People are strange when you're a stranger.
Faces look ugly when you're alone.
Women seem wicked when you're unwanted.
Streets are uneven when you're down.
When you're strange
Faces come out of the rain.
When you're strange
No one remembers your name.
When you're strange (3x)
[Repeat 1st verse]
People are Strange begins the second side of the vinyl album Strange Days, and serves as a introduction to the last half, recalling the main theme in a manner that I don’t believe had been yet done on popular music albums before. (I personally find it a more sophisticated way of building a whole out a group of songs than the Beatle’s Reprise of Sgt. Pepper.) As with some of the other cuts from Strange Days written about here, the song seems to be direct descendent of a cut from their previous album, this time Alabama Song by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. The cabaret sound of Lotte Lenya seems to have fascinated the Doors, and suggests that hippie culture might have had some attitudes in common with Roaring 20s Berlin.
The music offers a decadent soundtrack to a simple verse of lyric and a chorus, which are simply repeated during the course of the recording, broken up by a two verse-length breaks, the first featuring the guitar, the second the keyboard. As with Strange Days, Morrison sings of the paranoia bred by living outside of society, where either you’re considered to be insignificant or someone to be afraid of. To the larger society, a freak is weird, a threat; Morrison seems to feel that the people outside his circle are also weird and threatening. “Strangeness” is conveyed aurally by both the lead guitar and the vocal bending of notes at the end of some phrases, especially the word “strange” at the finale.
People are Strange fared better in the context of the album Strange Days than it did on the radio, as the follow-up single to the blockbuster hit Light My Fire. The Doors didn’t have a strong Top 40 aesthetic, and often miscalculated their songs as potential hits. (They did however score another number one in the Summer of 1968 with Hello, I Love You.)