Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lyric Review: People are Strange

Lyric Review

By JccKeith

It may be the understatement of the year but People Are Strange is also the name of a song written and performed by The Doors in 1967. It was supposedly written after guitarist Robby Krieger and lead singer Jim Morrison made a trek up Laurel Canyon.  According to Wikipedia, drummer John Densmore felt the song was an expression of Jim Morrison’s vulnerability. 

Personally, I had heard this song was about drugs.  Looking up the lyrics and rereading them looking for any sign of drug related imagery, I found very little.  Sure some of the lines could be viewed as related to being on a drug induced trip.  The lines could also be just as easily interpreted in a literal way.
I’ll offer both just for fun.  Here’s the song, for anyone who didn’t see the Oliver Stone movie about The Doors or who hasn’t ever listened to a radio:

The Lyrics to People Are Strange:

People are strange when you’re a stranger  [Literally this could be referencing the fact that when
you are a stranger somewhere, say in a different country or even a different city and you are unfamiliar with local customs and behaviors – those people seem strange to you.  Looking at it from a drug related view, this could be referencing the fact that people do seem odd when you’re high.]
Faces look ugly when you’re alone  [This could mean that when you’re by yourself, people don’t look as welcoming; they seem unfriendly towards you, ugly even.  Drug related it could be speaking of a bad trip where things don’t look so great rather they are ugly and depressing]
Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted  [Literally or drug related, this means that women seem mean when they don’t like you.  This also seems to insinuate that women seem mean when you feel you aren’t worthy or aren’t wanted or are depressed]
Streets are uneven when you’re down  [This could be either the road you’re on in life is filled with unfairness and ups and downs especially when you’re depressed.  Drug related could simply be that when you’re drunk or high, the street does seem to not be level]

When you’re strange  [Either when you are different from everyone else or when you’re high]
Faces come out of the rain  [Either there are people you may not be able to see right now in your depression or it could be that if you’re on LSD faces might actually seem to be coming out of the rain]
When you’re strange  [We’ve already covered this]
No one remembers your name  [People don’t care about people who are different than them or if you hang out with a bunch of other druggies, they will most likely not remember you since you are all high]
When you’re strange
When you’re strange
When you’re strange

People are strange when you’re a stranger  [Pretty sure we covered this already as well]
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
When you’re strange
When you’re strange
(Repeat this chorus one more time)

In the interest of fairness, I thought I would also include yet another interpretation of this song.  Frankly, I don’t buy it but it sounds really complicated and well thought out.  This person uses some mighty big words so surely, they must know what they’re talking about.  Anyway, here it is for your consideration:

“Hello all, I believe that this song is talking about the excess of individualism and egocentrism of the capitalist system.  Modern neoliberal oligarchic capitalist systems cannot function without it.  If you think about it, this song is very connected to the song “Subdivisions” by Rush, which is a eulogy against the neoliberal individualist capitalist system and how it turns people into conformist drones.  The ruling class of USA need Americans to be atomized, to be anti-socials, and to hate each other, in order to prevent a socialist revolution.  And this is what Jim Morrison is talking about in this song…”

Honestly, there was more but my fingers grew tired typing all those long words so I figured I’d just cut it off there.  In my opinion, I doubt Jim Morrison put as much thought into writing the song as that person did analyzing it.  But then again, I’ve been known to be wrong.

As I always say, you are free to interpret songs however you wish.  

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