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When the Music's Over

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"When the Music's Over"
Song by the Doors
from the album Strange Days
ReleasedSeptember 25, 1967
RecordedMay and August 1967
StudioSunset Sound Recorders Hollywood, California
GenrePsychedelic rock
Songwriter(s)Jim Morrison
Producer(s)Paul A. Rothchild

"When the Music's Over" is an epic[1][2] rock song by American rock band the Doors which appears on their second album Strange Days, released in September 1967.


Like several other songs from their second album Strange Days, it was composed before they had a record contract, being performed and elaborated in the middle of 1966 at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles. Especially in the early years, it would often be the opening song at their performances. One such gig was captured on the 2012 rerelease of the record and film Live at the Bowl '68.

The final album version was recorded in September 1967. Morrison wanted the song to be recorded live in the studio without overdubs. However, after being absent from the original studio session for the better part of 24 hours, he found that the band refused to rerecord the song, and he was persuaded to have the vocals recorded on top of the original take (which had Manzarek on vocals).[3]

Ray Manzarek was inspired by Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man when composing the organ intro.[4]


The song can be divided into five parts,[5] where the fifth returns to the lyrics and theme of the first.

  1. "Turn Out the Lights/Dance on Fire"
  2. "Cancel My Subscription"
  3. "What Have They Done to the Earth?"
  4. "Persian Night"
  5. "Return to the Main Themes"


The passage starting with "what have they done to the Earth?" is an early example of environmental themes in rock music.[6]


  1. ^ Weidman, Rich (2011). The Doors FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Kings of Acid Rock. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-1-61713-017-5.
  2. ^ "The Doors Posts". September 8, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017..
  3. ^ Davis 2005, p. 201-202.
  4. ^ Manzarek, Ray (1998). Light My Fire: My Life With the Doors. New York: Putnam. ISBN 978-0-399-14399-1.
  5. ^ Davis 2005, p. 198.
  6. ^ Davis 2005, p. 166.