My dad always says if he had to play a single song on a jukebox, The End is the one because, coming in at 11 minutes and 40 seconds, he'll get the most bang for his buck.
This dreamy artscape of incest and murder is certainly the band's most controversial and probably the most disliked by all you Doors haters (you know who you are, and I'm still disappointed), but we Hagues know a good rock epic when we hear it. You say pretension, I say … ambition.
There is an amazing live version from The Los Angeles Hollywood Bowl in 1968 that Jim and I just rocked out to at “the end” of our evening. Morrison is totally wild: he yells at the light man for like 5 minutes because he won' turn the lights down, then riffs on subjects like silverware, grasshoppers, bachelors and their brides, and the way he wants to die (not in an automobile accident, but by being devoured by nature in a field).
My dad is so cool he heard it live himself when he took his sister Jennifer to see the Doors back in the day. My aunt threw a strand of love beads to Jim, he caught them and flung them right back out into the audience. Ecstasy can be so fleeting.
Also worth noting is Nico's laconic, tone-deaf version of this classic, one that many Doors fans abhor and really doesn't hold a candle to the original but wins major points in my book for being so creepy.
I have just been informed there is also a Nirvana version. Dad is so cool he also took me to the last Nirvana concert in the US with The Breeders and The Melvins. Sadly, Kurt and Co. unfortunately did not play this song.