Back door man...

I was talking with friends this weekend when the song “Back Door Man” (lyrics) came on the radio.

We then started talking about its meaning… I always thought it was a sordid tale of pedophilia. I started searching the web and came up with this, but it certainly does not qualify as a definitive explanation.

Anyone know the history of this song as it relates to the meaning?

Butt sex.

I always took it as primarily a reference to a clandestine love affair (with possible allusions to anal sex). I never in a million years would’ve thought of pedophilia, since the only thing to suggest that is the reference to “little girls”, which, lyrically speaking, one usually conflates with “young, sexually available women” and not “pre-adolescents”.

It orignally meant a man who came to the back door of a woman’s house when her husband was away. That’s pretty clear from the Doors’ lyrics.

“Eat more chicken” probably refers to oral sex.

In blues idiom, “back door man” has always been a fella that cuckolds another man, sneaking out the back door when daddy comes home.

Jim Morrison’s lyrics are lifted from Willie Dixon’s take on Back Door Man.

In Willie Dixon’s version, it’s clearer that it’s about a guy sneakin’ around with other men’s wives.

In the narrative of Dixon’s song, the singer has been wounded in a gunfight – presumably because he didn’t hear the damned rooster. :wink:

Anyway, the joke of the song is that, every step of the way, the men are out to condemn him, but their wives come to his defense: The doctor, the arresting cop, and the judge. Can you guess why? :smiley:

This is a traditional blues theme, and Chuck Berry riffed on it a bit in the euphemistic Brown Eyed Man:

Blues lovers hear Chuck Berry’s “brown eyed” and automatically know what’s being substituted to make the song suitable for mass consumption.

By the time that Led Zeppelin ripped off the line in “Whole Lotta Love” though it almost certainly meant anal sex more than just illicit sex.

Another vote for “no pedophilia, no anal sex.” “Little girls” is something the older blues guys said a lot, and ‘back door man’ has been explained.

My dad used to sing that song to me when I was little, except he changed it to something like, “Good little girls eat their carrots and peas.”

The way Howlin’ Wolf sang those verses always confused me…

I knew of the phrase from AC/DC’s dirty deeds:

If you got a lady and you want her gone
But you ain’t got the guts
She keeps naggin’ at you night and day
Enough to drive you nuts
Pick up the phone
Leave her alone
It’s time you made a stand
For a fee I’m happy to be
Your back-door man

From this I thought that “back door man” meant that he was supposed to sneak in throughthe back door and murder the woman, since near the end of the song he lists various means of getting rid of someone. Considering the other verses, though, I suppose him seducing her would fit the theme better. It doesn’t really make sense, though. Could someone explain the phrase in the context of the song?

woops, forgot a link to the full lyrics:

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

No, he’s talking about killing her. They’re just playing with the usual meaning of the phrase.

No, no…you’ve got it all wrong they’re obviously talking about “forty thieves and a thunder chief”.


When my son was about 4, he loved to listen to the radio with me, and sing along. One day we were grocery shopping and I picked up some item and remarked that it was pretty cheap. He looked at me and asked… “Is it dunder cheap?”

Took me a while to figure out exactly where he’d gotten that mangled phrase.


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I lived in Toronto for a year and a friend visiting sang “Dirty deeds, Dundas Street.”

If you live there, it will be impossible to ever look at a Dundas Street sign the same

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Interesting thoughts on the song. In retrospect, I am not sure how committed I was to a “pedophilia” slant, but did/do wonder why “the little girls understand”

The ‘eat more chicken’ line may just refer to the number of lovers he’s had rather than oral sex. I understand that an earlier term for a womaniser was a ‘chicken chaser’, and the sentiment is that you can have your meal, but he’ll have his chicken!

I still it’s about BUTT SEX!

Eh, I think every song is about butt sex. “I Love You, You Love Me?” Yeah, with butt sex! “I don’t know how to love him?” Well, I got an idea!

In “blues” terminology I’ve never taken “back door man” to mean anything other than being a lady’s illicit lover. Literally sneaking the lover’s sneaking out the back door when her steady/husband comes home.

I can see where some folks might think of anal sex but pedophilia? That’s a streeeeeetch.

I figure that the pedophelia interpretation comes from the use of the word “chicken,” which is supposedly pedophiles’ slang for a young boy.

Chicken is a popular subject in old blues songs. There are two paths of meaning, and they sometimes cross in the same song. (Crow Black Chicken, for example.) First, chicken has been slang for women (more graphically, pussy) for a long, long time. Musicians and showbiz guys have had a reputation for coming into town and scooping up other fellas’ girlfriends. “Hide your daughters” was good advice.

The other path is the bird itself. Before the days of mass-produced Tyson and Perdue chickens, chicken was a pretty special meal. Some folks had a small flock in the backyard for eggs and the occasional meal. When you had company, you sacrificed one of your egg-layers for dinner. Some gals might cook a chicken for a sneak-around boyfriend, too.

Dozens of songs and stories have been written about stealing chickens. (Such as Nobody Here but Us Chickens) Chickens were lost to foxes, but also to hoboes and travelling musicians. Not just them, either. In the comic strip, Sherriff Tait was always busting Snuffy Smith for stealing chickens.