“People Are Strange” by The Doors

Difficulty: Easy – Intermediate

Composer – The Doors

Where to find this song – Strange Days track #1

Release Date – October 1967

The Band:

Jim Morrison – vocals

Robby Krieger – guitar

Ray Manzarek – keyboard

John Densmor – percussion

The formation of The Doors begin at UCLA in 1965, where Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek were students. On a southern California beach, Jim read one of his poems to Ray and the two decided to collaborate on some songs. Manzarek recruited John Densmore who, in turn, recruited Robby Krieger. Morrison dubbed the band “The Doors” from Aldous Huxley’s book on mescaline, “The Doors of Perception.”

The Doors began playing clubs on the Sunset Strip, until they finally
ended up as the house band at the Whisky-A-Go-Go. Unfortunately, that gig ended after a controversial performance of the song, “The End”. Not all was lost though as their performances at the Whisky-A-Go-Go got them a great deal of exposure, and led to a contract with Elektra records. They in turn churned out hit after hit and the stardom therein led Jim to involving himself in one controversy after another. Jim once said, ” I am the lizard king, I can do anything.” He was right. He did anything……… and everything.

Verse Riff

This riff is set to 120 bpm ( beats per minute ), so if you have a metronome ( a device that keeps exact time ), or a drum machine, you can set it to this number. There are a few basic chords being played here that are picked out. The chords will be shown both by diagrams and by note for note explanation. There will also be a hammer-on in the fourth and eighth measures. A hammer-on is when you play starting from a lower note to a higher note, only striking the first note(s).

How To Play It

Part 1

Let’s begin by focusing on the first three measures of the riff. Begin
by placing your 2nd finger on the “A” string on the second
fret. Then, pick up that finger, and play the open “A” string
once. Next, use your 3rd finger and play the third fret on the “low
E” string. That is the first measure.

For the second measure, start by playing the “A” string open
once, and then use your 2nd finger to play that same string on the
second fret, and your 3rd finger on the “D” string on the
second fret.. This is where you are forming the Em chord, which is
shown on this page. Pick this chord by starting from the “A” string
to the “D” string to the “G” string. Next, you
just simply go back the way you just went, much like an arpeggio, and
then just play the second fret on the “A” string again. To
end this measure, use your 1st finger and place it on the first fret
on the “A” string and play that once.

For the third measure, you will need to form a A7 chord as shown on
this page. To do this, you need to notice that you are basically doing
the same thing as before, but on different strings, so keep your fingers
in the order that they are, but pay close attention to the tablature
above, as there are a few minute changes there.

Part 2

The fourth and fifth measure is a little more difficult, and that
is why it is included all by itself. This will enable you to practice
it much more without losing your train of thought in the song. To begin
this, play the “A” string open once and then place your 2nd
and 3rd fingers on the “D” string and the “G” string
on the second frets. Pick that out once starting with the “D” string
and then to the “G” string. Next, just move your fingers
up to the next strings and keep them in the same order as already directed.
Play those notes together twice, with emphasis on the first set of
notes. Then, just play the open “G” string once. Next you
will be performing a hammer-on. Remember what that is from above right?
Ok, to do this, play the “A” string open once ( this is the
note you strike to achieve the hammer sound). Then, use your 1st finger to play the first fret on the “A” string, and then use your
2nd finger to hit the second fret on that same string. That is a hammer-on.

The next part is a bit of a quick change. Place your 2nd finger on
the “low E” string on the second fret, your 3rd finger on the “A” string on the second fret, and your 1st finger on the “D” string on the first fret. Play that in order starting from your 2nd finger. Next you will need to let off of all strings except the “A” string, and play the “low E” string open twice, with an emphasis on the first note. To end the measure, use your second finger and play the second fret once and then let off of it to play the open “A” one time. Last, simply place your
3rd finger on the third fret of the “low E” string and play that once.

Part 3

The sixth and seventh measures of this part are almost identical to
the second and third measures of the first part, so lets focus more
on the seventh and eighth measures. The eighth measure is much like
the fourth measures hammer-on, but notice that there is a slide in
there. The way that this changes is that if you were to just hammer-on
at that part, you wouldn’t hear the distinct note changing, so you
will have to alter how it was taught above a little. Play all of the
seventh measure that same way as you did before, but at the hammer,
don’t use your 2nd finger to hammer, just hammer on to the first fret,
and then SLIDE to the second with that same finger. That will give
you the desired sound you are looking for. Now, to end the lesson,
you will need to notice that the beginning of the last measure the
chord looks the same as it did at the end of the fourth measure, except
the very end of the song. Let’s focus on the end of the song. To play
this, you will need to use your 2nd finger on the “D” string
on the second fret. Play the “G” string open once, then the “D” string
on the second fret, and finally the “G” string to finish
it off! You are finished!

Riff Resources

Complete Transcription
To “People Are Strange” (PDF)

Complete Transcription
To “People Are Strange” (Power Tab)