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The Doors - Alabama Song

Released in 1967. Originally written as part of the 1927 opera Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny.

“Right back at the start, when we were first talking about the film, I said to Simon, ‘We have to use Alabama Song!’ Because the lyrics go: ‘Show me the way to the next whiskey bar/ Oh, don’t ask why/ For if we don’t find the next whiskey bar/ I tell you we must die.’ That pretty much sums up the plot! And the line ‘Oh, don’t ask why’ also addresses the question as to why the characters don’t just get the fuck out of Newton Haven.

“The first version of the song was by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, but I became aware of it through the David Bowie version. We actually tried to use Bowie’s take in the film at one point, but it was too intense. And The Doors’ version has got that amazing, almost polka-like feeling to it, while still being deeply sinister. The late, great Ray Manzarek’s keyboard playing on it is so great. It sounds like a creepy circus tune.

“I was worried that This Is The End might use The End by The Doors, which they didn’t. And we were anxious for a while that we wouldn’t be able to afford the song: every time we’d show the scene, people would say, ‘The Doors? Forget it. You’ll have to find an alternative.’ But eventually we realised it had to be in there.
“The montage that Alabama Song plays over was timed very carefully to the music. We had it playing on set, so the actors were walking in step to it and drinking in time to it as well. It’s not easy. I’d like you in the Empire office to try drinking a whole pint in time to the middle eight of Alabama Song — it’s really difficult!”

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