The Doors

People Are Strange

Composed by Jim Morrison / John Densmore / Ray Manzarek / Robby Krieger / The Doors

Song Review by

As with a majority of the material on Strange Days (1967), “People Are Strange” had been a part of the Doors repertoire circa their self-titled debut LP. Lyrically, Jim Morrison dismisses the standard pseudo psychedelia of the vast majority of concurrent pop music. In its stead, he creates an observational excursion into the human psyche set to an almost surrealistic vaudevillian melody. The Doors unique instrumental approach is one of the keys to their unequalled musical individuality -- likewise reflecting the nature of the band itself.

The cut originally commenced the second side of the LP and opens with Robbie Krieger’s lonesome and ominous three note prelude to Morrison’s verse. During the chorus, the pair are joined simultaneously by John Densmore’s restrained and even tempo drumming as well as Ray Manzarek’s highly stylised tack piano. This is punctuated by the abrupt stop-start rhythm preceding the line “when you’re strange”. After a repeat of the sole verse, the first instrumental break features a spirited, yet reserved, solo from Krieger. Following the second coda of the chorus, Manzarek’s lead is a bit more reflective of his adaptable personality as a keyboardist and his ability to effortlessly incorporate from trippy and languid psychedelia to a more grounded sound. A relevant case in point is the audible non sequitur of the ragtime/barroom tack piano that gives this track such an unusual balance.

“People Are Strange” was the a-side ( b/w “Unhappy Girl”) of the first single to be issued from Strange Days and it was the second Doors 45 to chart in the Top 20 -- peaking at #12 during the last week of October, 1967.

One of the most notable cover versions of the song was by pop-goth band Echo & The Bunnymen for inclusion in the 1987 teen flick the Lost Boys. On the other side of the spectrum, the ‘90s incarnation of the animated Chipmunks also included it on their A-Files: Alien Songs (1998) kiddie rock disc.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Strange Days 1967 Analogue Productions 2:12
No Image 1970
Elektra 2:10
The Best of the Doors [1973] 1973 Warner Bros.
Doors/Strange Days 1975 WEA International 2:12
The Best of the Doors [1985] 1985 Elektra 2:11
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 1991 Duchesse Records
No Image 1992 Warner Bros.
Greatest Hits 1996 Rhino
The Complete Studio Recordings 1999 Elektra 2:12
The Best of the Doors [2000] 2000 WEA / WEA International
The Very Best of the Doors [2001] 2001 Rhino 2:12
No Image 2002 Eagle Vision
Legacy: The Absolute Best 2003 Warner Bros.
Boot Yer Butt! 2003 Elektra / Rhino 2:30
Soundstage/No One Here Gets Out Alive 2004 Eagle Vision
Love Death Travel 2006 Rhino 2:12
Perception 2006 Elektra / Rhino 2:10
The Very Best of the Doors 2007 Elektra / Rhino 2:11
Doors Vinyl Box 2007 Rhino / Rhino/Warner Bros. / Warner Music 2:10
The Future Starts Here: The Essential Doors Hits 2008 Elektra / Rhino 2:12
Live at the Matrix '67 2008 Rhino 2:14
When You're Strange: A Film About the Doors 2010 Elektra / Rhino 2:10
People Are Strange/The Crystal Ship 2011 Rhino
A Collection 2011 DMC Records / Rhino / Warner Music 2:11
No Image 2011 Eagle Rock
Best of the Doors [Audio Fidelity] 2015 Audio Fidelity 2:12
No Image
Live at the Matrix, Los Angeles, March 1967 Kiddinx
No Image Elektra / Rhino 2:12
blue highlight denotes editor's pick