in reality if yu knew what jesuits were..
  • Andrew from Adelaide, AustraliaThis song is really weird. But here's something you probably didn't know. The verse "Dead president's corpse in the driver's car" was written in 1963 following the assassination of John. F Kennedy.
  • Tristan from Philadelphia, PaThe live version from Absolutely live is the best. It also appears in the movie. A song totally on the edge of insanity. Arguably the best on "Waiting for the Sun"
  • Only1out10livestr8 from In Your Uterus..., United StatesThe escape back to immature lifestyle, to run away from the mature borders the parents have set...
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlI like the scene in the Doors movie when this song is playing.
  • Em from Buffalo, NyThe beginning lyrics "Not to touch the earth, not to see the sun" are subchapters of the 60th chapter of The Golden Bough, a book about magic and religion by James Frazer. The 60th chapter is called "Between Heaven and Earth", with subchapter 1, "Not to Touch the Earth", and subchapter 2, "Not to See the Sun".
  • Cody from Lititz, Paactually robert from chicago i have legacy: the absolute best and celebration of the lizard is not on there
  • Taylor from Barnum, Mncelebration of the lizards is the most physcadelic song i've ever heard.17 minutes long. my favorite part is the not to touch the earth part.
  • Travis from Waterloo, NyIn early Christian symbolism, the snake was synonymous with heresy.
  • Jimmy from Troy, NyDead President's Corpse in the driver's car..........reference to Kennedy?
  • D from Many, MaThe recording from the "Absolutely Live" album is truly enchanting. That voice. The only thing I regret about it is that its missing those two screams included in the recording in "The Doors". One of the absurdly small group of singers who can scream musically.
  • Shawn from So. Portland, Methis song puts me in a trance every time i hear it. the best part of the song is the part where he says: Some outlaws live by the side of the lake ,the ministers daughter is in love with the snake who lives in a well by the side of the road wake up girl, we are almost home ya.
  • Dustin from Waycross, GaThis song represents,especially the first two stanzas, the feeling of release or letting go. Going Wild. running wild through the night. The lyrics make me envision jim running across open fields and through woods, hair blowing in the breeze and him inviting you to join him on his run. amazing lyrics
  • Jordan from Renton, Wathis song was in "The Doors" the movie when he was doing the indian dance.
  • Melissa from Baltimore, MiI envy jim's writing talent. His hypnotic voice, celebration of the lizard...masterful..I also insist if you havent already read it, to pick up Wilderness:the lost writings of Jim Morrison.Peace
  • Amit from Fair Lawn, NjThe original cut of "Celebration of the Lizard" is 36 minutes long.
  • Robert from Chicago, IlThis song is part of the 24 minute epic poem/music masterpiece "Celebration Of The Lizard." This song can be finally heard on both the box set and the 2 CD set Legacy: The Absolute Best.
  • Patrick from Durham, NcGenious
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Song Titles That Inspired Movies

Song Titles That Inspired MoviesSong Writing

Famous songs that lent their titles - and in some cases storylines - to movies.

Andrew Farriss of INXS

Andrew Farriss of INXSSongwriter Interviews

Andrew Farriss on writing with Michael Hutchence, the stories behind "Mystify" and other INXS hits, and his country-flavored debut solo album.

Waiting For The Break of Day: Three Classic Songs About All-Nighters

Waiting For The Break of Day: Three Classic Songs About All-NightersSong Writing

These Three famous songs actually describe how they were written - late into the evening.

Superman in Song

Superman in SongSong Writing

Not everyone can be a superhero, but that hasn't stopped generations of musicians from trying to be Superman.

Movie Stars In Music Videos

Movie Stars In Music VideosSong Writing

Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and John Malkovich are just a few of the film stars who have moonlighted in music videos.

Shawn Mullins

Shawn MullinsSongwriter Interviews

"Lullaby" singer Shawn Mullins on "Beautiful Wreck," beating the Devil, and his writing credit on the Zac Brown Band song "Toes."