"When the Music's Over"
Song by The Doors from the album Strange Days
October 7, 1967
May and August 1967
Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, John Densmore
Paul A. Rothchild
Strange Days track listing
"I Can't See Your Face in My Mind",
"When the Music's Over",
When the Music's Over is the last track of Strange Days, the second album by American psychedelic rock band The Doors
The track begins with a funky staccato strut from Manzarek and Densmore under which Morrison can be heard muttering the invocation "yeah, come on ...". Intro sounds similar to Soul Kitchen, a song from their début. Following a few additional bars of off-kilter and syncopated instrumental banter, Densmore's resolute snare flourish evokes a primal scream from Morrison -- which is further accompanied by some equally harrowing guitar runs courtesy of Krieger. This modest sonic flare-up foreshadows similar dynamics later in the song and is quickly evened out by a solid melodic repetition -- eventually settling behind Morrison's impending and ominous lead vocals.
Song is about how music becomes the only meaning of a person's life. The part where Morrison screams, "Persian Night! See the Light! Save Us! Jesus! Save Us!" is a reference to the Biblical Magi. The Magi lived in a caste in Persia. On the Christmas night, when the Jesus born, the Persian Magi looked into the night and saw the Star of Bethlehem. The lyric "scream of the butterfly" is a reference to a 1965 movie with the same name.
Song was a live staple in 1966, when they were the house band at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles. It was not released on an album until a year later. During live performances, Jim Morrison usually ended up flopping around on the floor. The song is usually performed as an encore.