HOW JIM MORRISON’S NEW YORK MOMENT INSPIRED ‘PEOPLE ARE STRANGE’

The Doors—from left to right: John Densmore (drummer), Robby Krieger (guitarist), Jim Morrison (singer), and Ray Manzarek (keyboardist)—arrive at Heathrow Airport in London, England on September 3, 1968. Photo by Granada Television.
The Doors—from left to right: John Densmore (drummer), Robby Krieger (guitarist), Jim Morrison (singer), and Ray Manzarek (keyboardist)—arrive at Heathrow Airport in London, England on September 3, 1968. Photo by Granada Television.
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY MARTIN KIELTY AND PUBLISHED BY ULTIMATE CLASSIC ROCK ON NOVEMBER 16, 2018.

Several stories circulate about the inspiration behind the Doors’ classic “People Are Strange” from their second album Strange Days. But keyboardist Ray Manzarek had a very clear version of his own.

In an archival interview with Uncle Joe Benson of the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show, Manzarek, who died in 2013, said singer Jim Morrison had come up with the idea after spending a night with Andy Warhol in the artist’s Factory studio.

“I don’t know if he even fell asleep or anything,” Manzarek said. “He got up about five o’clock, five-thirty in the morning, looked around, everybody’s passed out. [He] heads outside the Factory. We’re staying midtown, he’s downtown at Andy Warhol’s Factory, starts walking back. He said, ‘You know, the sun was just starting to come up … it was New York City and it was nice.’ It was late spring or something, maybe early fall. He said, ‘New York is great – it’s like empty, it’s deserted; there’s nobody around.’”

Morrison wasn’t upset about the absence of cabs as he was enjoying the walk, Manzarek said. That’s when the singer began to see the city waking up. “Little by little, out of the subways … people started coming up there, coming up and up and up," he recalled. "It was like creatures were crawling out from underground. … By the time he got to midtown the city was packed.”

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