Behind The Song Lyrics: The Doors’ “Touch Me”

Perhaps no artist before or since has oozed the amount or quality of sexuality as The Doors frontman Jim Morrison. Shirtless, eyes looking into your soul, neck tilted, curly lion’s mane locks of hair—the guy had it.

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So, it’s no surprise that some of The Doors’ most popular songs share that same sexualized quality. For evidence, see: “Touch Me.”

Released in December 1968 on the album The Soft Parade, the track was written by The Doors guitarist Robby Krieger. The power rock song is beloved for many reasons, including its bright and brilliant horn section, which includes a sax solo by the Houston-born musician Curtis Amy. The album is the only one from the band to feature horns in such a prominent way.

The song hit the airwaves as a standalone single some 53 years ago. “Touch Me” rocketed up the charts to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the band’s last top 10 hit in the U.S. The next year in 1969, the song hit No. 1 in America (though it did not chart on the U.K. lists).

The Doors, which formed in 1965, functionally ended after Morrison died in 1971 in Paris from what are still disputed causes. No autopsy was done on his body. The band put out more albums after Morrison died and got back together with some shows, but without their frontman, sadly, it wasn’t the same.

Since Morrison’s passing, the band’s co-founder and signature keyboardist Ray Manzarek also passed away. Morrison and Manzarek are survived by Krieger and drummer John Densmore.

Bruce Botnick, a recording engineer who worked with The Doors, wrote in liner notes that the song had several working titles, including, “I’m Gonna Love You” and “Hit Me.” The original line was also said to be, “C’mon hit me… I’m not afraid.” Instead of the now famous, “C’mon now touch me.”

According to legend, however, Morrison changed the lyric, worried that potential drunken audiences might take the opening phrase as a challenge and attempt to literally slug him with a fist on stage or from a distance with a projectile.

At the end of the song, Morrison shouts, “Stronger than dirt,” which at the time was a line from an Ajax cleaner commercial. What a free spirit.

The song is B-flat-minor and in a 4/4 time signature. But more important than any of that is the feel of the song. It enlivens immediately. Morrison sings:

Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, babe
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?

What an entreaty! The song is one part rocker, one part strip club banger! Morrison continues, full, deep-throated croon:

What was that promise that you made?
Why won’t you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?

Now, I’m going to love you
‘Til the heavens stop the rain

With Morrison singing and shrieking, Manzarek tickling the keys, and the horns and rhythms bolstering the big beast of a song, the result was a hit through and through. It’s a testament to The Doors’ staying power and to Morrison’s charm.

And since its release, “Touch Me” has graced dorm rooms, rock clubs, bars, television shows, movies, and many other notable arenas.

In that way, it’s touched us all.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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