[Intro: Here it comes.]
When the music's over (3x)
Turn out the lights. (3x)
For the music is your special friend.
Dance on fires it intends.
Music is your only friend
Until the end. (3x)
Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection!
Send my credentials to the House of Detention!
I got some friends inside.
The face in the mirror won't stop.
The girl in the window won't drop.
A feast of friends
("Alive!" she cried)
Waiting for me
Before I sink
Into the big sleep
I want to hear
I want to hear
The scream of the butterfly
Come back, baby
Back into my arm.
We're gettin' tired of hangin' around,
Waitin' around with our heads to the ground…
I hear a very gentle sound…
Very near yet very far
Very soft, yeah, very clear.
Come today, come today.
What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences and dragged her down.
I hear a very gentle sound,
With your ear down to the ground.
We want the world and we want it...
We want the world and we want it...
Persian night, babe!
See the light, babe!
[Repeat 1st verse]
The album Strange Days showed significant technical improvement over the simpler original Doors album, and was, according to various sources (such as Paul Rothchild, the producer of the album, John Metzger, music critic of the Music Box, and Jim Morrison himself) thought to be the next step after Sgt. Pepper in the exploration of psychedelic music. Reviewing the album in comparison to two other albums released about the same time, that is, at the end of the Summer of Love that Sgt. Pepper had begun, is revealing. Are You Experienced, looking back, was truly the “next step” after Sgt. Pepper. The future for psychedelic music turned out to be intense virtuoso performances like those of Jimi Hendrix rather than in engineering discoveries (as the initial engineering feats were now no longer explosively different but usually only pressing previous achievements further), or rather than in juxtaposing various audio cuts together into sound collages, as the Beach Boys had done in Smiley Smile. Strange Days was far more of a commercial success than the Beach Boys’ album, but less successful in the long run with the public than the initial shock of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Critics for the first time that I can recall were starting to tire of sound effects that had been used before, and only pushed a bit further or bent to a different tone. The Doors’ second album used psychedelic sound engineering to suggest weirdness / strangeness that strikes the 21st century ear as “gothic”, far from the childlike sense of wonder that the Beatles had sought to achieve by giving their audience unfamiliar aural experiences. Some critics have tied the experiments with sound by the Doors to their later use by such groups as Alice Cooper.
When the Music’s Over is an elaborate performance, built on, but tighter than, The End, and serves a similar purpose as the closing of the second Doors' album, Strange Days. It is obviously an effort to revisit an idea with more resources, and it is generally agreed to have been an improvement. Whereas The End had depended on raga to extend the trance, When the Music’s Over exercises jazz construction as if the accompaniment to a dramatic reading. A close listening reveals how much the listener depends on the simple basslines for the structure of the song, since upon the bare bones are hung such variable vocal and instrumental deliveries. Krieger’s 56 bar break on the lead guitar bends notes and glides along the surface of the song without touching the ground and suggests a ghoulish, scary scene, but Kreiger’s guitar can also be featured as the gentlest cry (of a butterfly) in a quieter segment of the song. Ray Manzarek also uses his keyboard skill, especially in the one break of Arabic flourishes appropriate for Morrison’s lyric Persian Nights! And who of the rockers were willing to end a song with such a ringing vocal crescendo, a roar?
I would like to remark here that music as a topic for song, the belief that music could change the world, is for the first time explicit in When the Music’s Over, though it had been an assumption in Lovin' Spoonful's Do You Believe In Magic? and in some the works of the Jefferson Airplane and the Beatles, among others. After When the Music’s Over, the dream of changing the world through music would be expressed through hippies over and over again (Eric Burdon & the Animals’ Monterey and David Crosby’s Music is Love come to mind), but the Doors have introduced it as a meta-idea, a turn of self-reflection similar to a writer writing about the power of the written word. I would also like to point out that the Freudian, psychological world (as reflected in The End) is in retreat by 1967, and When the Music’s Over turns its attention to ecological issues which were a new focus of concern at the time. Jim Morrison was one of the first to express ecological concerns, and given his grounding in American Indian mythology and religion, giving voice to the wounded weeping earth (the cry of a butterfly) sounds like more than just the next fad. Jim Morrison was (briefly) involved in motivational theater, trying to get his audience to act, rather than merely contemplate (as the psychedelic artists before him, with rare exceptions like Country Joe McDonald, were prone to do). Following the release of Strange Days, the Doors would produce the Unknown Soldier theater piece as a single, in order to incite anti-war feeling. But by the time the Summer of 1968, the Doors had moved away from trying to motivate their audience.
When the Music’s Over served as a precursor 1968’s Summer of Revolution. Gone are the peace and love and acceptance that continued to dominate 1967, and instead there is a demand that sounds very much like the aggression that would follow: We [the Youth] want the world and we want it now! The Morrison lyric explicitly rejects the other-worldly spiritualism of the Summer of Love: Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection! and does not shun association with crime: Send my credentials to the House of Detention! The answer to the world’s problems (as found in music) is to turn our attention to the earth, not the otherworldly. When Morrison roars Jesus save us! from the Persian nights (perhaps signifying the arabesques of psychedelia) he is being sarcastic. Jesus can’t help, only the creations of his own mind, or the creations of other human beings in the form of art, can soothe his soul.
In this collection, When the Music’s Over is the most successful effort of psychedelic music to create a “ritual space”. Very few psychedelic groups attempted it, though the Doors had pioneered the concept with The End. The only other group to successfully create ritual space during the psychedelic period was the Incredible String Band, but their ritual songs (A Very Cellular Song; Koeeoaddi There; Job’s Tears) were released at least six months later than Music’s Over. Though both groups created ritual space with lengthy songs composed of a variety of parts, and favored the droning technique, their intention was quite different. The Doors evoked pagan, archaic, primitive rituals (whether Greek—in accordance with the philosopher Nietzsche’s aesthetic—or Native American), while ISB evoked both the early Christian church and an amalgam of mystery religions in accordance with the concept of collective unconscious espoused by anthropologist Joseph Campbell and the psychiatrist Carl Jung. Less impressive attempts in this collection at ritual space might include the Rolling Stones’ Gomper, Dr. John's I Walk on Guilded Splinters (sic), Skip Spence’s War in Peace, the Beach Boys’ Feel Flows, and John Lennon’s Mind Games.