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Lyrics submitted by yuri_sucupira, edited by labell25

When The Music's Over song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentThis is probably my favorite Doors song. It's imagery is so incredible, it's just an epic song in every sense of the word. The beauty and the horror are woven together seamlessly by Morrison. If anyone calls Morrison a fraud poet, this song is proof of why he is the "American Poet".
    phalanxon April 07, 2004   Link
  • +6
    General Comment"I want to hear the scream of the butterfly."
    One of my favorite Doors lines.
    swanstreeton April 15, 2004   Link
  • +6
    General CommentI always loved this song since I first heard it. I'm a huge fan of music and it's really helped me through some rough times when I was alone, so I obviously related strongly to the song because of the chorus (and of course I loved Ray, John and Robby's performances as always). I liked the verses, but I hadn't really interpreted it from the author's point of view. And so here it is, sorry if it's too long.

    When the music's over,
    When the music's over, yeah
    When the music's over,
    Turn out the lights, turn out the lights, turn out the light

    Well the music is your special friend
    Dance on fire as it intends
    Music is your only friend
    Until the end
    Until the end
    Until the end

    This is the driving point of the song. The music is a metaphor not for life itself, but for all the things that make life worth living. So while those things are your special friend, your only friend, when they're over you should just turn out the light, because there's nothing left to live for. I think Jim used music to represent this because (besides the obvious fact that they were musicians) it was his passion, it was one of the few remaining things that made life worth living for him. Unfortunately, eventually even music didn't do that for him anymore, and the lights went out.
    The "Dance on fire" line is saying that all those things that make life worth living are the same things that make you want to dance. Of course they do more than just that, but he uses dance as the metaphor because it's in relation to the music. The 'music' makes you want to 'dance.' All the great things in life make you want to dance, love, laugh, "specialize in having fun." When the music's over and you're waiting for your lights to turn out, you don't want any of those things anymore.

    Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection
    Send my credentials to the House of Detention
    I got some friends inside

    He doesn't want to reincarnate when this life is over, he wants his soul to rest in the "House of Detention," which would be literally interpreted as a resting place for souls, because they're keeping themselves 'detained.'

    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 outside

    I don't know how to interpret exactly what Jim was conveying here, but I do know that this is what's happening in the House of Detention as his friends are there waiting for him. He's not willing to join them yet.

    Before I sink into the big sleep,
    I want to hear, I want to hear
    The scream of the butterfly

    Jim isn't quite ready to turn out the lights, call it quits on life and join his friends in the House. He still needs to experience some things before he's ready to leave. The butterfly may represent rebirth, or maybe it's just used as a strong (and creepy) visual, since it's perhaps the last animal on Earth you would expect to scream. After he says "The scream, of the butterfly," you can hear Ray play a trippy bit on the keyboard. I interpret this as the butterfly's scream.
    Note: I've heard about how it's a sexual/pornographic reference, but Jim picked up all sorts of random stuff that made they're way into his writings, so the context in which he came across the phrase isn't necessarily the context in which he used it. Personally I think it has really strong imagery, I have no idea how it could be used as a title for a porn movie.

    Come back, baby, back into my arm
    We're getting 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 yet very clear
    Come today, come today

    Now that he's heard the scream and experienced what he needed to experience, he feels like he's ready for death. He's "tired of hanging around" with his "ear to the ground." It's a perfect metaphor for death, especially when using music as a similar, yet opposite, metaphor. When you're listening for sounds with your ear to the ground, you're listening for low-pitched sounds, like how hunters track herds, but they're hard to pinpoint. Jim hears the gentle rumbling of death, it seems both near and far, he can only hear it softly, but for him it's as clear as day (after all, he was pretty much obsessed with death). He's tired of life here, it's running him down, taking his spirit. His music is over.

    What have they done to the earth, yeah
    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

    The longer he stays here without the music, the more it gets to him. Understandably, our legacy on this planet seems to be driving the author mad. All he can see now is the negative.

    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 now

    Again, waiting for death. This time, death finally comes to release him. This part of the song is still a toss-up for me but this is my interpretation: Notice when Jim says "We want the world and we want it..." he alters his voice, and it overlaps with the next line. I think those lines are Death's, and 'they' say that because, by their nature, they have an insatiable appetite for death and destruction, they want to destroy the whole world. It's probably also in part a reference to the last few lines talking about man-made destruction of the planet, perhaps alluding to humans being a destructive animal, or even death-incarnate. Whatever the meaning of those two lines, the song crescendos here, meaning Jim has finally been taken, to rest in eternity with his friends in the House of Detention.

    Persian night, babe
    See that light, babe
    Save us, Jesus, save us

    I think these are his take on the thoughts and feelings one experiences upon death.

    So when the music's over,
    When the music's over yeah
    When the music's over,
    Turn out the lights, turn out the lights, turn out the light

    Well the music is your special friend
    Dance on fire as it intends
    Music is your only friend
    Until the end
    Until the end
    Until the end

    Now we have a clearer picture of what he meant in the chorus: This entire song is a plea to Death. He's asking Death to turn out his lights when his music's over.

    Sorry to the mods and to everyone else if this is too long, but I felt this song deserves it. One of my all-time favorites, RIP Jim.
    kodiak5000on May 03, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General CommentHow can you not love The Doors?
    TheMusicGirlon October 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI like it way better than the end..."music is your only friend until the end"..i think this song is about how music is a true or your 'only' real friend because it is rawly just sound waves. The universe is made up of waves..you know, energy condensed to a slow vibration, which is all matter. We are made up of matter. Music is waves as are we. Humans lie...music is pure waves..Music can't lie, or i should say deceive(in terms of hearing it...not hidden or deceptive meanings) when it is simply being playe for enjoyment unless the person choosing to play it manipulates the actual sound somehow... a written song is your good friend because it has been arranged a certain way to be played/heard that way all the time. Yet, people change and can't be trusted as much as your good ole buddy music. I AM FUCKIN INSANE AAAHAH
    Atemporalon November 24, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentya know whats weird? he said "when the musics over turn out the lights" and ironicly when he quit playing music he died....Jim was a very mysterious person sometimes it seemed like he was talking to death or something....i dunno just a thought
    slvercord17on December 16, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGlancing through famous last words on Wikiquote (yes, I am a nerd) I found this:
    "When the music's over, turn off the lights."
    Who: Adolf Hitler, before his suicide in 1945.
    It does have to do with death, but not Jim's
    squiggynpeppyon February 22, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentgreat lyrics, belting tune
    isavedchipon August 07, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song has soo much emotions being released out of it. This song shows The doors at there best. It shows how great they all are as a group and individualy.
    Glaz3on August 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is great, i like it better than The End. I have no idea what it means
    retepon October 22, 2004   Link

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