From day one, the Doors always wanted to make music outside the norm. As the rest of the California rock scene was tuning in and dropping it, Jim Morrison was looking to expand listeners’ minds differently, showing them the darker side of what the hippy generation was dealing with. Although the idyllic dream for hippies was to bask in the sunshine, Morrison was always drawn to the night.
Morrison already had songs written and fleshed out during the band’s first jam sessions. The only problem? He didn’t know how to play any instruments. Though a song like ‘Moonlight Drive’ was fully formed in his mind, it took the rest of the band to turn it into a proper song, filling in the musical ideas that Morrison couldn’t translate.
While a song like ‘Moonlight Drive’ reads better as a straight love song, ‘End of the Night’ was written around the people who lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Although Morrison came up with the melody on the spot, the lyrics are lifted verbatim from poet William Blake. Inspired by his generation’s beat poets, the bridge comes from Blake’s Auguries of Innocence, which features the line (via Songfacts), “Some are born to sweet delight, some are born to the endless night”.
For Morrison, music and poetry always went hand in hand. Outside the recording studio, some of the Doors’ first performances would morph into jam sessions as Morrison recited poetry alongside the music. This would often be where songs would form, like taking Morrison’s ‘Texas Radio and the Big Beat’ and turning it into ‘The WASP’ on LA Woman.
Though Morrison’s chilling vocals provide the backdrop for the story, the unsettling aspect of the tune comes from Robbie Krieger’s guitar. The arrangement of the song is primitive, but Krieger’s slide guitar gives a layer of menace to the track, almost like a ghost is caught between the grooves of the record.
While the band gained more attention after their debut album was unleashed upon the world, Morrison was only getting started. Across the next album, Strange Days, half of the tracklisting could be songs about people born to the end of the night. ‘Unhappy Girl’ details a woman’s life in her own mental prison, and the title track could be the unofficial sequel to ‘Night’. After spending so much time reaching the night’s end, the only logical next step is to end at ‘Strange Days’.
Despite its reputation as one of the Doors’ moodier tracks, a restless spirit is at the heart of ‘End of the Night’. Even on his debut album, Morrison was talking about the need to fade into the night and never be heard from again.
When talking about his music during an interview, Morrison mentioned identifying with these people on the wrong side of the tracks, saying: “the mood I get from most of it is a kind of a heavy kind of a sort of gloomy feeling, you know. Like someone not quite at home. Or, you know, or not quite relaxed, and you know, aware of a lot of things but not quite sure about anything, you know?”. Morrison never felt that comfortable as a rock god, but everything seemed to make sense when reciting poetry and performing music.