When the Music's Over
|"When the Music's Over"|
|Song by The Doors from the album Strange Days|
|Released||October 7, 1967|
|Recorded||May and August 1967|
|Producer||Paul A. Rothchild|
|Strange Days track listing|
The track begins with a funky staccato strut from Ray Manzarek, playing keyboards, and John Densmore, the drummer, under which vocalist Jim Morrison can be heard muttering the invocation "Yeah, come on...". The intro is similar to "Soul Kitchen", a song from the group's début album. Following a few additional bars of syncopated instrumental banter, Densmore's snare flourish evokes a primal scream from Morrison – which is further accompanied by guitar runs by Robby Krieger. This foreshadows similar dynamics later in the song and is quickly evened out by a solid melodic repetition – eventually settling behind Morrison's lead vocals.
The 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, while the lyric "The scream of the butterfly" is a reference to a 1965 movie with the same name.
"When the Music's Over" was a staple of The Doors' live shows in 1966, when they were the house band at the Whisky a Go Go on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. It was not released on an album until a year later. During live performances, Morrison usually ended up flopping around on the floor. The song was usually performed as an encore.