The Doors – Break on Through (1967)

The Doors – Break on Through (1967)

“Break On Through (To the Other Side)” is a song written and recorded by the Doors. It is the opening track of their debut album, The Doors (1967). Elektra Records issued the song as the group’s first single, which reached number 126 in the United States. Despite the single’s failure to impact the record sales charts, the song became a concert staple for the band.

Twenty-four years after its original release, “Break On Through” became a minor hit in the UK after it was released as a single from the soundtrack album The Doors, peaking at number 64 in the UK Singles Chart.

“Break On Through” is an uptempo song notated in 4/4 time, and adheres the pitches of Aeolian mode. It begins with a bossa nova drum groove in which a clave pattern is played as a rim click underneath a driving ride cymbal pattern. John Densmore appreciated the new bossa nova craze coming from Brazil at the time, and decided to use it in the song. The track’s musical style features influences from mambo music. The bass line, similar to a typical bass line used in bossa nova, continues almost all of the way through the song.

Robby Krieger has stated that the guitar riff he played was inspired by the one in Paul Butterfield’s version of the song “Shake Your Moneymaker” (originally by blues guitarist Elmore James). In his autobiography, Ray Manzarek commented that his keyboard part was inspired by Stan Getz and João Gilberto’s bossa nova album Getz/Gilberto. Other sources have been identified as Ray Charles’s “What’d I Say” (bassline) and Them’s “One Two Brown Eyes”.

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