|"When the Music's Over"|
|Song by The Doors|
|from the album Strange Days|
|Released||September 25, 1967|
|Recorded||May and August 1967|
|Paul A. Rothchild|
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.
In his book, Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend, Stephen Davis wrote about the recording session. Davis states that the final album version was recorded in September 1967 and that Morrison wanted the song to be recorded live in the studio without overdubs. However, states Davis, 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)..
However, a slightly different, first person account of the 1967 recording was provided directly by Robby Krieger in 2016. It was then that Doors guitar player Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore played together as a birthday tribute to deceased keyboard player Ray Manzarek. During the show, Krieger told the audience the story about recording When the Music's Over. The story began with Krieger explaining that Jim Morrison had called Krieger in the wee hours of the morning after dropping acid with his girlfriend. Steve Baltin reported that, according to Krieger, Jim and Pam "summoned him to their home, freaking out, where he suggested they go into nearby L.A.'s Griffith Park to get with nature and come down off their trip. As a result Morrison missed the session for When the Music's Over, so they recorded the track without him, only to have him show up later and want to add his part. So Morrison overdubbed his vocals. 'He got it in one take,' Krieger said."
The song can be divided into five parts, 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.