Strange Lyrics

‘Roadhouse Blues’ by the Doors is full of mondegreens, or misunderstand lyrics, mostly because Jim Morrison liked to sing this song when he got drunk.  The Doors took their name from a book written by Aldous Huxley in 1954 called The Doors of Perception that discussed his experiences with psychoactive agents; its title was an allusion to Blake’s 1790 work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, which contained the quote “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.”  Ray Manzarek said, “There are things you know about, and things you don’t, the known and the unknown, and in between are the doors—that’s us.”

The Doors recorded ‘Alabama Song’, which is also known as ‘Moon of Alabama’, aka ‘Moon over Alabama’ and ‘Whisky Bar’, and this is an English version of a song written by Bertolt Brecht and translated from German by his close collaborator Elisabeth Hauptmann in 1925 and set to music by Kurt Weill for the 1927 play Little Mahagonny.  Jim Morrison sings, “Oh show me the way to the next whiskey bar, Oh don’t ask why” and by the time Jim died he was drinking two to three bottles of whiskey every day.  He preferred Jack Daniel’s, but he wasn’t exactly picky, as he also drank Chivas Regal Scotch whiskey or Bourbon, but he also liked his beer.  One thing for sure is that whatever Morrison was drinking, he drank a lot of it and supposedly he died with a bottle of Bushmills whiskey in his hand.  When you consider all the cigarettes he smoked along with the weed, acid and cocaine that he consumed, it is a wonder that he lived as long as he did.

Jim Morrison wrote the lyrics for ‘Roadhouse Blues’ when he was inebriated and it is the first song on the Morrison Hotel album.  This has been called “the ultimate bar song”, because it sounds like a rowdy party.  The Topanga Corral a windowless nightclub nestled deep in the canyon, will forever be remembered as the place that featured an eclectic mix of performers like Canned Heat, Spirit, Linda Ronstadt, Little Feat, Taj Mahal, Emmy Lou Harris, Etta James, Neil Young and Spanky and Our Gang who all played there and it is rumored that Jim Morrison wrote ‘Roadhouse Blues’ about this place.  In order to get to this club you had to take Topanga Canyon Boulevard, which is full of twists and turns, thus you really did need to “keep your eyes on the road, your hand upon the wheel.”  Morrison brought his girlfriend, Pamela Courson who was born in Weed, California and died from a heroin overdose in 1974, with him to the club.  This could be what provided the line, “In back of the Roadhouse they got some bungalows.”

The Doors consisted of vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore.  John Sebastian from the Lovin’ Spoonful played harmonica on this song.  He is identified on the album as “G. Puglese”, because he didn’t want his name associated with The Doors at this time, because Morrison had just been arrested for exposing himself to the crowd at a concert in Miami.  Lonnie Mack a pioneer in rock guitar soloing, a talented regional roadhouse player that became known for launching the modern guitar era, played bass on this song.  The Doors usually did not use a bass player and they felt that the lack of a bass guitarist freed up sonic space and helped them distinguish their sound from other late ‘60s bands.

I don’t think that anyone can explain the strange lyrics that Morrison sings in this song.  “You gotta beep a gunk a chucha, Honk konk konk, You gotta each you puna, Each ya bop a luba, Each yall bump a kechonk, Ease sum konk, Ya, ride.”  Many people think that this has something to do with eating tuna, but I have found that most people will leave me alone if I repeat these lyrics to them.  Some versions of the lyrics say, “Ashen-Lady” while others say “Passionate Lady” and that is what I am going with because it fits the prompt.  The video that I have says “Ashen-Lady”, but I can’t figure out who would bring a sheep to a concert.

Ah keep your eyes on the road,
Your hands upon the wheel.
Keep your eyes on the road
Your hands upon the wheel.
Yeah, we’re going to the roadhouse,
Gonna have a real good-time.

Yeah, the back of the roadhouse,
They’ve got some bungalows.
Yeah, the back of the roadhouse,
They’ve got some bungalows.

They dance for the people
Who like to go down slow.

Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, all night long.

Do it, Robby, Do it!

You gotta roll, roll, roll,
You gotta thrill my soul, alright.
Roll, roll, roll, roll-a
Thrill my soul.

You gotta beep a gunk a chucha,
Honk konk konk,
You gotta each you puna,
Each ya bop a luba,
Each yall bump a kechonk,
Ease sum konk, Ya, ride
Passionate Lady.
Passionate Lady.
Give up your vows.
Give up your vows.
Save our city.
Save our city.
Ah, right now.

Well, I woke up this morning
And I got myself a beer.
Well, I woke up this morning
And I got myself a beer.

The future’s uncertain
And the end is always near.

Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, all night long.

Written for Song Lyric Sunday prompt Desire/Lust/Romance/Passion.

13 thoughts on “Strange Lyrics

  1. This is the road Gay Talese wrote about, that led to a “free love” community in that area. I wonder if Morrison is singing about it here. I love beer in the morning! Beats coffee every time.

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    1. I don’t know much about Thy Neighbor’s Wife, but I read it shocked the world. I wonder if he just wrote this book so he had an excuse for doing the research, which I am sure he enjoyed.

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      1. At the very end, he talks about it. I admire him tremendously for the years he devoted to researching it. I don’t think it could be taken seriously unless he had done “in vivo” research.

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