The song quickly became a concert staple for the group, a live version appearing later on the posthumous album An American Prayer and that same version, which has been called "probably one of the best live performances of any song", again on In Concert and Greatest Hits. During this version, Jim Morrison talks for a short while to a female audience member about his Zodiac sign and, with a sudden, ironic twist that causes the audience to erupt in laughter, denounces his beliefs in it. The song was also featured twice in the movie The Doors; the studio version in the film, and the aforementioned live version over the end credits. The line "Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer" was inspired by Alice Cooper as stated on his Planet Rock morning show.
The song took two days to record (November 4–5, 1969) with the producer Paul A. Rothchild striving for perfection. Several takes from these sessions were included on the new 2006 remastered album. Rothchild can be heard instructing the band members on their musicianship, notably when he exclaims to Robbie Krieger about his introductory guitar riff that "we're going to the roadhouse, Robbie, not the bathroom!" Surprisingly, he does not comment on Morrison, who is apparently intoxicated, "going into full blues singer mode" in the words of engineer Bruce Botnick, improvising and simultaneously flubbing several lyrics and repeating the blues phrase "Money beats soul every time".