People Are Strange: Contemplating The Doors’ Classic (& Strangeness)

People Are Strange by The Doors
Weird.

Bit of a curiosity from The Doors here as we end the week on a musical number. People Are Strange was released as a single in September of 1967 (the band’s first single after the famous Light My Fire), so that’s 51 years back, and found pride of place on the Strange Days album. There was a quirky little video to accompany the quirky psychedelic rock number, too – so why not have a gander, you weirdo?

People Are Strange

With his ultra-handsome presence, singer and poet Jim Morrison drew a lot of screaming young ladies to The Doors’ concerts and music. But the band was always keen to avoid plunging into boy band territory and had a brilliant skill set far exceeding many contemporaries –  that’s more than obvious on this little ditty. Lyrically, we’ve seen some journalists class it as Morrison’s drug-fuelled paranoia. But we think it’s more a song about shyness and vulnerability.

His lyrics, for us, point towards a shy bloke (which will seem odd for some, given his looks and success) trying to break out of his shell a bit. “Faces look ugly, when you’re alone” isn’t about an LSD trip, it’s about unwanted loneliness and solitude. Although, sure, Morrison’s drinking and drug habits won’t have helped his cause there.

Backing up Morrison’s blues baritone, there was the fabulous Ray Manzarek. Hunched over his Vox Continental transistorised combo organ, and bespectacled, he was something of a counterpoint to Morrison’s tight leather pants, leather jacket sporting presence. He looks like a physics teacher, but you can hear his brilliant Vox solo at the end of the song showcasing what he was capable of.

Plus, we have the highly underrated duo of guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore. The latter’s jazz drumming skills are sharp and highly-focussed – as drummers, we can tell the best ones from a mile off. He’s understated but also powerful, complex, fun, and the perfect backbone for the band. So this group, when at work together, truly were a force of nature.

Strange?

"People are strange. They are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice." Mr. Charles Bukowski

Celebrating strangeness today, we’re also here to highlight Charles Bukowski with his above poem. A notorious oddball, and quite happily so, he spent his life ignoring conventions in favour of doing his thing. “I thrive on solitude”, as he put it. Whilst his beer chugging, overweight, gnarly presence is something of the antithesis of Morrison’s image, we’d like to think these two could have hit it off on some strange level. Maybe in a different dimension, eh?

5 comments

  1. I have always thought it intriguing how much the Doors reflected the whole zeitgeist of the sixties – the essential excitement that the counter-culture felt at their reaction to the world of their parents. Manzarek, I think, pretty much defined their ‘sound’ with the Vox Continental. To my ears, solo, that tone colour is a pretty cheesy sort of sound – and yet, with Manzarek’s playing and the band behind it, just fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a big Doors faze when I was 17 (in 2002), but took up listening again recently. Manzarek definitely deserves more credit for what he was doing. There are so many little inspired flourished in his solo here it’s fantastic.

      Like

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