Song Notes: Moonlight Drive

Let's swim to the moon
Let's climb through the tide
Penetrate the evening that the city
sleeps to hide

Let's swim out tonight, love
It's our turn to try
Parked beside the ocean
On our moonlight drive

Let's swim to the moon
Let's climb through the tide
Surrender to the waiting worlds that
lap against our side

Nothin' left open
And no time to decide
We've stepped into a river
On our moonlight drive

Let's swim to the moon
Let's climb through the tide
You reach a hand to hold me
But I can't be your guide

Easy to love you as I watch you glide
Falling through wet forests
On our moonlight drive
Moonlight drive

C'mon baby, gonna take a little ride
Goin' down by the ocean side
gonna get real close
Get real tight
Baby, gonna drown tonight
Goin' down, down, down

Moonlight Drive came to Jim as he filled his notebooks early in the summer of 1965. JIm's entire musical training consisted of only a few piano lessons, but occasionally his words came clearly in the form of songs rather than poetry. If he concentrated hard enough, he could hear the whole musical arrangement - the concert in his head he later spoke of.

The first song to arrive in that manner was Moonlight Drive. Writing one night on his Venice rooftop, with a clear view of the beach, the surf and the moon before him, Jim created this wonderfully evocative invitation to a midnight swim - a swim to the moon - which ended rather mysteriously in either a watery romance or a suicide pact.

While we have all heard the story of the forming of the Doors later that summer on the beach, and the role Moonlight Drive played, the song also played an important role in bringing both John and Robby into the band. the lyrics to Moonlight Drive and Soul Kitchen were what convinced John to throw in with Jim and Ray at an early rehearsal. And it was at another rehearsal with Robby playing Moonlight Drive that the personnel was set. Robby's use of bottleneck guitar in the song sold Jim and Ray both - that Robby was the guitarist for them.

Moonlight Drive was recorded during the sessions for the first album, but perhaps because they were uncomfortable that first day in the studio, they ended up with a take they were unhappy with.

They shelved the song, and recorded it again during the Strange Days sessions. The song had a basic blues structure, but the band's knack for unorthodox arrangement turned it into something much more compelling.

Moonlight Drive was an early staple of the Doors' live gigs, and throughout their career, they continued to have fun with it. Bill Siddons remembers the song being played on a special occasion at the Doors Workshop during the rehearsals for L.A. Woman - "It was my wife's birthday, She loved Moonlight Drive - it was always her favorite. When she came by the office, Jim said "Hey Cheri, come on in, we've got something for you." She walked in, Jim stepped up to the mic, and they played Moonlight Drive just for her."

Copyright 2003 by The Doors, Chuck Crisafulli/

The Genesis of Jim Morrison's Poetry